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Johns Hopkins Essay Example: Breakdown & Analysis

What’s Covered:


Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Ranked #10 in best global universities, Johns Hopkins is very selective with an acceptance rate of only 11.2%. 


Johns Hopkins is a strong research university, with a world-renowned teaching hospital (Johns Hopkins Hospital). Undergraduates can also get involved in research with the help of a faculty advisor through the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Awards Program.  


Since Johns Hopkins is a highly selective institution, you’ll need a strong essay to better your chances of acceptance. Let’s take a look at the prompt, and how one student answered it. After, we’ll break down what’s working well, and potential areas for improvement. 


Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized. 


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)

In this prompt, Johns Hopkins is giving you the opportunity to share a little about who you are, what you will contribute to their community, and how their university is the best school for you. When crafting your response, you need to focus on you, specifically your collegiate goals and why Johns Hopkins is the best school to help you achieve those goals. The two big questions are:


  • Why should they choose you?
  • Why are you choosing them?


Here at CollegeVine, we would define this as a “Why This College?” type of essay. While that seems pretty simple, it’s important to approach this in an intentional way to avoid writing an essay that is bland, too general, or cliché. This essay has a lot of room for freedom in terms of topic and approach, so it’s important to plan out carefully how you will respond to the prompt.


To answer this question, begin with your why. Start with writing a list of the most important aspects of your life. Then, choose the one that best connects to your collegiate interests. It’s important to steer clear of cliché topics, like how you overcame a sports injury or persevered through a difficult course. To make these common topics work, make sure you’re writing in a way that always comes back to your identity and interests as a student. This will ensure that your story has a purpose.


Once you’ve decided on your why, it’s time to work on the how. Start by studying the university and what they have to offer you. Make sure you are not choosing a resource or opportunity that is too broad. You don’t want to talk about the great resources in the library, because most colleges have that. Instead, you could talk about a special archives library with documents from a historical event you have a strong interest in. Always include specific resources in your essay to show the admissions committee that you’ve done your homework. 


Now, let’s look at a stellar example of an essay from an accepted student. 


Johns Hopkins Essay Example

As I stretch the rubber band to touch the edge of the cardboard strip, the fingers curl. I release the elastic, watching as the joints, made of popsicle sticks, relax successively. Finally, my project is ready. In the Biomedical Engineering section of the GAMES camp at the University of Illinois, we were asked to construct a prosthetic arm that could grip and move a block of clay. After hours of meticulous redesigning, I crafted a successful prototype and became obsessed with using engineering to tackle challenges in medicine.


The following summer, I explored bioengineering on a cellular level at the Stanford Pre-Collegiate Summer Institutes, where a project on limb regeneration sparked my interest in biomedical research. I eventually pursued hands-on research experience with the USC Biomechanics Research Lab. In my project, I apply scientific principles to running to prevent stress-induced injuries in athletes. By analyzing video frames of PAC-12 athletes in motion and linking them to force plate data, I create videos and graphs for analysis. Comparing this data to athletes after a stress fracture, I observe differences that increase susceptibility to injury, ultimately improving the health of athletes using engineering.


From these experiences, I grew interested in majoring in Biomedical Engineering at Hopkins, where I find a distinct focus on hands-on learning. I am particularly excited to participate in design projects in the course “Rehabilitation Engineering Design Lab”. The uncommon structure of this course will allow me to design a medical device to fit the needs of patients with disabilities, which will then be analyzed in rehabilitation centers. Through this real-world approach to learning, I will strengthen my teamwork skills and address modern medical issues, furthering my interest in Biomedical Engineering through first-hand exploration.


As a top-tier research institution, Hopkins will also provide me with ample opportunities to explore my curiosities and build on my research experience from the USCBRL. In the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, I hope to work under Dr. Marilyn Albert in discovering new treatments for dementia. I became interested in neurological research when my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As I watched her diagnosis progress, I became curious about the underlying biological mechanisms behind her decline and wondered how biomedical research could prevent neurodegenerative disease. In this lab, I will tie my personal interest in neurological research to my passion for improving medicine through engineering, making Hopkins the ideal place to explore my interests.

Breaking Down This Johns Hopkins Essay Example


A Strong Narrative Arc


The essay starts with a strong hook in the beginning line: “As I stretch the rubber band to touch the edge of the cardboard strip, my fingers curl.” This is intriguing, as the reader is urged to continue following the action of the scene. The writer continues, “I release the elastic, watching as the joints, made of popsicle sticks, relax successively. Finally, my project is ready.” The purpose of the scene is immediately clear. The writer shares an anecdote where they are participating in a Biomedical Engineering camp because it directly relates to their intended area of study.


In paragraph two, the student continues to invest in this interest at the Stanford Pre-Collegiate Summer Institutes, working on limb regeneration. This flows nicely after the first paragraph, since both experiences are connected. 


In the concluding paragraph, the writer provides one final personal detail about their grandmother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. These three experiences work nicely in the essay since they back up their interests in specific resources at JHU.


However, remember that you don’t necessarily need to recount multiple experiences. It can be equally powerful to include just one or two anecdotes. With a more general prompt like this that asks you to “share something you’d like the admissions committee to know about you,” a common mistake students make is that they try to tell their whole life story.


The author of this essay did a good job including the most important parts of their academic development and how that’ll shape their experience at JHU.


A Clear “Why”


The student uses personal examples to make their passion for their intended area of study clear. It’s important to do this, to create a purposeful essay that speaks to who you are and why you are choosing a specific area of study, career path, and university.


The student moves back and forth seamlessly between their own personal life, and their plans for studying at the university. The writer always connects their own life to their collegiate identity: for example, in paragraph three it says “From these experiences, I grew interested in majoring in Biomedical Engineering at Hopkins, where I find a distinct focus on hands-on learning.” This narrative structure results in an engaging essay.


Make sure that you’re always making the “why” clear by connecting personal examples with specific information about the university. 


Specific Resources


While the writer includes some general examples such as “distinct hands-on learning” in paragraph three, they also mention specific resources the college offers, such as the course “Rehabilitation Engineering Design Lab”. 


In the final paragraph, the writer mentions the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Then, they express an interest to work with a particular faculty member. This demonstrates an interest in utilizing resources on campus to help achieve their study/career goals. While name-dropping isn’t recommended, the student is able to state why they want to work with Dr. Albert, which makes the difference. They clearly state that they want to develop new treatments for dementia, which aligns with their goals of improving medicine through engineering. 


Universities need to see that you’re interested not just in any college experience, but their university in particular. When you write your essay, make sure you include university-specific resources that connect to your interests and passions. 


Where to Get Your Essay Edited for Free


When it comes time to prepare your college application, having a strong college essay is vital. Sometimes we don’t see those awkward phrasings or grammatical errors on our own, so it’s a good idea to get a second opinion before you hit submit. 


At CollegeVine, we know how important the editing process is. That’s why we have a free peer review essay tool, which allows you to get feedback from another student on your essay. Looking at other students’ essays and suggesting edits will also give you a sense of what needs to be improved in your own writing.


Meghan Lavin
Blog Writer

Short Bio
A teacher, food blogger and avid reader, Meghan is an expert at all things writing and literature. She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching, and is pursuing a Master of Arts in Irish Literature and Culture at Boston College currently. Meghan enjoys coffee and cooking.