The Johns Hopkins University – a trip report

11 Mar

That’s the official name of the university, with a “The” at the beginning of its name and an “s” in Johns.  The student admissions representative who presented the information session jokingly told the audience visiting on President’s Day that if applicants wrote “John Hopkins,” they will be rejected.  This elicited nervous laughter from the crowd of parents and prospective students.  Students and alumni refer to the university as Hopkins; my husband is a graduate and he can attest to the numerous ways people have butchered the school name.  It’s a pet peeve.

The University is best known for its world-class medical school and hospital, located in downtown Baltimore, Maryland.  We were visiting the Homewood campus in northern Baltimore, which houses the undergraduate colleges of arts and sciences and engineering.  Because of the reputation of the medical school, Hopkins attracts many pre-meds who make up 25% of the class.  Contrary to popular belief though, attending Hopkins as an undergraduate does not confer any special advantages when it comes to being admitted to the Johns Hopkins medical school.  Nevertheless, at least 85% of pre-meds are accepted into medical schools.  Our student representative was a case in point – she was a public health major going on to medical school.

Given Hopkins’ strong pre-med reputation, it surprised us to learn that one of the most popular undergraduate majors is international studies.  For students wishing to pursue serious study in international studies, Hopkins offers a 5-year combined bachelor’s and master’s degree program in international studies where students spend one year in Washington D.C. at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), another Hopkins graduate school.

In addition to the engineering and arts and science school, the university also created a new undergraduate business school in 2007, located in the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore.  Students can also pursue a dual degree with Peabody Institute of Music. Except for biomedical engineering where applicants must be admitted specifically to that major, prospective students do not need to state a major on their application.  The biomedical engineering program is ranked number one in the country and is highly competitive.  A student can be admitted to Hopkins but not to the major.

There are about 5,000 undergraduates and the entering class has doubled in size since my husband attended thirty years ago.  The admission rate in 2010 was 21% but the admission rate for early decision stands higher at 39% in 2011.  The student representative said one-third of the class is filled through early decision but in 2011 that percentage rose to 42%.

The campus consists of a series of redbrick buildings in the Federal style of architecture, organized around various quadrangles with green open spaces.  We decided to skip the campus tour and wandered around on our own.  The area seems safe enough in broad daylight but there have been incidences over the years as the campus borders a poorer section of Baltimore.

American readers of this blog will not be too surprised by the high cost of tuition at Hopkins but international readers should take a breath.  It costs $40,680 for tuition for the 2010-2011 academic year and room and board will add another $12,510 for a total of $53,190.

My overall impression is that Hopkins may be a good fit for students who are interested in international studies, the sciences, engineering, and medical related fields.  Hopkins students work very hard, frequently taking more than the standard four courses per semester.  Their men’s and women’s lacrosse team competes in Division I and matches are popular on campus.

 

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