How to Write the Johns Hopkins University Essay 2020-2021
Based in the heart of seaside Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins is the United States’ oldest private research university. Since its founding in 1876, the school has built an international reputation for its 52 diverse major offerings and varied research opportunities, particularly within STEM fields and more specifically, its distinguished Schools of Medicine and Public Health.
The school enrolls a little over 6,000 undergraduates, 80% of whom may participate in research, with many starting as early as freshman year. Its absence of a core curriculum upholds the university’s values of academic freedom, resulting in 60% of students choosing to double major or minor across their interdisciplinary interests (students must fulfill a certain number of courses outside their major, however).
The school reported a 7.7% Regular Decision acceptance rate for the 2019-2020 admissions cycle. Though Johns Hopkins is highly selective, you may increase your chances almost fourfold through the Early Decision option, which admitted 28% of applicants in winter 2019. Want to know your chances at Hopkins? Calculate your chances for free right now.
In the fall of 2020, the Johns Hopkins Admissions Committee added an Early Decision 2 option, allowing students to apply Early Decision by January 4, 2021, over 2 months after the November 2, 2020 Early Decision 1 deadline will have passed.
To further stand out to the admissions committee, you must write a stellar supplemental essay in response to this year’s Hopkins-specific prompt.
Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essay Prompt
Founded in the spirit of exploration and discovery, Johns Hopkins University encourages students to share their perspectives, develop their interests, and pursue new experiences.
Use this space to share something you’d like the admissions committee to know about you (your interests, your background, your identity, or your community), and how it has shaped what you want to get out of your college experience at Hopkins. (300-400 words)
As the one main supplemental essay, this is your greatest opportunity to shine for the Hopkins admissions officers. Though the word count is relatively low and there is only one question to answer, this prompt allows you to cover a lot of ground.
Here, Hopkins wants to know a bit about you, a bit about how your life has defined your collegiate priorities, and a bit about how Hopkins may provide that for you. This is a multifaceted question which may require a unique approach when compared to other supplemental prompts, but overall, it is pretty similar to your typical “Why this College?” essay. In a sense, they are asking two key questions: why you, and why Hopkins?
The answers may first be found through research. While you can hardly be expected to memorize the university’s entire website, it is important to truly understand the elements of Johns Hopkins which you most strongly find yourself gravitating towards, such as specific research and extracurricular opportunities, academic offerings, or even the school’s professed values.
Be specific here, and careful in avoiding vague or universal qualities. After all, plenty of schools have fantastic professors, small student-to-faculty ratios, and prestige. Admissions officers are often alma maters of the school you are applying to, super-fans who know the university inside and out, so it’s important to show them that you truly resonate with the school’s unique elements and spirit.
Be wary of discussing a major’s strength. Saying that you want to go to Hopkins because it is ranked first by the U.S. News Report for Biomedical Engineering is not only vague—after all, plenty of other schools are ranked similarly highly—but also wavers dangerously close to saying that you are only applying for academic prestige.
So take a moment to think about what you truly want out of your college experience and what is appealing to you about Johns Hopkins. Ideally, a student who is a strong fit will find a significant overlap between the two.
Consider an example case of a student who holds a deep-seated passion for policymaking. She spent much of high school volunteering at a geriatric care center and interned for a local politician the summer before junior year. She is now a prospective Public Health Studies major on the premed track. While reading about Johns Hopkins’ research opportunities, the student becomes particularly drawn towards the undergraduate research opportunities available through the Geriatric Medicine Labs under the Department of Medicine. A research position at the Ariel Green Lab, which conducts research relating to policy and decision-making regarding healthcare for the elderly, proves a natural fit for this student’s closely-held interests.
This student’s essay may begin with a lively, narrative anecdote from her volunteer experience for an assisted living facility, explaining that the afternoons she spent with aging patients helped her develop a patient and empathetic personality, while her experience as a political intern showed her how broader political systems could be built to meet specific, humanized needs like the ones she catered to in her volunteer work.
Her growing skills in compassionate communication and penchant for political analysis helped her realize that she needed a school like Hopkins, where she could pursue a successful medical career while fulfilling her desire to understand and advance geriatric care and policymaking.
Every student’s story is different, so yours will be, too. Remember that while research opportunities will likely be the main draw for many prospective Blue Jays, your essay may be tailored towards any of Hopkins’ abundance of opportunities, including classes, clubs, or other specific campus resources.
Given the word count, it’s likely you will only be able to cover a few elements of Johns Hopkins which resonate with your story, and that’s perfectly fine! Specificity is key to all essays of this nature, and the most important factor is the strength of the ties between your identity and Hopkins’ opportunities. By showing how deeply you will engage with the college’s resources and opportunities, you will demonstrate your capacity for giving back to your collegiate community.
Your essay should flow smoothly, demonstrating clear connections between your interest/background/identity/community, what you want out of your college experience, and which unique Hopkins opportunities you will take full advantage of. These three components should be clearly and strongly linked, painting a clear portrait of you as a person who undoubtedly belongs on campus.
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