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Johns Hopkins University

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What should every freshman at your school know before they start?

After excelling in highschool, the dream to study at JHU finally came into fruition. Unfortunately, these high achievements gave me a false overconfidence. During my freshman year, I was struggling to balance volunteering, research, and schoolwork. I was not succeeding the way that I expected to. However, I wasn't initially willing to cut out extracurricular activities from my life: it has always been important to maintain and pursue interests that lie outside the classroom. The shock of my grades made me recognize that something had to change. I reprioritized schoolwork, and temporarily cut out personal commitments. I made a promise that I would return to my extracurricular activities when I could achieve a balance between academic rigor and a rich personal life. I recommitted myself to school. I wasn't used to asking for help, but instead accustomed to succeeding on my own. I needed to put my pride aside and seek outside help. I learned that asking for help is a vital skill that doesn't portray weakness, but rather signals a willingness to collaborate and share opinions. With support, I developed stronger study habits and raised my GPA. I learned to tackle my schoolwork with greater humility.

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Dear High School Self, You?ve been accepted to college! But where to go from here? I can help. First, don?t be afraid to leave home five thousand miles behind. Your family?s just a phone call away. Next, since you have this amazing opportunity, take advantage of everything! Apply for research positions as a freshman; you?ll be surprised by the results. Don?t forget to explore the surrounding city: Baltimore has excellent seafood restaurants. High school has prepared you well for the academics. Know your weaknesses and plan ahead, accounting for procrastination. Meet people! Here, your friends basically become family. You?ll make new memories: whether it?s going to watch a meteor shower at 4am, having your first snowball fight, or preparing a Thanksgiving feast (turkey stuffing from scratch included!) Don?t ever feel pressured to do anything. You can have fun at a party without drinking and get high on happiness itself. So you still want to join Doctors Without Borders and take on the weaknesses of the health system? College is the stepping stone. You won?t have a lot of time to look back because many changes are coming ahead! Love, Future Julia

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I would recommend that students look through college brochures with the parents so everyone will be on the same page when it comes to applying to those schools that are appealing. There are a few things that should be carefully looked over when choosing a college. First, tuition is by far the most important factor becasue it can have major affect even after graduating, what with loans and all. So, look into scholarships, grants, and any type of financial aid that will lower that tuition bill because it can stand in the way of registration and graduation. Second, location affects tuition and independence. A person who attends school out of state will learn to be independent quite fast when they realize they won't be bale to run home as they please. Third, majors and minors definitely need to be well examined and chosen. When deciding what career to go into, it is important to pick the right major(s) and/or minor that will transition properly into graduate school, medical school or the job market. College is probably the most important time of an individual's life because it allows growth mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. So, choose wisely.

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Before matriculating at any college or university, be sure to know as much about the campus as you possibly can. Visit its website, consult friends who attend the school, and most importantly, visit the school for yourself. That way you will gain an unbiased opinion. Be sure to visit overnight and preferably during a time when the college is not having mass visitations. In this way, you will see first-hand what the true spirit of the school is like. In order to gain the most of any college experience, become immediately involved in as many campus activities as your schedule will allow that you like, usually around three-four. These will allow you to meet college friends and enrich your academics. Once you have a core set of activities with which you are involved, be sure to attend all meetings, outings and events. Be outspoken and helpful, and try to be elected to higher positions within the group. This will give you real-world leadership experience. Aside from activities, get to know at least one professor very well each semester, and become fast friends with your academic advisor, who will offer invaluable advice about your major?s best classes.

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Take it easy academically the first semester, especially if it's pass/fail, but then start studying hard in sophomore, junior, and senior years. It's not a good idea skipping section classes just because it's too early in the morning and the class seems easy, as the professor can be tricky on exams. Have fun making as many friends as possible for social connection and social networking purposes, but don't pursue significant others just because of loneliness. Wait until senior year, at least. Find good internships starting in the summer of sophomore year to help your future career opportunities. Take one language in freshman year and stick with it , either Spanish or Chinese possibly. Ask questions during professors' office hours whenever you don't understand something or visit the TA often because they are really helpful. Don't just take easy classes to get an A but take at least one challenging class each semester. Try to participate in outdoors events like mountain climbing or biking to meet new people and have fun. Find a good Bible study group to keep your faith fresh and alive. Learn to work well with others for studying and having fun.

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In today's age, it seems applying to and choosing colleges can be the most daunting task in the world for a graduating high school student. There are many different types of colleges one could apply to, each with different pros and cons. Although these features must be taken into account, the most important thing a college applicant can do is to imagine themselves living life at their schools of interest. This is very different from analyzing a school's basic statistics and average SAT scores. Once you've narrowed down a "Top Colleges" list of your own, it is fair to assume that the majority of them will offer similar academic and extracurricular experiences. To really figure out which school is best for you, imagine waking up each day at that school. Being able to get through daily life with a level head is ultimately what will make you comfortable in college. Think about how comfortable you are with the location, what living in the different housing options would be like, what activities you would pursue and what social environment you most prefer. Most importantly, see the schools as new homes, not as items on a College Ranking list!

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The college entrance process was terrifying for me because I felt powerless--I knew that in order to attend any school, I would need a large scholarship, which made me feel disadvantaged. My general advice, then, would be to encourage especially the students themselves to really take control of the process. I think it was really important for me to be the executive decision maker; I researched schools, organized the visits, planned my tests, and did all the applications myself. This isn't to say that you shouldn't accept help from your parents, but this is a really important decision about the rest of your life, and to be able to put the work makes you more knowledgable and thus more comfortable with what's happening. When it comes to making the actual decision, I would again speak to students instead of parents. I think that it's extremely important to strip your decision of all outside forces--what name looks the best on your resume, what your parents want---none of those things are going to matter much in the end. If you are empowered enough to make the right decision for yourself, it will be respected.

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The first thing any high school student should do is pick an area that he is interested in. The student should ask himself what his strong qualities are and make a list of colleges that fit those standards. He should then pursue more information regarding these colleges by going to his career center, researching the university online, or even visiting the campus itself. The student should think about what the pros and cons are for each college, and weigh out which university will be most beneficial. These things will help guide the student towards the path that is specific only to him. There will be a myriad of things to explore in college. The only way to find exactly how the student fits into college life is to surrender to all new opportunities. He will be most successful if he understands that there are no closed doors to stand in the way of pursuing any future. It is completely normal to open a few doors and realize the one opened is not the right path. Failure should not be discouraging, but should inspire the student to continue to try and find his niche. Self realization is a life long process.

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Dear Meg,As my young adult years unfold, I am still undecided what exact path I should follow, yet I have discovered the one aspect of life you cannot live without; RISK! To understand what I mean, you must consider the following quote, "With great risk comes great reward." In the years since graduating from high school, I have pushed myself to take tremendous risks that have frightened me to the point that I almost quit and crawled back inside my shell of comfort. However, through my perseverance and determination, I tackled the obstacles that accompanied those risks and have only felt more rewarded. I now have amazing relationships with people I would have never been friends with before and have been privy to experiences that have changed me for the better. Overall, I have become a stronger and more inspiring person and realize that in order to develop further I must continue to take risks in every aspect of my life. As a result, my advice to you, a younger version of myself, is to take large and small risks, day in and day out, in order to make yourself the best you that you can possibly be!

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As a high-school senior who was obsessed with Pennsylvania State University, I was convinced that my life was laid out for me. I was accepted in November, my boyfriend was a freshman there, and I was head-over heels in love with him. I had applied to other schools, but I strategically applied to schools comparable to PSU, and schools which were extreme reaches. Everything seemed right, and I thought that nothing would come in the way of my happily-ever-after. Then, I was accepted to Johns Hopkins University in February. Suddenly, reality came crashing down on me. What should I do? Should I compromise my romantic interests in hopes of a promising career further down the line? Would I be happy among the over-achieving students at Hopkins? I wish I could have saved myself countless sleepless nights pondering these thoughts. If I could go back in time knowning what I do now, I would tell that lovestruck girl that she finds happiness in Hopkins. A boy is never worth compromising one's future. She will find the best of friends there, and she fits right in among the students. If I had only known then...

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