Johns Hopkins University is the oldest research university in the United States. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, it is home to just over 5,000 undergraduate students and more than 14,000 graduate students. Although renowned for its School of Medicine, its undergraduate campus is also highly prestigious. Johns Hopkins University admitted just over 3,000 students for its Class of 2020, resulting in an acceptance rate of 11.4%.

 

Undergraduate education at Johns Hopkins University is largely research-based. Nearly 80% of undergraduates perform some kind of independent research throughout their college careers. Johns Hopkins University is also home to the oldest continuously running university press in the United States.

Make sure to check out How to Write the Common Application Essays 2017-2018


Writing Supplement (300 to 400 words)

 

In addition to submitting the Common Application, Coalition Application, or Universal College Application, Johns Hopkins University requires applicants to write a supplementary essay. The writing supplement consists of just one essay with a required length of 300-400 words. The prompt included below asks you to recount a time when you collaborated with others and to share your thoughts on the experience.

“Write a brief essay (300-400 words) in which you respond to the following question: Successful students at Johns Hopkins make the biggest impact by collaborating with others, including peers, mentors, and professors. Talk about a time, in or outside the classroom, when you worked with others and what you learned from the experience.”

Although this prompt is fairly straightforward, you should tackle it from a personalized and insightful angle. Choose a moment that you feel really enhanced your teamwork skills. For example, maybe you worked at a local non-profit and discovered through collaborating with your co-workers that people have different working styles. Or maybe you planned and implemented your senior class project with a group of peers that were less than respectful. Whatever you decide, make sure that it is a story in which you have plenty to say in order to deepen your response.

An effective, step-by-step approach to your essay response:

Note that there are many ways to draft a successful response to this prompt; this guide merely presents one potential way to answer the question.

 

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Introduction

Start your essay response by introducing the moment you are going to reflect on. To hook the reader in a compelling way, you could start with dialogue from you or another person involved. Alternatively, you can choose to begin the essay with a short, impactful sentence.

Regardless, use action words and vivid language to really encapsulate the experience. The goal is to make the admissions committee feel as if they were really there with you. For example:

“Four and one, two, three, cha cha cha… four and one, two, three.

 

My first ballroom competition went by in a blur. Amid the pulsing beat, all I could really remember were flashes. The twirl of my red dress. The tilt of my neck. However, I can recall the countless hours I spent practicing the dance routines with my partner perfectly.”

Body

As you continue your essay, develop the feelings and thoughts you experienced as a result of working with others. Further, discuss how you usually dealt with collaboration in the past and if this specific time was more or less challenging for you — show how this specific moment was different.

Before getting involved with ballroom dance, I had never thought of it as a sport. Only after my first practice did I realize how physically and mentally exhausting it is. Even though my dance partner was—and still is—patient with me, it was frustrating to keep making mistakes. To dance properly, there are so many things you have to pay attention to: the tempo, the position of your feet, your posture, and especially your partner’s cues. It was difficult learning to follow his movements.

Conclusion

Lastly, explain why this moment stood out to you, and then reflect on what you think it means. How did the moment change you? Are you a better team player now? Did you learn something about yourself in the process? Really focus on how this moment led to your development; it is important to make the connection clear. Instead of simply starting a new paragraph stating that you are a completely different person, show it through an explicit link.

Example: “I am grateful to have joined ballroom dance club for so many reasons. Being a dancer has taught me poise, grace, and strength. But perhaps most importantly, it has challenged me by making me vulnerable to others—especially my dance partner. Not only did I have to become comfortable with being physically close to him, but I had to learn to mirror his movements in a way that looks natural. Even though no words are spoken as part of a dance, it is still an art that requires constant communication.”

If possible, also connect your newfound wisdom to your success at college. Show how what you learned during your collaborative experience will help you be a better student. Maybe you’ll work more efficiently on homework because you are able to ask others for advice. Whatever the case, make it clear that what you learned will stay with you in the future, and especially at Johns Hopkins. The admissions committee wants to know what about the university in particular draws you to it and how it will help you succeed, so don’t be afraid to include specific opportunities that align with your topic.

Example: “Through ballroom dance, I have learned to see things from a different perspective. I am better aware of interactions, better able to read other people and better at putting myself out there. I feel more confident now than ever before.”

Remember that you only have 400 words for this prompt. Even though it is important to be detailed and descriptive, it is also necessary to stay within the word limit. In order to be succinct while also using rich language, try cutting out unnecessary adjectives and opting for a more varied word choice instead.

Final Reminders

On their website, Johns Hopkins University writes that essays can be one of “the most important components of your application.” The university stresses the importance of being able to really show the admissions committee what is important to you and to share more about your background. Thus, it is crucial that you include something that really sets you apart in your supplement essay. Imagine that you were able to meet the admissions committee in person: what would you most want to tell them? Use this hypothetical conversation to inspire a topic for your essays.

If you’d like more inspiration for your Johns Hopkins University writing supplement, you can view previous “essays that worked” on their website. The topics of these essays range from ambidexterity to music to a piece of furniture in a coffee shop. However, they all are able to give insight into the respective author’s character.

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If you need help with other specific college essays, view all our posts here. Lastly, be sure to check out our guide on the Common Application here!

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CollegeVine College Essay Team

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