JHU is really not as bad as some (majority of) students say it is. For example, I've heard a lot of complaints about campus food both in the Sodexho and Aramark eras, but from the bottom of my honest heart, IT IS FINE!!! You can choose to eat as healthily as you wish, as frequently as you wish, all under your budget. JHU has many resources to prepare people to go to graduate studies or get a job. But one has to look for them actively in order to get the right service. Recent controversy: Halloween party incidence last year. I think the administration went overboard to suspend the kid for a year and a half. I would have much preferred giving him some community service tasks, which would serve to dissolve the mutual misunderstanding of what is a culturally appropriate message. I was glad however to find both sides' perspectives publicized well on the web.
I love Hopkins, and I can't imagine going elsewhere. The University staff genuinely love helping students, and there's a variety of offices and organizations to help get you situated emotionally, professionally, you name it. The academic programs are rigorous, and most people are dismayed by the lack of grade inflation, but I often hear that Hopkins alumni kick butt in grad school due to the work ethic they acquired during their undergraduate years. If you come from a small school, it may seem daunting to attend a 4,500-person university, but by sophomore or junior year, you'll find that you indirectly know just about everyone. The mentality here is work hard, play hard. The library reaches full capacity around finals, but those same library rats are blackout at the frat or at campus bars as soon as they're finished.
I love my school, no doubt about it. I love that everyone here holds themselves to a certain level of intelligence and drive. I love that the girl who got a perfect score on her chemistry test can also be found dancing at a frat on a Friday night. I love being in a city but always feeling safe because of the high level of security. I love that we have at least two Division One teams so there is no lack of school spirit. If I could change anything about the school, I would set up dining differently. Currently the dining halls are set up so that each grade is somewhat forced to eat in separate cafeterias. This makes inter-grade bonding a bit difficult. Also the lack of a student union makes students unhappy, although there is discussion currently going on for one to be built in the next few years.
I'm constantly impressed with the people I meet every day at Hopkins. All of the students are incredibly smart, talented people, and I've made so many fantastic friends at this school. The professors, despite being leading researchers in their fields, are usually very down to earth and approachable outside of class. The school is a great size - I feel like I know most of the students in my graduating class, but at the same time, Hopkins doesn't feel like a small school at all. There are a ton of opportunities for internships, research, etc: students are very involved with volunteer work on campus and in the community, and it's relatively easy to get a research position at the undergraduate campus, the public health campus, or the medical campus.
I think the administration is too invested in creating an environment that donors and alum find appealing as opposed to taking up actual student life issues. There is a desperate undercurrent of wanting to mimic and be in the same league as the Ivies and as a result so many opportunities are missed to define and distinguish Hopkins as its own unique place. Advising is inaccessible and some advisors are downright rude and may actively dislike students. Students are allowed to leave Baltimore with absolutely no concept of the place in which they've lived or any sense of the social deterioration happening around them. It fosters a sense of entitlement and distance from a city that could benefit greatly from the talents of the student body.
I love Hopkins. It's really the perfect size school: not so large that you do not recognize anyone on campus, but not so small that you met your entire class during orientation either. Students here are friendly, brilliantly-smart and talented. The Hopkins name is recognized worldwide (I come from Europe so I have seen this firsthand) for its academic rigor. The nightlife is fun, and Greek life is open to everyone (even those who are non-Greek). My favorite place on campus is Gilman Hall's Hutzler reading room (aka The Hut), a beautiful room with large stained-glass windows that you can study or relax under. If you want a world-renowned school with friendly and very intelligent students and faculty, Hopkins is a great fit for you.
One of the best things about JHU is how easy it is to get invovled in anything you may want to do. The campus is small enough that they are happy people are willing to participate in whatever and big enough to have a wide range of activities. If you want to do research you can. If you want to learn how to build a set you can. If you want to get involved it is only a matter of walking down to the CSC (the center for social concern). The walk won't be long because the campus is so small so a 15 min walk would get you anywhere. The campus is also a gorgeous brick and marble with cherry trees so the walk would be pretty. The JHU administration is fabulous. They are constantly trying to improve the happiness of their students.
One of the first things you'll realize about this place, is that it's fun. Despite the academic rigor in place, Hopkins affiliates have a sense of humor. Students regularly receive videos of flash mobs or lip dubs to funny Hopkins jingles. Even the deans and the staff are involved! I remember for April Fool's Day during my sophomore year, Hopkins wrote an article about finally surrendering to frustration and removing the 's' from Johns [Hopkins], and even photoshopped photographs of staff removing the letter 's' from landmark signs. I didn't expect Hopkins to participate (so cleverly!) in April Fool's Day - what highly ranked school really embraces its inner child? Hopkins may surprise you, but it will not bore you.
You definitely get what you pay for at this school. You get a challenging course load and many opportunities to participate in the real world or to do great research. People complain about how hard it is and how much it costs, but in the end, you come out with valuable tools. Not only do you leave this school with a great quality of education, you also leave this school with a sound work ethic and leadership skills that will undoubtedly make you successful wherever you utilize it. Depending on your major, you have the opportunity to either take classes at the grad school, do research on various campuses, or interact with people in Baltimore. Johns Hopkins is a great school and many people know that.
Students are serious about their studies and will understand if you need to work instead of going out. At the same time, most students are social, so it's not like everyone is always studying. I found this balance of work and play to be satisfying. Probably one of the biggest weaknesses of Hopkins is the food and variety of food. On campus food is fine (quality-wise), but there aren't enough venues. This results in lack of variety and long lines at lunch time. Additionally, many locations don't serve dinner, so the cafeterias become your only option. Additionally, off campus options are pretty limited, which doesn't help this issue.