Don’t Sweat the Supp Stuff: Advice for Crafting Your Supplemental Essay

supplemental essays johns hopkins

It can feel daunting to choose what to write about in your college application essays. How do you sum up the complex, dynamic individual you are with such limited space? 

The short answer: You can’t. But that’s OK. 

The goal of your application is not to share every detail of your multifaceted life. Rather, the process allows you to share your story with the admissions committee about what makes you a strong match for the institution. Each piece of the application reveals something about your academic experiences and personal journey that shows us how you might contribute to the Hopkins community. 

In some ways, the essays help tie together the rest of the application. They offer space for you to tell stories that represent the most important parts of your identity, which provide context for other components of the application. 

Let’s zero in on the supplemental essay . 

The supplemental essay portion of the application is specific to each school. Each institution has intentionally crafted a question (or multiple) to help determine whether a student might be a good match. We look for individuals who share Hopkins’ institutional values but will also bring unique experiences and perspectives to the community.  

Below is the supplemental essay prompt for students applying for entry to Hopkins in the fall of 2024:  

Tell us about an aspect of your identity (e.g., race, gender, sexuality, religion, community, etc.) or a life experience that has shaped you as an individual and how that influenced what you’d like to pursue in college at Hopkins. This can be a future goal or experience that is either academic, extracurricular, or social. (350-word limit) *

Picture your life in college. What does your community look like? Which aspects of your identity are most important for you to develop and nurture?  

Now jot down some thoughts about experiences or parts of your identity that have had a significant effect on your life. Maybe it’s a hobby you love, a cultural tradition, or an instance when you discovered something new about yourself. 

Once you have a list, think about how each of these will continue to play a role in your college life. Choose one to focus on and spend some time building it out. 

Keep in mind this essay is not an exercise in “tell us everything you know about Hopkins.” While it’s important for the admissions committee to see you’ve done your research and understand what Hopkins has to offer, simply listing what you hope to pursue on campus is only half of the puzzle. Be sure to connect the dots by explaining why you wish to pursue those things, and how they’ll help you remain connected to and grow in your identity. 

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas or crafting your essay, reach out to your school counselor or an English teacher. They can help you brainstorm and ensure your piece is answering the prompt in a meaningful way. 

Happy writing! 

* An important note about the essay: In this essay question, we are looking for how an aspect of your identity or background has contributed to your personal story—your character, values, perspectives, or skills—and how you think it may shape your approach to college as a scholar, leader, or community member.

Please note that the U.S. Supreme Court recently limited the consideration of race in college admissions decisions but specifically permitted consideration of “an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life” so long as the student is “treated based on his or her experiences as an individual—not on the basis of race.” Therefore, any part of your background, including but not limited to your race, may be discussed in your response to this essay if you so choose, but will be considered by the university based solely on how it has affected your life and your experiences as an individual.

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Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essays (2023-24) Prompts and Advice

September 3, 2023

johns hopkins supplemental essays

In the most recent admissions cycle, Johns Hopkins University admitted approximately 6% of applicants into the Class of 2027. As a school that rejects thousands of applicants each year with 1500+ SATs and impeccable transcripts, those hoping for a positive result at JHU need to find additional ways to shine in the eyes of the admissions committee. The Johns Hopkins supplemental essay is one such opportunity.

(Want to learn more about How to Get Into Johns Hopkins University? Visit our blog entitled:  How to Get Into Johns Hopkins  for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

Given that 19 of every 20 RD applicants to Johns Hopkins University are ultimately unsuccessful, you need to do everything you can to stand out amidst a sea of uber-qualified teens from around the globe. Through its one mandatory essay prompt, Johns Hopkins University’s supplemental section still affords applicants an opportunity to highlight what makes them uniquely qualified for admission. Below is Johns Hopkins’s supplemental prompt for the 2023-24 admissions cycle. Additionally, you’ll find our tips on how to write a winning composition.

Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essay Prompt

Tell us about an aspect of your identity (e.g. race, gender, sexuality, religion, community, etc.) or a life experience that has shaped you as an individual and how that influenced what you’d like to pursue in college at Hopkins. (This can be a future goal or experience that is either academic, extracurricular, or social). (300 word limit)

JHU is inviting you to share more about your background/identity/community through the lens of how that will impact your experience at the university. Take note of the wide-open nature of this prompt. You are essentially invited to talk about any of the following topics:

  • A perspective you hold
  • An experience/challenge you had
  • A community you belong to
  • Your cultural background
  • Your religious background
  • Your family background
  • Your sexual orientation or gender identity

Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essays (Continued)

Although this prompt’s open floor plan may feel daunting, a good tactic is to first consider what has already been communicated within your Common App personal statement and activities list. What important aspect(s) of yourself have not been shared (or sufficiently discussed)? The admissions officer reading your essay is hoping to connect with you through your written words, so—within your essay’s reflection—be open, humble, thoughtful, inquisitive, emotionally honest, mature, and/or insightful about what you learned and how you grew.

You’ll then need to discuss how your background/identity/experiences have influenced your academic, social, or extracurricular college goals. As such, think about what you learned and how it relates to one of the previously mentioned areas. For example, perhaps growing up in Northern California has made you passionate about post-wildfire ecosystem restoration, which you hope to pursue further through Johns Hopkins’ environmental science program. Or, perhaps your experience as a tutor has made you interested in The Tutorial Project , or the discrimination you watched your sibling face after revealing their gender identity has informed your desire to be part of initiatives like the Safe Zone Program .

To that end, be sure you address how you will take advantage of Johns Hopkins’s immense resources. The includes both inside and/or outside of the classroom. You can accomplish this by citing specific academic programs , professors , research opportunities , internship/externship programs , study abroad programs , student-run organizations , etc.

How important are the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays?

Johns Hopkins University considers six factors “very important” in evaluating a candidate. The essays are among them. In addition to the essays, Johns Hopkins gives the greatest consideration to the rigor of one’s school record, GPA, standardized test scores, recommendations, and character/personal qualities.

Want personalized assistance?

Are you interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced essay coaches as you craft your Johns Hopkins essays? We encourage you to get a quote  today.

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College Essays


Johns Hopkins University is considered one of the top-10 national schools in the United States. As the country's first research university, Johns Hopkins is interested in fostering lifelong learning and research. Although their medical school is perhaps their most famous department, Johns Hopkins has many prestigious programs—and their reputation means that admittance is extremely competitive, with just a 8% acceptance rate .

If you want to join the band of Blue Jays, you'll need to be a stellar student—and you'll need to write a killer Johns Hopkins essay. This guide will walk you through the Johns Hopkins supplement, including best practices for answering the prompt, how to plan your essay, and analyzing essays that got other applicants in.

Feature Image: Matthew Petroff /Wikimedia Commons

What Should You Know About the Johns Hopkins Supplement?

The Johns Hopkins application process is fairly straightforward. You can apply using the Coalition Application or Common Application , which each have their own essay questions to answer.

In addition to whatever essay you choose for your application, Johns Hopkins asks for an additional required essay of up to 400 words. There is just a single prompt, so no struggling to pick which one will best suit your needs here!


What Is the Johns Hopkins Essay Prompt?

Johns Hopkins has just one essay prompt. The 2022-2023 prompt focuses on collaboration and teamwork, asking you to think about your own role in working with others:

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)

This prompt is a bit less structured than Johns Hopkins essays in the past, which can present new challenges to students. It can be hard to figure out what exactly Johns Hopkins wants you to write about with a prompt like this one! But don't worry: we're going to break it down for you.

What This Prompt Is Asking You to Do

First things first: let's take a closer look at the first sentence of the prompt. In this sentence, Johns Hopkins is outlining exactly what kind of student they want to admit. Admissions counselors are looking for students with diverse ideas and experiences who are curious and passionate. They also want to admit students who aren't stuck in their ways: Johns Hopkins wants their students to be brave enough to try new things, pursue new ideas, and push themselves academically and otherwise.

To that end, this prompt is asking you to share one thing about yourself and how it has impacted both you and your future goals at Johns Hopkins.

How to Answer the Prompt

To answer this prompt well , you need to zero in on an aspect of your personality that a) isn't addressed in your other application materials, and b) fits with Johns Hopkins' mission and academic culture. Our secret trick to choosing the right trait to talk about? Make a list.

Sit down with a pen and paper and write down unique and interesting things about you. While it's good to focus on the categories in the prompt (identity, background, etc.), don't be afraid to branch out if it makes sense. For instance, maybe you have an incredibly interesting hobby or skill you want to share. Even though those things aren't explicitly listed in the prompt, it's okay to list those things down, too.

Once you've built your list, go through and start culling down until you have a topic that works. Here's what you should ask yourself as you start crossing off ideas:

  • Do I talk about this in my application already?
  • Is this a common topic that other applicants will write about (like being in band or enjoying the outdoors)?
  • Is this aspect of your personality too broad or vague?
  • Can you tell a story about this part of yourself?

Once you've picked the aspect of your personality that you want to write about, you need to tell a story around it . Don't just say you've hiked the Appalachian trail. Tell a story about your hike. What was it like? What did you experience? Why did you do it in the first place?

And of course, you also have to explain how this aspect of your personality will impact your education at Johns Hopkins. Maybe you decided to hike the Appalachian Trail because you enjoy testing your endurance, and you want to bring that same tenacity to your studies at Hopkins. Make sure you're tying everything back to your education!


There's no wrong way to celebrate a successful essay.

2 Johns Hopkins Essays That Worked

Even with a guide, it can be hard to figure out exactly what Johns Hopkins is looking for in their essays. Thankfully, the college posts successful essays on their website —complete with admissions office comments—giving you the chance to look through Johns Hopkins essays that worked.

These examples are responses to past prompts, so they do some things quite differently. But reading through them can still give you valuable insight into what Johns Hopkins University values in an essay, such as a cohesive look at each applicant and a creative frame for the topic.

#1: "Time to Spin the Wheel"

Add the fact that I was raised in a Bengali household and studied Spanish in high school for four years, and I was able to add other exotic words. Sinfin, zanahoria, katukutu, and churanto soon took their rightful places alongside my English favorites.

And yet, during this time of vocabulary enrichment, I never thought that Honors English and Biology had much in common. Imagine my surprise one night as a freshman as I was nonchalantly flipping through a science textbook. I came upon fascinating new terms: adiabatic, axiom, cotyledon, phalanges … and I couldn't help but wonder why these non-literary, seemingly random words were drawing me in. These words had sharp syllables, were challenging to enunciate, and didn't possess any particularly abstract meaning.

I was flummoxed, but curious … I kept reading.

… and then it hit me. For all my interest in STEM classes, I never fully embraced the beauty of technical language, that words have the power to simultaneously communicate infinite ideas and sensations AND intricate relationships and complex processes.

Perhaps that's why my love of words has led me to a calling in science, an opportunity to better understand the parts that allow the world to function. At day's end, it's language that is perhaps the most important tool in scientific education, enabling us all to communicate new findings in a comprehensible manner, whether it be focused on minute atoms or vast galaxies.

Romila's interest in language is introduced at the very beginning, but the essay takes a surprising turn midway Because she focuses on language, we'd expect that she's interested in pursuing a literature or writing degree; instead, her interest in language helped shape her love for biology.

What works particularly well in this essay is that it demonstrates Romila's unique background as a language-loving biology major of Bengali heritage. She doesn't need to declare her diversity; it's demonstrated through each unique facet of her personality she brings up.

As the admissions committee comments below the essay, Romila also does a wonderful job of showing her interest in interdisciplinary learning . It's not just that she loves linguistics and biology, but that she sees a clear line from one to the other—she loves both of them and the ways that they flow together.

It's unlikely that you have the same experience as Romila, but keep these things in mind when writing your own essay. How can you use your essay to discuss your educational aspirations? Does the work you've done with others fall into interdisciplinary learning? That can be as unconventional as an edible presentation on nuclear physics or as simple as understanding that your soccer team was made up of people with different skills and positions and how, together, you won the championship.

#2: "And on That Note"

While practicing a concert D-flat scale, I messed up a fingering for a low B-flat, and my instrument produced a strange noise with two notes. My band teacher got very excited and exclaimed, "Hey, you just played a polyphonic note!" I like it when accidents lead to discovering new ideas.

I like this polyphonic sound because it reminds me of myself: many things at once. ... Even though my last name gives them a hint, the Asian students at our school don't believe that I'm half Japanese. Meanwhile the non-Asians are surprised that I'm also part Welsh. I feel comfortable being unique or thinking differently. As a Student Ambassador this enables me to help freshman [sic] and others who are new to our school feel welcome and accepted. I help the new students know that it's okay to be themselves.

There is added value in mixing things together. I realized this when my brother and I won an international Kavli Science Foundation contest where we explained the math behind the Pixar movie "Up." Using stop motion animation we explored the plausibility and science behind lifting a house with helium balloons. I like offering a new view and expanding the way people see things. In many of my videos I combine art with education. I want to continue making films that not only entertain, but also make you think.

Like Romila, Curtis' essay uses an introductory framing device—his experience with playing a polyphonic note—to transition into a discussion of all the ways he is multiple things at once.

Demonstrating his multiple interests is part of why Curtis' essay succeeds so well, but most of these examples aren't just examples of contradictions or subverted expectations. They show other things, too, such as the way other people see him (Asian students don't believe he's half Japanese, non-Asian kids only see him as Asian), how his interest in different fields leads him to create unique projects, and how his experience being different allows him to be welcoming to others.

Curtis' writing is lively without getting lost in the metaphor. The framing device is clear, but it doesn't come up so much that it feels too focused on the idea of a polyphonic note. The essay would work just fine without the metaphor, which means his points are strong and sound.

According to the admissions officers' notes, Curtis' essay stood out in part because of the way it shows his ability to think across disciplines. Creative thinking is a huge asset at a research university such as Johns Hopkins. Like Romila's essay, this interest in interdisciplinary learning proves that he'll be a good fit for Johns Hopkins.


4 Key Tips for Writing Your Johns Hopkins Essay

Because the Johns Hopkins supplement has just one prompt, you'll want to do your absolute best on it. That means getting started early and giving yourself plenty of time to polish and refine your work.

As with all college essays, you should go through multiple drafts and seek feedback from others to make sure your essay is as strong as it can be. The earlier you start, the more time you'll have to whip it into shape!

#1: Brainstorm

Remember all those exercises your high school teachers had you work on, such as mind mapping and free writing? Now's the time to bust them out.

Look at the prompt and write down as many short answers as you can think of, no matter how silly they might sound—you don't have to use them if you don't feel strongly about them! If you spend some time writing down all your ideas, you can choose the one that speaks most strongly to you rather than getting midway through an essay before realizing that it's not what you really want to write about.

#2: Be Specific

Specificity is extremely important. With just 400 words, you need to make sure you're using your space wisely.

Tie your idea directly to Johns Hopkins University rather than speaking in generalities. Look through their course catalog and club offerings, and try to connect some of them to your goals and aspirations. Because the prompt asks about collaboration, try to envision yourself in those spaces, accomplishing your goals thanks to your classmates' support.

#3: Get Feedback

Once you've gone through a draft or two, it's time to turn your precious essay over to someone else for feedback. Find people you trust to give you honest and helpful critique. If they're too harsh, you're not going to want to use their advice. But if they focus too much on praise, you might not end up with anything to change.

Look to teachers or other people who have experience with writing—preferably not parents, as they're a little too close to you to be objective—for good advice.

Let all that feedback sit for a while before you sit down to revise your Johns Hopkins essay. Often, our initial response to feedback is to either implement or reject all of it, neither of which is necessarily the best way to improve an essay.

Consider the feedback you receive and find a middle ground between the recommendations and your voice and goals. It's OK if you don't agree with some of it, but do be sure that you always ask yourself why someone might not have understood your meaning. If clarity is an issue, you can still address that even if you don't agree with someone's suggestion.

What's Next?

A good essay is just one part of a successful Johns Hopkins application. Take some time to make sure your GPA , ACT , and SAT scores are up to par, too!

Need some additional help in writing a great college essay? This guide has all the tips and tricks for turning your ideas into essays !

The college application process can be long and confusing, especially when you're applying to a competitive school like Johns Hopkins. This expert guide to college applications will give you all the tips and information you need to create a truly spectacular application!

supplemental essays johns hopkins

Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar.

Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges.

Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now :

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Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.

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How to Write the Johns Hopkins University Supplemental Essay

supplemental essays johns hopkins

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 1/8/24

Interested in attending Johns Hopkins? Below, we’ll explain how to write a winning supplemental essay to help your application shine!

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is a top-tier institution known for its high commitment to excellence in research and education. Hopeful students must demonstrate their academic potential, values, and unique characteristics.

Your supplemental essay is an excellent opportunity to tell the admission committee about your experiences, aspirations, and enthusiasm for Johns Hopkins. You can also use them to explain how your values align with the school’s mission and highlight your potential to contribute to the university.

In this article, we will go through the process of crafting a compelling Johns Hopkins supplemental essay and provide valuable insights into approaching your response so you can increase your chances of admission.

Johns Hopkins University Supplemental Essay Prompts 2023-2024

On Common App, students are required to respond to just one supplemental essay prompt for their Johns Hopkins application: 

“ Tell us about an aspect of your identity (e.g., race, gender, sexuality, religion, community, etc.) or a life experience that has shaped you and how that influenced what you’d like to pursue in college at Hopkins. This can be a future goal or experience that is either academic, extracurricular, or social. (200-350 words)”

How to Write the Essay Prompt for Johns Hopkins University

Not sure how to respond to this year’s prompt? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered! This section will give you key tips to help you focus your approach. 

student writing on paper

How to Write the Johns Hopkins University Supplemental Essay #1 + Analysis and Tips

Analysis of Prompt : The university makes this question open-ended to its applicants so they can write about their culture and identity, which has shaped their values and aspirations. The prompt is a good example of a diversity essay in which the applicant will discuss the link between their identity and goals at JHU. This means the admission committee wants to know how your life experiences will impact what you want to achieve in the institution.

Below are some tips to take note of when writing the JHU supplemental essays:

  • Start With Self-Reflection : Reflect on various aspects of your identity or life experiences, and select one that has significantly shaped your perspective or values.
  • Highlight Personal Connection : Detail a specific event, realization, or experience that intimately connects this aspect to your identity. Express why this facet holds personal significance, revealing the emotions or values it embodies. 
  • Link to Future Goals : Clearly connect this aspect of your identity or experience to your future goals, explaining how it has inspired your academic, extracurricular, or social aspirations.
  • Do Your Research : Show that you've researched specific programs, opportunities, or values at Johns Hopkins, and demonstrate how your chosen aspect aligns with what Hopkins offers.
  • Express Enthusiasm : Convey genuine enthusiasm for joining the Johns Hopkins community, letting your passion for your chosen aspect and future pursuits shine through.

Example of Johns Hopkins University Supplemental Essays That Worked

In this section, we’ll provide essay examples written by successful JHU applicants. We’ll also discuss why each of these responses worked to help you make sure your own essays are impactful and impress the admissions committee.

Female student working on laptop

Sample Essay #1

Prompt : “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).”

“I stood in the dying light of the sun and a large campfire, facing out at the [NAME OF TRAINING PROGRAM]. The rest of the staff I had been working with joined arm around shoulder. I was a Troop Guide, the outward face of the course. I led presentations, guided participant activities, and most importantly, was responsible for a patrol of six 12-13 year olds. By the last day, I saw them solve their own internal conflicts and lead themselves using skills I had presented on, modeled, and coached them on. At the final campfire, I reflected on my time in Scouting and the people who had impacted me. I looked back at those kids, waving goodbye in the light of sunset, all teary-eyed, and the lead scoutmaster leaned towards me and whispered, “They won’t forget this.” With that simple phrase, I learned that I can make an impact. That I can change a small, but important, part of this world. 
My experience with young adults and supporting their mental wellness and leadership as a Troop Guide has cemented my interest in mentorship as well as a desire to become a Director of an in-patient psychiatric unit. I plan to pursue a major in Psychology or Cognitive Science, focusing on children and teens. Starting in high school, I found my passion for the mind and mental health. I myself have had previous experience with depression and anxiety, and have served as a close friend and confidante for many suffering with more severe issues. Being able to help these friends and others brings me great comfort, and I realized that I could turn this into a career that stimulates both my intellectual interests and my calling to help others. My focus on young people derives from the idea that helping at a young age provides them the best possible future. 
Johns Hopkins provides many opportunities to explore these interests. The highly-regarded Psychology department at Johns Hopkins would make this possible, with a variety of focuses among professors, from cognitive science to personality development that stokes my interest in interdisciplinary coursework. I would also pursue research into early diagnosis of mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia. Additionally, the many extracurriculars including the A Place to Talk, The Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Center for Social Concern would allow me to continue to aid my communities.”

Why Essay #1 Worked

In their response, the student seamlessly connected their role as a Troop Guide, mentoring and coaching young individuals, to their genuine passion for understanding and supporting the mental well-being of young people. 

This not only illustrated their ability to lead and make a difference but also laid the foundation for their desire to major in Psychology or Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins. 

By establishing a thoughtful link between hands-on experience and academic aspirations, the student showcased personal growth and underscored a commitment to contribute meaningfully to the university's community, leveraging its resources for a deeper understanding of mental health and mentorship.

Sample Essay #2

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)”

Let’s take a look at how a JHU student responded to this prompt: 

“O genki desu ka?” (“How are you?”)
“Hai, genki desu.” (“I’m well.”)
That’s the standard greeting my mom and I have with our Japanese sensei. It’s a light, idiomatic way to start the lesson and gets me ready to master the day’s grammar and vocabulary that, though confusing at first, eventually reveal their simplicity and clear logic the more I study them. But in my 8 years of studying Japanese, I always perk up when [NAME]-sensei mentions the ramen museum in her hometown of [CITY] or the life-size ice castles built at the annual [NAME OF FESTIVAL]. Learning about the different cultural elements that make Japanese society unique is what excites me about learning Japanese. But I realized that many of my other [ETHNICITY] friends did not have the same exposure I did to Japanese culture. Soon, I wanted to share that special uniqueness with people who may not have been exposed to Japanese culture before.
One summer, I got the opportunity to teach Japanese to other [ETHNICITY] children in my local community. While I made it a point to prioritize learning the necessary grammar and vocabulary, just like in the lessons I took, I made sure that we started each class with a “Question of the Day”, an introduction to the lesson designed to get my students’ thoughts on a particular Japanese cultural practice. I’d ask their opinion about a particular aspect of Japanese culture that differed from American or even Indian norms, such as the taboo of speaking on the phone on a Japanese train, or the godlike status of the Japanese emperor. 
When they’d say, “I actually think it's a good idea to not talk on the phone on the train” or “I admire the culture of not littering that they have in Japan”, I felt joy in seeing that they were not only engaged in the lesson, but that they had also grown comfortable teaching me the reasoning behind their views, even if it wasn’t popular or easy to explain. What started as an experiment of sharing my fascination toward the Japanese language and culture with a younger generation has morphed into a mutual exchange in perspective, a philosophy embraced at Johns Hopkins that will serve me well in my future endeavors.

Why Essay #2 Worked

This essay stands out because it seamlessly shares the student's journey with Japanese language and culture in a down-to-earth yet informative way. The use of casual Japanese dialogue at the start adds a personal touch, which instantly grabs the reader’s attention.

As the essay unfolds, it transitions from the student's love for Japanese culture to their hands-on initiative of teaching it to others. The essay reflects the student's dedication to spreading cultural awareness within their community. By incorporating a fun "Question of the Day" in their language classes, the student not only showcases their creative teaching style but also aligns themselves with Johns Hopkins' ethos of encouraging exploration and unique experiences. 

In essence, the essay artfully tells a story that resonates with the spirit of Johns Hopkins while emphasizing the student's commitment to sharing diverse perspectives and fostering community connections.

Sample Essay #3

I wish everyone here were more interested in maps and royal lineages like I am. That way, I could more easily connect with people”, I thought to myself.
I was nearing the end of my freshman year at a new high school. For me, it was a completely different environment. When once, school had been 5, 10, or even 30 minutes away, [NAME OF SCHOOL] was a full hour from my house. That 1-hour drive teleported me into a world of large mansions, fancy cars, and intricately manicured front lawns that I wasn’t used to in my hometown. Needless to say, I felt a little isolated in this new setting, and found myself wishing that I could just find something in common with any of my other peers.
It was only when I heard that my classmate [NAME] had started his own podcast at the start of the summer that I was struck with an idea. What if I made a podcast about any topic, and invited classmates who were interested in that topic to talk about its history? It was perfect: I could express my love of history while connecting with my friends at school.
I hit the ground running. From talking about the struggles African Americans faced under slavery and Jim Crow to discussing the influence of the sitar on modern pop music, I was fascinated by the depth of my friends’ knowledge and the passion portrayed on a plethora of different topics. Even after we’d finished recording an episode on a given topic, my friends and I would continue to sit and discuss that topic’s repercussions and ramifications on societies from the past up until today, such as those of “redlining” in Long Island, which are clearly visible on a map of the area and even more clearly visible upon a drive through the area. 
Soon, my confidence in myself grew as I discovered that, though pure history may not fascinate everyone like it does for me, learning from my peers helped me grow closer to them than a shared interest ever could. Now, whether I’m learning life lessons from professors over dinner or hearing the perspective of my fellow students on an aspect of Japanese culture, Johns Hopkins catalyzes countless opportunities for me to dive much more deeply into any topic while forming the lifelong, meaningful friendships that have always been so invaluable to me in the process.

Why Essay #3 Worked

This student details their journey of feeling isolated in a new high school and then seizing the opportunity to bridge the gap through a podcast. The narrative explores diverse topics relating to their identity and interests, showcasing the depth of the student's friendships and the meaningful conversations that they inspired. 

The essay reflects on the transformative power of shared learning experiences and how this growth aligns with the student's aspirations for Johns Hopkins. It effectively communicates a personal story of overcoming isolation and finding connection through exploration and shared interests.

Get More Sample Essays Here!

Take a look at our College Essay Example Database to read other Johns Hopkins essays that impressed the admissions committee.

FAQs: How to Write the Johns Hopkins University Supplemental Essays

Below are some of the frequently asked questions and answers about JHU supplemental essays:

1. Does Johns Hopkins University Require Essays?

Yes, Johns Hopkins University has just one essay to which all the applicants are supposed to respond.

2. What Is the Recommended Length for an Essay at Johns Hopkins University?

Your Johns Hopkins essays should be no longer than 350 words .

3. How Should I Respond to the Johns Hopkins’ Supplemental Essay Prompt?

Make the response personal. It is important to note that the school is looking for how an aspect of your background has contributed to your story, which includes your character, values, and aspirations. Also, consider how your culture or identity will affect your stay at JHU.

Final Thoughts

The Johns Hopkins essay is an opportunity to show the qualities that set you apart from other applicants. Your essay should be well crafted and engaging while perfectly demonstrating your values and aspirations. With a good essay, you can confidently secure space for yourself at Johns Hopkins University.

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2 Successful Johns Hopkins Essay Examples

Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Known for its strong foundation in research, the world-renowned teaching hospital (Johns Hopkins Hospital) and Undergraduate Research Awards Program provide opportunities for students to get hands-on experience during their time at Hopkins.

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. 

Read our Johns Hopkins essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts. 

Essay Example #1

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)

My fingers drummed across the table at a rhythmic pace. The musical beat played the chords of my growing anxiety. I ignored the triumphant cheers from the other groups as I held my breath waiting for our results. 

My shoulders fell as a wave of defeat accompanied the empty screen. The only thing that arose was the doubtful thoughts belting in my head. 

“I’m wasting so much time.” “Do I not have what it takes to be a scientist?”

The contrast of my dark skin and bright lab coat was noticeable in the laboratory. Yet, the white coat stayed on as I continued jotting my observations in my lab notebook. An array of different colored beakers decorated my workstation along with many pipets. For the duration of my eight-week internship, my partner and I had to extract DNA with PCR primers and show its dilution through gel electrophoresis. If done correctly, the DNA bands will appear on the imaging scanner. In other words, we had to grow resilience.

Along with our increasing failed attempts, our resilience began to blossom. Despite setbacks, our endeavor’s brought us closer to the scientists we worked with. “Success doesn’t come easy, if it did then it wouldn’t feel successful” one of our directors lectured. With those words, an inferno ignited as I put on my lab coat once again, eager to continue my attempts. By the seventh week, we were back in the imaging room awaiting our results. I held a pencil in one hand and my notebook in the other keen to note any areas of improvement. Surprisingly, the screen presented our DNA with zero contaminants. My heart skipped a beat as my face grew sore from my grin, eyes glued to the rows of perfect DNA bands– I felt successful. 

This kind of prosperity attracts me about Hopkins,– a victory that is met with consistent labor. Being America’s first research university shows the resilience and dedication it takes to make the world a better place. I would like to be a part of this trajectory by working with Dr. Bastian and her fascinating investigation in advancing our understanding of the genetics of inherited neurological and psychiatric diseases. At Hopkins, I can continue experiencing success along with a community of like-minded people.

What the Essay Did Well

This essay does a fabulous job of conveying this student’s feelings through descriptive imagery. We understand their initial anxiety when they say “ My fingers drummed across the table at a rhythmic pace ” and “ I held my breath waiting for our results. ” Then, when they provide their internal dialogue second-guessing themselves, we understand their anxiety stems from self-doubt and a lack of confidence. We’ve barely begun the essay, and we have already learned so much about this student.

The student uses their lab coat as a symbol throughout the essay, bringing an extra layer of depth, nuance, and maturity. While it originally makes them feel out of place, “ The contrast of my dark skin and bright lab coat was noticeable in the laboratory, ” as they grow more comfortable and resilient, they welcome it with pride: “ With those words, an inferno ignited as I put on my lab coat once again, eager to continue my attempts. ” Using an object as a proxy for their feelings is a beautiful way to convey their growth and demonstrate their talent for story-telling.

Because this essay tells a story of how a student overcame a personal obstacle, we see so much of their character shine through. This student didn’t just limit themselves to discussing their interests, but really hit the nail on the head when it came to showing how it has shaped them, by framing their response in the manner of an “ Overcoming Challenges ” essay. This is a good example of not boxing yourself into one essay archetype just because that’s what the prompt asks for. Make sure you address the prompt in full, but don’t be afraid to elevate your essay with elements of other essay archetypes.

What Could Be Improved

Although this essay does a very nice job sharing who this student is, it could have used more elaboration on who they hope to be at Hopkins. Not addressing the school until the final paragraph makes it seem like an afterthought. As much as admissions officers want to know who you are, they also want to know how you will fit into the campus community. Therefore, it is a better idea to integrate resources and opportunities the school offers throughout your essay, rather than saving it for the end. 

They could have compared the professor they want to work with to their inspiring director who taught them about success and mused over what life-changing tidbits Dr. Bastian will share. They could have mentioned a class that covers the nuances of DNA imaging that they hope to take to understand what their perfect bands of DNA mean. Maybe there is a club on campus for scientists of color that they want to join to collaborate with people to fully conquer their self-doubt.

There are many different opportunities that this student could have weaved through their essay to truly demonstrate how they would fit seamlessly into Hopkins, without sacrificing the descriptive narrative they have crafted about themselves.

Essay Example #2

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.

This essay starts off with a strong hook:  “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 and piece together what this student is passionate about.

The student uses personal examples, like their experience at the Stanford Pre-Collegiate Institute and their grandmother’s Alzheimers, 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 life to their collegiate identity : for example, in the third paragraph 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.

A major weakness of this essay is how broad it is. With a more general prompt like this that asks you to “share something you’d like the admissions committee to know about you,” students often make the mistake of trying to convey their whole life story, and this student fell into that trap a bit. 

Rather than telling us about the GAMES camp, the Stanford Institute, and their grandmother’s diagnosis, this student could have tightened up the essay by choosing one of their deepest fascinations and delving into how they will explore that particular interest at Hopkins.

They could include one strong, detailed anecdote, rather than squeezing in two or three that aren’t flushed out. There would be a central idea running through the essay that makes it very easy for the reader to appreciate what this student cares about, why they care, and how they plan to act on their interest in college.

It’s okay to not address multiple facets of your personality and interest in an essay—in fact, it’s usually preferred! Admissions officers will still understand the complexity of your personality from other parts of your application, but your essay will provide them with much more insight if it is focused and detailed, not a broad summary.

Where to Get Your Johns Hopkins Essays Edited

Do you want feedback on your Johns Hopkins  essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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The Ultimate Guide to Acing the Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essays 2021/22

The Ultimate Guide to Acing the Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essays 2021/22

Johns Hopkins is a small research institute with a competitive acceptance rate of just 9.2%. This highly competitive school sits among the other Ivy League all-stars as one of the hardest schools to gain acceptance. With the average GPA of admitted applicants at 3.9, the average ACT score at 33, and the average SAT score at 1510, nailing the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays can set you apart from a pool of stellar applicants.

How to stand out in your johns hopkins supplemental essays for 2021.

Since prompts for John Hopkins are historically open-ended, you can embrace your creativity and go in a unique and personal direction . Although grades and test scores are important, the admissions team at Johns Hopkins wants to get to know you on a more personal level. Use this essay to explain how you (through both your career ambitions and personal interests) align with the values at Johns Hopkins.

Additionally, the university put together an excellent resource that you should read before writing your supplemental essay. It’s called “Essays that Worked.” These are successful essays written by the incoming class of 2025 students. Read these and the comments from the admissions committee below each essay. They will give you insight into what the admissions team is looking for and what information in the essay resonated with the admissions team.

How Crimson Can Help You Stand Out In Your Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essay for 2021/22

Crimson’s advisors get to know each student. They learn about their interests, passions, and career goals. By taking a personal approach, they can help them craft unique supplemental essays that highlight their personalities and help them stand out from the other qualified applicants.

A Day in the Life: Johns Hopkins Student

Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admission consulting company. Our expert admission strategists can help you narrow down your ideas and word choice to help you craft the perfect essay prompt response. Get your essay reviewed today!

What is the Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essay Prompt for 21/22?

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)

How to Answer the Johns Hopkins Essay Prompt

The most crucial element to creating an effective response to this prompt is to make it personal . Pick something truly meaningful to you, and the rest will follow.

  • Are you interested in coding? Cooking?
  • How did that interest begin?
  • How has it helped you build community or get to know yourself more deeply?
  • Did you grow up in a different country?
  • Is there something unique about your family that you would like to share?
  • What social identities do you hold?
  • How do they shape your experience in the world?

It’s less about the actual topic and more about how that topic resonates with you on a personal level.

Is there a specific moment that exemplifies this interest, background, aspect of your identity, or community? It works to your advantage to start with a gripping narrative antidote that pulls your reader into your narrative. Painting a picture with vivid detail will help your readers connect to the emotional and visceral elements of your experience.

As the prompt asks, be sure to include at least a few sentences about how this experience connects with what you hope to get out of your time at Johns Hopkins . Be sure to make explicit connections if the connection isn’t apparent (maybe you don’t intend to knit at Johns Hopkins but want to create a similar feeling of community and collaboration that you shared with fellow knitters). Even if the connection is obvious (maybe your topic aligns with your intended major), don’t assume that the admission team will be able to read your mind. Articulate the connection so your readers can get to know you in a new and unique way.

Final Thoughts

Your essay should reflect your enthusiasm for Johns Hopkins, why you selected this school, and about your upcoming college experience, in general. Lastly, let a friend or family member look over your essay to ensure there are no grammar or spelling errors. The last thing you want is distracting grammatical errors in an otherwise well-thought-out essay.

** Need help with your supplemental essays? Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admission consulting company. Our expert admission strategists can help you narrow down your ideas and word choice to help you craft the perfect essay prompt response. Get your essay reviewed today!**

Key Resources & Further Reading

  • Acing your College Application Essay: 5 Expert Tips to Make it Stand Out from the Rest
  • MIT Supplemental Essay 2021/22
  • Harvard Supplemental Essay 2021/22
  • Columbia Supplemental Essay 2021/22
  • Princeton Supplemental Essay 2021/22
  • Cornell Supplemental Essay 2021/22
  • Brown Supplemental Essay 2021/22
  • Upenn Supplemental Essay 2021/22
  • Dartmouth Supplemental Essay 2021/22
  • Duke Supplemental Essay 2021/22
  • University of Chicago Supplemental Essay 2021/22
  • How to Tackle Every Type of Supplemental Essay
  • 2021-22 Essay Prompts Common App Essay Prompts
  • What are the Most Unusual US College Supplemental Essay Prompts?

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August 7, 2023

2023-2024 Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essay Prompt

A view of Johns Hopkins University from a walking path.

Johns Hopkins University has released its supplemental essay prompt for the 2023-2024 college admissions cycle. Johns Hopkins, which in recent years, has asked applicants to answer only one supplemental essay, is again requiring applicants to answer only one essay prompt — a 300-worder. But it’s not the length of Johns Hopkins’ essay prompt for applicants to the JHU Class of 2028 that’s interesting. Instead, it’s the topic .

2023-2024 Johns Hopkins Essay Topic

Below is Johns Hopkins’ essay prompt for applicants to the JHU Class of 2028:

Tell us about an aspect of your identity (e.g. race, gender, sexuality, religion, community, etc.) or a life experience that has shaped you as an individual and how that influenced what you’d like to pursue in college at Hopkins.? (This can be a future goal or experience that is either academic, extracurricular, or social).

Johns Hopkins’ Supplemental Essay Is a Bold Response to SCOTUS Ruling

You read Johns Hopkins’ 2023-2024 supplemental essay prompt correctly . The school’s admissions committee is directly asking about a student’s race (or gender, sexuality, religion, community, or something else) to understand their perspective and lived experience.

It’s a bold move in response to the Supreme Court’s outlawing of the practice of Affirmative Action in late June 2023. At the time, some surmised that many of our nation’s elite universities would avoid directly asking applicants to comment on their race. But not us. No, we at Ivy Coach have a crystal ball . That crystal ball, once even cited on the pages of America’s oldest college newspaper, forecasted that America’s elite universities would still find ways to indirectly consider race in the admissions process to create diverse classes, capitalizing on the opening provided by Chief Justice John Roberts.

In the majority opinion, Roberts wrote, “At the same time, as all parties agree, nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

Yet not every school put themselves directly in the line of fire by using the word “race” in their supplemental essay prompt(s). Johns Hopkins — a school that proudly previously banned the un-meritocratic practice of legacy admission , or the tradition of offering preferential treatment to the progeny of a school’s alumni base — dared to do so. Agree or disagree with Affirmative Action, Johns Hopkins’ bold response to the ruling is  noteworthy .

Johns Hopkins Even Changed Its Essay Prompt, Leaning into Race

And it’s not as though Johns Hopkins simply cut and pasted their essay prompt from last year. Last year’s essay prompt did not explicitly mention race. It read as follows:

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.

How to Approach Answering Johns Hopkins’ Supplemental Essay

One doesn’t need to be an underrepresented minority to be able to answer this essay prompt. It’s why Johns Hopkins specifically cited any community that an applicant may deem themselves a part of or even, more broadly, a life experience that has molded their outlook on the world.

While race is explicitly mentioned in the wording of the essay prompt, applicants really have a blank canvas for this essay question. As such, they can direct their answer just about any way they wish — though it should ultimately address the second half of the hybrid question of how that perspective, community, or life experience has shaped what they hope to study at Johns Hopkins.

It’s thus essential to include a few specifics that only apply to Johns Hopkins (and, no, name-dropping professors or listing classes do not count as genuine specifics about an institution). After all, JHU admissions officers want to understand how that perspective will influence what you bring to their vibrant campus.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Johns Hopkins Essay Prompt

If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to Johns Hopkins and wowing admissions officers with compelling storytelling, fill out Ivy Coach ‘s consultation form , and we’ll be in touch to outline our college counseling services for seniors.

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Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essay Examples

Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essay Examples

Looking at Johns Hopkins supplemental essay examples can be very helpful for students getting ready to write their own  college supplemental essays . Whether you are planning on applying to Hopkins- one of the most competitive schools in the United States, or a different highly ranked institution like  Brown University , for example, you will benefit from looking at a variety of other essays.

If you want to get into a top college, being at the top of your class and having the right extracurricular activities on your  high school resume  is no longer enough. College admissions have gotten more competitive, and the admissions process has become more holistic. In other words, if you want to stand out, you need to submit compelling essays that show the admissions committee why you deserve a spot in their next class. 

Reviewing different  college essay examples  can help you do that. So, without much further ado, let's look at these five Johns Hopkins supplementary essay examples. 

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

Article Contents 10 min read

Prompt: Founded on a 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)

Johns Hopkins supplemental essay example #1

I always have a book in my purse. Technically, I always have several because I carry a physical copy of a book and my Kindle, which gives me access to thousands of books. I don't remember when I started doing this, but I remember every single time that I found myself outside with nothing to do, and a book was there for me to escape into. 

As you probably guess, I am an avid reader. I read an average of four novels every week, and then I talk about it with the community that I have built through my blog online. I enjoy telling others about the books I am reading, what I liked about them, the tools the writer used to drive their point home, and what they could have done better. 

I first started reading when my family and I moved to the United States from Brazil. I spoke fluent Portuguese and very little English, so my ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher suggested I start reading English books to improve my vocabulary. 

I will admit that the first few months were challenging. I was grateful for the kindle feature that allows you to check the definition of a word by double-clicking on it because I needed to look up so many words. I started setting challenges for myself. I would reward myself with a matcha latte if I could read three chapters without having to look up a single word, or I would get to watch telenovelas instead of reading if I managed to read a book within a certain amount of time. 

Eventually, not only did my English improve significantly, but I started looking forward to reading. I had fallen in love with fictional worlds and the complex characters that inhabit those worlds. I have often found myself finding refuge in books, and I believe that there are so many others who could benefit from them. 

My goal is to teach others about the wonderful world of literature and introduce others to books as my teacher did for me. Johns Hopkins not only offers an entire course on one of my favorite authors - Virginia Wolf-, but it also provides a rigorous English major that would allow me to strengthen my foundational understanding of formal literary criticism while also increasing my knowledge of modern literature. 

I can't imagine exploring my love for literature anywhere else. 

“Are clouds heavy? They don’t look heavy, but they have to be because you said that’s where rain comes from. Right?”

That is one of the many questions that I asked as a child. I have always had what my mother calls a curious spirit. I was that annoying child who preferred asking a million odd questions instead of playing games. So, to keep me busy, my mother would let me play games like Trivia and 20Q on her iPad. I developed a particular interest in 20Q when I realized that it would guess what I was thinking. I wanted to know why, and that is how my fascination with technology began.

Initially, I set out to understand how the game was guessing correctly, but my research led me to the fantastic world of Artificial Intelligence. I had more than twenty questions about how they work and what they can be used for, and as usual, I made sure to ask everyone around me. It was, therefore, not surprising when I signed up for a computer programming class as soon as I could in middle school. I was so excited to finally learn from a teacher who could answer some of my questions.

In middle school, I learned about artificial neural networks and how they use algorithms to recognize hidden patterns and correlations in raw data, how these networks can cluster and classify that data, and – over time – continuously learn and improve. I applied these same principles to my work as a student. Even though I was passionate about the topic and understood the principles behind computer programming, coding did not come naturally to me. I would stay behind after class to get some help from my teacher and other students. I would also spend my free periods practicing and watching tutorials. 

“you’ll need to do some more living, first, and learn about things outside of literature.”

That’s what my grandmother told me when I first told her that I wanted to become a writer. At first, her words didn’t make much sense to me. I felt that to become a better writer; I have to study writers and the art of writing, nothing more. That said, my grandmother is one of the wisest people I know, and she is usually right, so I kept an open mind and thought about what she said often. 

It first started making sense to me when I learned that Agatha Christie was a nurse and that Mark Twain was a steamboat pilot. It helped me realize that the best writers were not only capable of writing beautifully, but they also combined their knowledge of literature with outside information and personal experiences to create masterpieces that we are still learning from today. As an aspiring journalist and novelist, learning this made me wonder about my own interests outside of literature. 

I have spent most of my free time in middle and high school focusing on improving my writing and research abilities through the school newspaper which I write for, the debate club that I am a part of as a researcher, and the book club that I meet with every other Saturday. My grandmother’s words and my recent discovery propelled me into action. I decided to “do some more living,” as my grandmother had called it. I joined the dance team, where I learned to push myself and confirmed that practice makes perfect. I also joined the social committee, which taught me how many people work behind the scenes of even the most minor events and how important the details are. I recently signed up for a cooking class as well, and I am confident that my experience with cooking will also teach me a valuable lesson. 

Although I am on the path to becoming a journalist, I am excited to continue exploring different interests through the many programs Johns Hopkins offers. No other school would give me the option of attending writing seminars while also learning about various topics like earth & planetary sciences or robotics. I believe these experiences will only make me a better writer and allow me to contribute to my community more significantly.  (392 words)

The night before my last debate, I slept for four hours. I know this was not the brightest idea, but I couldn't help it. I wanted to review my points again and ensure that I felt prepared. I remember laughing with my mother that night when she came in to remind me that I needed to sleep if I wanted to win. We laughed at the fact that once upon a time, I hated the idea of the debate club, and now, I was staying up late because I cared about the debate's outcome.   

It is true that when my English teacher firsts suggested I join the debate club at school, I thought the idea of it seemed nonsensical. But after a few weeks of research and preparation and one debate tournament, I was hooked. 

In order to debate, I often have to research complicated topics such as foreign diplomatic agendas, international relations, critical theory, and many others. I then have to synthesize that information into coherent debate evidence and translate knowledge into actual debate argumentation. It is the most challenging and rewarding experience that I have had, and it has helped me develop the ability to critically analyze information, make sense of it and express it creatively in written and oral form. 

I have come to enjoy this aspect of debate prep, and I have come to love the competition as well. Over the past three years, my partner and I have won four debate tournaments, and I have won six regional speaker awards. This has not only boosted my confidence in my abilities, but has also increased my credibility in the debate league. We even got invited to a national conference where our public debate helped raise awareness about the impact of gentrification and what the local government can do about it. 

Most importantly, debating has taught me the importance of being prepared and thorough. I have learned to pay attention to details and actively listen to other people's perspectives. Not only do I now know how to look at the bigger picture, but I also know how to pick the right place to zoom in to so I can achieve my goal. All abilities I know will serve me well as I go through the rigorous political studies program at Johns Hopkins.  (385 words)

Watch this video for college essay writing tips that will help you stand out: " css-class="video youtube " title="YouTube video">

There is an ancient power in storytelling, and journalism modernizes it. The stories I read in newspapers and blogs are all filled with imperfect characters and intricate conflicts in which the journalist is the narrator. My dream has always been to be that narrator, and I have been working toward that goal with the kind of singular focus I believe the best journalists have. 

I started dreaming about it before I understood what it was. One of my first memories of this is from a vacation we took when I was about twelve years old. My family and I had spent a few days at the Rocky Mountain Amusement Park Resort, and I took it upon myself to write a detailed account of our trip. I remember being bored most of the trip and having to find ways to entertain myself because I was too short to go on many of the rides, so I essentially wrote an article that proclaimed that the Rocky Mountain Amusement Park was boring. 

However, during the drive home, my brother read my article and told me I was wrong. That was the first time I thought about different perspectives and how they affect our individual experiences. That experience taught me to consider all points of view, regardless of my personal perspective.  

As the editor-in-chief for my school newspaper, I always make it a point to remind my team to do the same. We aim to share the uncensored perspectives of as many students as possible, and I’ve found that the best way to do so is to talk and listen to different groups, especially those who have a different perspective than our own. This is why whenever one of the journalists proposes a story, I ask them to find out why the event happened, where it will lead and who it will affect. 

This attitude has helped me expand my perspective beyond my little bubble and explore. In an effort to learn more about people’s experiences, I started reading diverse books and looking for stories that give me a chance to learn. I have gotten better at writing about polarizing-opposite opinions through an unbiased lens. I know that I still have a lot to learn, and I am eager and ready to do so.  (380 words)

Johns Hopkins is one of the most competitive schools in the US, with an average acceptance rate of 11%. Applicants need to submit an outstanding supplemental essay if they want to get an offer of admission. This is especially true if you are trying to  get into college with a low GPA . We recommend taking the time to review various essay examples from other schools that are equally prestigious and selective. For example, you may want to review Brown or even  Columbia supplemental essay examples.  Furthermore, the school has a section called "essays that worked" on their website that you should check out. When you are ready to put pen to paper, you should keep in mind that there are  college essay review services  that can help you edit your essay and ensure that it is as compelling as possible. 

Last year, only 11% of the students who applied to Stanford were offered admission. This makes it one of the most selective schools in the country. You will need an outstanding application to get in.

Many assume that it is, but it is actually not. It is, however, one of the most prestigious universities in the United States and the world. 

Every year, Johns Hopkins receives applications from thousands of students with high GPAs and impressive extracurriculars. Your essays give the school a chance to find out what else you bring to the table, and they give you a chance to set yourself apart as a candidate. In other words, you should not underestimate the importance of your college essays.

You will need to write one Johns Hopkins-specific essay in addition to the Common App essay.

Hopkins is one of the best schools in the US, and they only admit students with a high GPA. You will need at least 3.90 to be competitive.

You can improve the quality of your essays and make them stand out by having a strong opening, using specific examples, showing instead of telling, and ensuring that your essay is grammar and spelling error-free. If you're not sure how to do this, reach out to a  college essay advisor  for some assistance. 

Your essay should begin with a "hook". We recommend starting with something catchy like an anecdote, an interesting or funny fun fact about you so that you can grab the reader's attention from the very beginning. 

Johns Hopkins requires one supplemental essay that is at least 300 words long. Applicants can write 300-400 words.

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supplemental essays johns hopkins


Johns Hopkins University 2021-22 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision: 

Johns Hopkins University  2021-2022 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 1 essay of 300-400 words.

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Community

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).

JHU is purposefully leaving this question super open-ended, so that you can write about any facet of your background or community that has been most integral in shaping your identity. Admissions also wants to know how this aspect of your experience has impacted what you want to seek from your time attending Hopkins. So, start by thinking about your identity. You can write down some words that you would use to describe yourself, or work backwards by thinking about what you hope to gain by attending Hopkins, and then consider how that relates to your interests, identity, background, or community.

Maybe you dream of becoming a surgeon, specializing in gender affirming surgery, to marry your interest in science and medicine with your passion for helping members of the trans community. Perhaps you don’t know what you want to major in yet, but you hope to expand your horizons at JHU as a first-generation student, sharing what you absorb with your relatives so that they can learn alongside you. As long as you put aside time to brainstorm freely and edit meticulously, we’re confident you’ll impress admissions with your response!

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Command Education Guide

How to write the johns hopkins university supplemental essay, updated for 2023-2024, essay prompt:.

Tell us about an aspect of your identity (e.g. race, gender, sexuality, religion, community, etc.) or a life experience that has shaped you as an individual and how that influenced what you’d like to pursue in college at Hopkins.  (This can be a future goal or experience that is either academic, extracurricular, or social).

300 word limit.


This supplemental question may seem confusing or pointed to many, but in reality it’s asking a rather simple question:

What is something about you/your background that influenced your decision to study XYZ, and why do you want to study it at Johns Hopkins specifically?

Whether you choose to tell a dramatic story about a life-changing trauma or a lighthearted story about the first time you found your favorite hobby, the most important part of this prompt isn’t the impetus of your academic pursuit as much as it is your ability to tie the two together. How did growing up in a culturally diverse household make you want to study music? Why and how did your prized coin collection turn into an interest in studying economics at JHU?

Again, the reason is only one part of the full story.

Aside from connecting your identity/past to your major, the other important part of this prompt draws on how you’ve cultivated more experience/interest in preparing for your academic pursuits.

If you are a computer science major, for example, this would be the perfect opportunity to mention that app you built after being inspired by your love for coding. If you are a creative writing and political science double major, let your experience writing political speeches shine!

Although you won’t have all too much space to talk about the activities themselves (that’s what your activities list is for!), this essay gives you a chance to use relevant experience/activities to bridge your intended major or majors with your identity/background/interests of choice!

Lastly, if there’s a class, club, professor, alumni, or any specific reason(s) why Johns Hopkins is the place where you’d like to foster this passion, you better mention it!

Below is an example of what such an essay might look like for a student (let’s call him Timmy) who is interested in becoming a double major in film and psychology at Johns Hopkins. Timmy first became interested in bridging these two academic fields as a result of his love of horror movies, specifically those of Wes Craven (who happens to be a Johns Hopkins alumni), and has further developed his interests by conducting research with his local college’s psychology department and creating a short film that he recently entered into a community film festival.

The day my father showed me his favorite horror movie changed the trajectory of my life. Despite being quite young, I can vividly remember gripping his hand as I was overcome by an adrenaline-filled combination of terror and intrigue. What I remember more than the twisted plot, suspenseful score, and the film’s monster that can only be described as the personification of nightmares was my own bewilderment and obsession regarding how the film made me feel.

As inconsequential as it might seem, this viewing ignited what has turned into an academic passion for psychology that serves as the perfect supplement to my lifelong obsession with filmmaking. Experiencing the horror genre for the first time broadened my horizons regarding the emotional responses that media and art could elicit in a viewer. This experience was the catalyst for my interest in behavioral psychology and experience conducting research on cognition-emotion interactions at the University of Cincinnati’s Laboratory for Cognitive and Affective Neuropsychology.

In furthering my studies as both a social scientist and as an aspiring filmmaker and screenwriter, I am certain that Johns Hopkins is the perfect setting to provide me with a world class interdisciplinary approach to my academic interests. Aside from their film and media studies degree—which offers students the opportunity to specialize in screenwriting and showcase their work at the Maryland Film Festival—the psychology department’s courses such as “Primate Minds” will provide valuable lessons on behavioral and emotional responses. Lastly, alumni such as film director Wes Craven have demonstrated that Johns Hopkins fosters an environment that encourages students to truly master their interests and pursue their passions at the highest possible level, and it is my hope that I too will leave my mark on JHU’s campus and beyond.

supplemental essays johns hopkins

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supplemental essays johns hopkins

Approaching the Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essay 2021-2022

Padya Paramita

September 20, 2021

supplemental essays johns hopkins

Johns Hopkins University has consistently been ranked among the top 10 schools in the country, and with good reason. Boasting one of the best medical reputations, this Baltimore institution attracts talented STEM and pre-med students from all over the world. If you’re more of a humanities or arts person, Johns Hopkins also provides over 50 majors to choose from, and is also known for its strength in creative writing.As the college highly values collaboration, you should use the Johns Hopkins supplemental essay 2021-2022 to exemplify how you work with a team and would contribute meaningfully to the Johns Hopkins community.

Johns Hopkins asks only one supplemental essay question, but it’s a crucial one. Your essay is a valuable opportunity to convey that you’re a team player, and connect experiences highlighting your collaboration skills in relation to your academic interests and prospective Johns Hopkins major. To guide you through the essay question in detail, I’ve outlined the prompt, the dos and don’ts for answering it, and more tips to get you started on the Johns Hopkins supplemental essay 2021-2022 . 

Prompt for the Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essay 2021-2022

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)

If you’ve worked on other applications, you know that many schools throw multiple prompts at you. While this might be a welcome change from the number of essays you’ve had to write, having only one prompt also makes it more challenging to make a lasting impact. As your only school-specific question, it’s a chance to seal the deal on why you’ve chosen Hopkins and how you would be a valuable addition to the campus. Here, you have a relatively generous amount of space to elaborate on who you are and what makes you tick. 

Note that Hopkins refers to this part of you as “something” and “it.” They are looking for that one special aspect of you, so avoid sharing multiple sides of you. Think depth rather than breadth. Admissions officers want to know about what’s important to you. In writing your essay, make sure to answer the following questions: 

  • What is the one thing that makes you most unique?
  • How has this shaped your experiences and perspectives?
  • How has this shaped your goals?
  • What do you want to accomplish at Johns Hopkins and how will you do it?

Johns Hopkins wants “students who are eager to follow their interests at the college level and are enthusiastic about joining the campus community.” In order to have a personal, individualized response, think about an anecdote that ties your background or interest to your intellectual pursuits. Have you led any initiatives to help your school or local community? Have you started a club or organization within your field which engages others? Did a part of your family background heavily influence what you’ve decided to pursue academically? Admissions officers make it clear that it can be any side of you. As long as you haven’t already mentioned this aspect of your identity in your Common Application personal statement, you can write about anything.

The question asks how this side of you has impacted why you’ve chosen Hopkins . Admissions officers don’t just want to understand what makes you different from other applicants, they want to know what you’ll bring to their specific school . They want to know what you value in a community or classroom, and evaluate how you would get along with your peers at Johns Hopkins. Johns Hopkins highly values leadership and community, sure you choose an example that best showcases your collaborative nature, and use the space you’ve been given to transport the admissions officers to the scene of a particular anecdote. 

However, don’t spend too much time talking about what happened;  instead, portray how you have made an impact, show how the incident has shaped your perspective and goals, and articulate how Hopkins is the place to pursue your interests. Upon reading your essay, admissions officers should understand the impact you have made. They should also take away what your biggest interests are and be able to envision how you might contribute to the Johns Hopkins campus if accepted.

Additional Tips for the Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essay 2021-2022

  • Read the Website! - You may not have been asked the traditional “Why Hopkins” question for your Johns Hopkins supplemental essay 2021-2022 , but it’s still crucial that you conduct thorough research on the school. In your search you might find that the Johns Hopkins website has a page on “ Essays that Worked. ” This page provides you with some useful examples that can help you get a clearer picture of what the admissions officers are looking for. Reading these responses might just end up being what inspires your own essay, so don’t underestimate the power of research.
  • Dedicate Significant Time to Brainstorming - Since there’s only one prompt for the Johns Hopkins supplemental essay 2021-2022 , a lot of students might take it lightly. However, Johns Hopkins states that the essay can be “ one of the most important components of your application. ” Don’t just come up with the exact same topic as your personal statement. At the same time, think about a part of you that really shaped you. Choose an instance that allows you to be as specific as possible. Ensuring that your essay topic has a cohesive connection to the rest of your application can go a long way toward convincing admissions officers that you’re a strong candidate who has spent time specializing in your field.
  • Check Out Our Blog from a Former Admissions Officer - For further reading, you might be interested in the “ How to Get into Johns Hopkins ” blog by our Former Admissions Officer Zak Harris, who served as the Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Hopkins. In the article, he provides insights into how to frame your application, and what makes up the ideal candidate for the school. Regarding the supplemental essay component, Zak adds, “Some students take this essay for granted and don’t spend nearly as much time on it as they should. Or, they use an underdeveloped idea or a rather generic topic that doesn’t come across as very impressive. My advice is to spend significant time thinking about how you work with others and provide concrete anecdotes exemplifying your collaboration skills.” 

Since thousands of students apply to Johns Hopkins, you need to find ways to stand out from the rest of the pack. And framing your Johns Hopkins supplemental essay 2021-2022 as uniquely as possible is the perfect way to do so. This response can help the school understand the depth of your interest and intellectual engagement, as well as how you would contribute to the campus community. Use your essay to distinguish yourself from the competition and convince Johns Hopkins why you would be a perfect fit for this collaborative community. 

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6 Outstanding Johns Hopkins Essays That Worked for 2023


To get into Johns Hopkins University in 2023, you'll need to make sure your essays that help you stand out.

You may know that John Hopkins releases essay examples every so often.

And in this article, I've gathered 6 additional incredible Johns Hopkins essays from admitted students.

Whether you're a student or parent of an applicant, get inspired and real insight into JHU admissions.

What is John Hopkins University's Acceptance Rate?

Getting into Johns Hopkins is difficult. Last year, over 37,150 students applied to Johns Hopkins and 2,407 were admitted.

That means Johns Hopkins had an overall acceptance rate of 6.5%, or in other words about 1 in 15 students get admitted each year

Johns Hopkins Acceptance Scattergram

Luckily, if you want to maximize your chances of getting into Johns Hopkins, your essays make sure you have your best chance of acceptance.

For top schools like Johns Hopkins, your essays matter more.

What are the Johns Hopkins Supplemental Prompts for 2022-23?

This year, Johns Hopkins requires applicants to write one essay of 300-400 words in response to its writing supplement question.

Here are the Johns Hopkins writing supplement prompts for this year:

  • 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)

6 Additional Johns Hopkins EssaysThatWorked

These are 6 additional Johns Hopkins essays that worked written by admitted students. Here you can read their essay examples and see how they got accepted.

I've also included some Common App essays written by admitted JHU students.

  • 1. Runners Take Your Marks
  • 2. Percussive Marching Arts
  • 3. Constance Care Center
  • 4. Governor's School of Science
  • 6. Glowing Blob

#1. Johns Hopkins Supplement Example: Runners Take Your Marks

Prompt: 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. (300-400 words)

"Runners take your marks, get set, collaborate?"

When one attempts to characterize the sport of cross-country, the term 'teammates' rarely comes to mind. More commonly, the activity is associated with words such as 'champion' or 'competitor', both singular nouns. Therefore, it is not difficult to imagine the extent of my surprise when, stepping into my first-ever cross-country practice as a lanky ninth-grader, I witnessed the sense of camaraderie present among the more established members of the team. Despite my acknowledgement of these runners as teammates, I held my opposing views of cross-country and of collaboration at the poles of my mind, convinced that the two were terminally incompatible. Stubbornly clinging to this black-and-white philosophy, I carried it with me throughout the season's inaugural meet, unaware of the burden that such a dichotomous perspective created. Instead of tuning into the motivated cheering of coaches, I tuned into the laborious pumping of my arms, resultant of the intensity of the race.

Opposed to focusing on the changes in pace effected by my teammates, I chose to focus on the chafing around my ankles, resultant of an ill-fitting pair of racing spikes. Intent of ensuring my own success, I willfully ignored the reality that, although my teammates were assuming the role of rivals, my teammates were simultaneously assuming the role of collaborators, purposefully striving to ensure the success of one another. Consequently, the competing teams engaging in cooperative conduct similarly happened to be the teams with the greatest overall achievement at that first meet.

While witnessing the success of collaborative teams certainly set into motion a transformation of my polarized perspective in regards to cross-country, the true catalytic factor materialized itself as the interactions carried out between my teammates and I. As the season progressed, and as I gradually gained awareness of the team's nuanced character, I noticed that the strengths of one teammate served to supplement the weaknesses of another. Where one teammate may have fallen short on rhythm near the conclusion of a race, for example, another teammate would provide a blazing final 'kick'. Equipped with a transformative understanding of team dynamics, I ultimately came to realize that cooperative achievement arises not from compromise, but rather from the constructive amalgamation of distinctive individual qualities.

As I toe the starting line of an undefined future, I will undoubtedly carry these indelible lessons with me throughout the entirety of life's most daunting race.

#2. Johns Hopkins Supplement Example: Percussive Marching Arts

There is something intimate, almost profound, in mirroring the movements of about 14 people around you.

From paralleling the idiosyncrasies of a vibraphone player’s smile to the nuances of a marimba player’s wrist movements, it is difficult to achieve total nonverbal communication in a band’s front ensemble. The result, however, is an infinitely rewarding one; the visual mosaic we design — whether inside the confines of a gymnasium floor or on an expansive stretch of turf on a football field — is akin to the aural one we create as well. This tapestry, while ostensibly uniform, is woven with the gradations of every player’s physical form, their quirks quickly adopted by the whole ensemble.

Indeed, pantomiming and performing become one in the same in the stationary percussive marching arts. This mimicry demands a sacred conviction that every player will commit to maintaining the mosaic that we’ve worked so hard to build. The tense moment when each player waves his or her mallets above the board permits no hesitation; there is no room to confirm the camaraderie between players before striking the keys. We are forced to trust that everything will fall into place, and the tapestry will unfold as it should to captivate our audience.

I’ve learned a lot from playing mallet percussion across the ensembles offered at my school, but the most important thing I’ve learned is to relax, and allow the hours me and my peers have put into rehearsal take their course. I am a notoriously anxious person, obsessed with precision and perfection. Performing is anything but precise; it’s fluid and expressive. When the drum major counts off, I cannot worry about my stance behind the board, or if how much torque I am applying to the first stroke is the same as the person next to me. I must be unapologetically confident.

The faith that I’ve cultivated in my peers in creating this musical tapestry has translated to an increased faith in myself and my own abilities. No longer am I afraid to explore new talents, or take intellectual excursions into fields unbeknownst to me. I am free to teach myself anything, from the entirety of Claude Debussy's works on piano to the John Cena theme song on recorder. Indeed, contributing to something greater than myself has fundamentally changed who I am for the better.

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#3. Johns Hopkins Common App Essay Example: Constance Care Center

Common App Prompt #5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. (250-650 words)

Why This Essay Works:

This student uses vulnerability in admitting that they held preconceived notions about the elderly before this experience. The quote introduces these preconceived notions well, while the description of how this student got their job in the care facility is also engaging.

Admission officers love to see your interactions with others. Showing how you interact reveals a lot about your character, and this essay benefits from reflecting upon the student's relationship with a particular elderly individual.

What They Might Improve:

It is good to be descriptive, but only when it supports your expression of ideas. In this essay, the author uses adjectives and adverbs excessively, without introducing new ideas. Your ideas are more important than having a diverse vocabulary, and the realizations in this essay are muddled by rephrasing similar ideas using seemingly "impressive," but ultimately somewhat meaningless, vocabulary.

This essay touches on some interesting ideas, but on multiple occasions these ideas are repeated just in different phrasing. If you have already expressed an idea, don't repeat it unless you're adding something new: a deeper context, a new angle, a broadened application, etc. Ask yourself: what is the purpose of each sentence, and have I expressed it already?

It's true that almost any topic can make for a strong essay, but certain topics are trickier because they make it easy to write about overly used ideas. In this essay, the main idea can be summarized as: "I realized the elderly were worthy humans too." It touches upon more interesting ideas, such as how people can be reduced down to their afflictions rather than their true character, but the main idea is somewhat surface-level.

#4. Johns Hopkins Common App Essay Example: Governor's School of Science

#5. johns hopkins personal statement example: riddles.

Common App Prompt #6: Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? (250-650 words)

As I was going to St. Ives, Upon the road I met seven wives; Every wife had seven sacks, Every sack had seven cats: Cats, sacks, and wives, How many were going to St. Ives?

The riddles of life were not as straightforward as the puzzles in my books and websites. In fact, they were not straightforward at all, like winding mazes of philosophical quandary.

One of the most thought-provoking subjects that preoccupies my mind regards the existence of aliens. Initially, my mind was settled on the possibility of intelligent life. A universe so big could not possibly be lifeless.

As for the solution to the riddle at the start:

How many were going to St. Ives?

This essay does well by having a unique central topic—riddles—which allows the author to draw out interesting ideas related to this theme. Your topic doesn't necessarily need to be profound or hugely significant, because this author shows how you can take a seemingly unimportant topic and use it to make meaningful connections. In this essay, riddles grow to represent something greater than the activity itself, which is something you can do with almost any topic.

One of the most effective ways to "show, not tell" is to use specific and tangible examples. This essay does a great job of exemplifying their ideas. Rather than just saying "I enthralled my friends with questions," the author also shows this: "Over peanut butter and sliced ham, I assumed the role of story teller..." Examples are always more convincing because they are proof, and allow the reader to interpret for themselves. Don't tell the reader what you want them to think. Instead, set up moments that guide the reader to come to those conclusions themselves.

This conclusion connects back to the beginning, which is generally a good idea as it creates a cohesive structure. However, this ending doesn't quite make sense in the context of the riddle. Rather than creating new meaning, it comes off as arbitrary and contrived. Make sure your conclusion isn't creative just for creative-sake, and instead also has significant meaning attached to it.

#6. Johns Hopkins Personal Statement Example: Glowing Blob

Common App Prompt #7: Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. (250-650 words)

The diamond leaves of gnarled oak trees throw spectrums of color onto mounds of frosty snow that gleam melancholily under the moonlight. The leaves chime as wind violently rustles them in a haunting melody. I splinter a leaf off its branch and inspect the shard of my illusion, eyes dancing with amusement.

As I dwell in my worries, a cold hand reaches from behind me and taps my shoulder.

I jerk away, fear bubbling in my amygdala as I look into the nonexistent eyes of my intruding visitor.

The moon illuminates a blob of pink squish as it draws back slowly, points its spindly hands towards my drink and asks: “Could I have some of that?”

The blob wipes its invisible mouth with its nonexistent sleeve. I ask: “What are you?”

The blob tells me to stop looking at it so suspiciously. “I can prove it,” It says. I tell it, please, go ahead.

Suddenly we are back in the glowing forest. “Diamonds? Pah!” The blob dismisses them. Instantly, the leaves turn solid gold, the snow melts, and the wintry world is thrown into a blistering summer.

The blob laughs heartlessly. “Your cortex is under my control,” it says smugly.

“I heard you had a question for me?” It taps its invisible ears knowingly.

The blob wriggles its invisible brows as it waits.

It smiles that wicked smile. It laughs that sinful laugh. Then that insufferable blob wakes me up.

As I sit up in the dark and rub my bleary eyes, I am vaguely aware of the deep­set unfulfillment settling itself inside me. I yawn and plop back into bed, the soft red glow of my alarm clock indicating that it is still before midnight.

One thing is for sure about this essay: it has a unique idea that has surely not been written before. Regardless of your topic, you want your essay to be unique in some way, even if it isn't as fantastical as this essay. You can use a unique structure, such as having central symbolism, metaphor, or being structured as a recipe, for example. But this can easily become "gimmicky" if it doesn't have a clear purpose. In general, the most effective way to have a unique essay is to focus on having deep and unique ideas and reflections. By focusing on interesting takeaways and connections that are ultra-specific to you and your experiences, your essay will standout regardless of the structure.

This essay uses a lot of fiction-like writing that is fantastical and "flowery." Although moments of this kind of writing can make your essay more vivid, it is quite easy to end up with dense storytelling and descriptions that ultimately don't share anything interesting about you. The purpose of your essay is ultimately to learn about you: your values, your ideas, your identity, etc. By using dense story-like writing, it can be easy to lose focus of what admissions officers are looking for. In general, avoid writing "fancy" stories like this essay, unless you have a clear and distinct purpose for doing so. Everything in your essay should have a purpose in "going somewhere" (i.e. reaching interesting ideas and takeaways).

This essay is definitely creative, but lacks meaningful takeaways and ideas. By the end of the essay, we don't know much about the author besides the fact that they have an affinity for creative writing and are "on a search." Although the content is unique, the end result comes off as quite generic and surface-level because no interesting thoughts are explored deeply. The most interesting part of this essay is "I open my mouth and ask it my most crucial question," but this is super unsatisfying because the question is never divulged. Instead, the reader is teased by this fantasy story and the essay goes nowhere meaningful, which comes off as gimmicky and "creative for creative's sake," rather than deeply personal and interesting.

This essay ends on the idea of "continuing my search," but for what exactly? It is never explained, elaborated, or even implied (besides one reference to painting earlier). That makes this conclusion comes off as somewhat surface-level and uninteresting. Admissions officers won't care about "your search" unless they have a reason to care. That is, unless it tells something specific about you. On it's own, this idea of "exploring" and "searching" is meaningless because it is too broad and unelaborated.

What Can You Learn From These Johns Hopkins Essays?

If you're trying to get into Johns Hopkins University this year, you'll need to write essays that help you stand out and get accepted. These 6 examples of Johns Hopkins essays that worked show how real students got into JHU in recent years.

In this article, you can read and learn from essay examples responding to the Johns Hopkins writing supplement for 2023 as well as successful Common App personal statements .

Let me know, what did you think of these Johns Hopkins essay examples?

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People love to ask why. Why do you wear a turban? Why do you have long hair? Why are you playing a guitar with only 3 strings and watching TV at 3 A.M.—where did you get that cat? Why won’t you go back to your country, you terrorist? My answer is... uncomfortable. Many truths of the world are uncomfortable...

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A red and white inner tube attached to a rope is being thrown into a stormy sea that is filled with random serif letters

Credit: Mark Smith

A Literary Revival

While many journals of its type have perished owing to budget cuts, the reborn 'hopkins review' defies the odds and continues to champion eminent and emerging writers..

By Aleyna Rentz

T he inaugural 1947 issue of Johns Hopkins University's literary magazine, The Hopkins Review , begins with a poem by then undergraduate John Stephen called "Revaluation":

Mightier than swords, They said- a soothing token Of power's impotence When peace has softly spoken; But blades continue keen, And pens too soon get broken.

These lines speak to the frustration of a young writer who's realized that many things are, in fact, mightier than the pen. Off the heels of World War II, Stephen was probably thinking of land mines and atomic bombs, but his words make me think of money. Mightier than the pen and deadlier than the sword, it's the thing that, only six years later, killed The Hopkins Review .

But in those six brief years, The Hopkins Review had an impressive run. It was established by Writing Seminars founder Professor Elliott Coleman, who felt editorial training and publishing experience were essential for the success of his students. It would become the first literary journal published by a degree-granting creative writing department, setting a precedent for others to come. While Coleman's editorial staff took chances on undergraduates like Stephen, they also solicited work from celebrated poets like E.E. Cummings, Richard Wilbur, and Kenneth Burke. The Hopkins Review launched careers, as well; the Fall 1950 edition included John Barth's first published story, "Lilith and the Lion." Like any cultural institution literary journals are a necessary investment for any society that values the humanities. While putting together the Spring/Summer 1953 edition of the journal, editors Robert K. Burns and H.L. Scharf sensed the end was near and braced readers for the worst. In a foreword titled "Last of the Mohicans?" they warned, "It is entirely possible that this will be the last issue of The Hopkins Review , though that is not a certainty." They were frank about why:

The trouble is finances. Like all literary quarterlies, 'The Hopkins Review' cannot pay its own way. Its revenues during the course of a year amount to something less than the printing costs of a single issue of the magazine. Its subsidy from the university has been $1,000 a year, or just over the cost of one of the four annual numbers. … To say that 'The Hopkins Review' is a nonprofit publication would be to belabor litotes. It is not only noncommercial; it is nonsalaried. No contributor has ever been paid for his contribution. Not one of the editors and associate editors has ever received a salary for working on the magazine.

Flipping through the original journals chronologically, one gets a sense of mounting financial unease. In a scholarly publication, I hardly expected to find Mr. Boh, the one-eyed cartoon mascot for National Bohemian beer, but there he was, on the inside covers of every issue from 1950 onward, proclaiming, "Oh boy, what a beer!" By contrast, the previous issues had no ads. Through the years, however, they became ubiquitous: beauty salon and soda fountain ads sandwiched between poems, tear-out forms for mail-ordering the latest paperbacks. Whatever money the editors received for these concessions to capitalism was evidently not enough to sustain the publication.

The 1953 issue was indeed the last issue—for the time being, that is. It would be nearly 60 years before they published the next one.

I f swift and early success, coupled with institutional support, could not guarantee The Hopkins Review 's longevity, it's mind-boggling that any literary publication survives more than a few years. As noted in The Hopkins Review 's farewell letter, these journals are nonprofit enterprises in the most literal sense. They do not make money. The people who start them likely expect to lose a few dollars, a worthy exchange for giving writers space to explore and reinvent. Like any cultural institution—art museums, local theaters, graduate programs in film production—literary journals are a necessary investment for any society that values the humanities.

Typically, the survival of university-based literary publications is not contingent on their ability to make money. Writing Seminars professor and Hopkins Review editor-in-chief emeritus David Yezzi emphasized this fact: "No magazine of this type balances the budget based on subscriptions," he said. "It requires institutional commitment to literature and the humanities." Indeed, subscription fees are almost never enough to cover production costs, let alone pay writers and staff, so magazines usually subsist on a mix of grant and institutional funding. But grant applications aren't always successful, and institutional support has become increasingly unreliable. In 2022, Bard College announced the closure of its elite literary journal, Conjunctions , citing its unsustainable production costs, a move that came on the heels of a $500 million endowment. Perhaps letting these journals die with dignity is better than what the University of Nevada at Las Vegas did to The Believer . In 2017, UNLV bought the popular publication from its parent company, McSweeney's, but in 2022, they decided the production costs were too high, so they sold it to a company called Paradise Media. Replacing the magazine's usual online content—Toni Morrison poems, Bob Odenkirk humor writing—were such headlines as "25 Best Hookup Sites for Flings, New Trysts, and Casual Dating." To introduce the internet's newest salacious search engine optimization farm, the new owners tweeted, "Hi, this is the new owner of The Believer " from a subsidiary company's account called the Sex Toy Collective. The literary community's uproar was so great that Paradise Media quickly sold the journal back to McSweeney's. All this so UNLV could pocket a mere $225,000.

Budget shortfalls in higher education are a nationwide trend. An analysis by the National Education Association revealed that 32 states spent less on public colleges and universities in 2020 than in 2008, with an average decline of nearly $1,500 per student. When faced with uneasy decisions about where to cut costs, universities take aim at less formidable targets—like literary journals and, even more dramatically, sometimes the departments that house them. When the University of Alaska Anchorage defunded its creative writing MFA program, it also ceased funding its publication The Alaska Quarterly Review , a prestigious outlet for poets and fiction writers. Purdue University killed the Sycamore Review after dismantling its highly competitive and esteemed MFA program. And Gettysburg College recently overhauled its budget, choosing to shut down the highly successful Gettysburg Review because it did not, in the administration's view, contribute to "student experience" or "outcomes."

D uring John T. Irwin's 19-year tenure chairing the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, he surely also cared about student outcomes and expectations, but his metrics for measuring them clearly differed from those of today's decision-makers in higher education. From the outset, he was determined to have a campus literary publication for students to work on, arguing that every top-ranking writing program needed one. Ultimately, he would make his vision a reality by reviving The Hopkins Review in 2008, but it took decades—and a lot of fundraising—for him to get there.

Irwin came to Baltimore from Texas, bringing with him a Southern geniality that made him well liked by most everyone. He was known for his infectious humor and boisterous laugh; Writing Seminars Professor Jean McGarry recalls him having "a real knack with people," though students might have been intimidated by him at first glance. He wore a three-piece suit every day to work, liked to spring pop quizzes on unsuspecting students, and could recite countless poems from memory. His choice of office door decoration aptly captured the two poles of his personality: Next to a stoic photograph of Edgar Allan Poe was a banner declaring "Don't mess with Texas."

His first attempt at creating a lit mag resulted in the short-lived Strivers' Row , a joint venture with the English Department that published exactly one issue, in January 1974. It is impossible to know how Irwin, who died in 2019, felt about the fleeting existence of Strivers' Row , but if his next move is any indication, one can guess he was disappointed—that same year, he left Hopkins for the University of Georgia to edit The Georgia Review . His editorial stint there was also brief; according to McGarry, Irwin was dissatisfied by The Georgia Review 's aesthetic.

"He told me it was a very old-fashioned literary magazine," she says. "Even though it was the '70s, it really reflected the '50s. John was interested in modern, very contemporary fiction, critical theory, and psychoanalysis, so he basically went scorched earth. And so, all the oldtimers couldn't publish [in The Georgia Review ] anymore. He told me after a while he had to leave because he had so many enemies. That's what he said. But he came back to Hopkins in 1980 and was hired by John Barth."

Irwin probably felt much more at home working with Barth, a luminary of postmodern fiction, but The Georgia Review must've made an impression on him. Like The Hopkins Review , it debuted in 1947; unlike The Hopkins Review , it never went under. If its traditionalism wasn't inspiring, its longevity must've been.

Why Irwin waited nearly two decades to undertake another editorial venture is a mystery. Nevertheless, in 2005, he announced his intentions to revive The Hopkins Review , which published its first new issue in winter 2008. The three intervening years were spent soliciting funding, securing authors and editors, and coordinating printing with the Johns Hopkins University Press, potentially tricky tasks at which the affable Irwin excelled.

Rob Friedman, A&S '81, who audited Writing Seminars Master of Fine Arts classes during Irwin's tenure and helped relaunch the journal, notes how much the journal's success hinged on Irwin: "I really salute John. He hungered to do this thing, and he did everything he could to make it work. He really pulled in a lot of heavy hitters to give weight to [the journal]. And it is a testament to the respect that people have for John that they gladly came aboard to help him get this thing going."

If the first iteration of the journal ended with a whimper, it returned with a bang. The "new series," as Irwin dubbed it, launched with a mix of fresh and recognizable voices. The first issue included two unpublished stories by the late experimental writer Donald Barthelme, prefaced with a touching note from his longtime friend and peer John Barth. Award-winning poets Mary Jo Salter, John Hollander, and Richard Wilbur appeared in its pages, and future issues would feature venerated literary critics Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler and decorated novelists Alice McDermott and Colm Tóibín. Fifty-five years after the first editors mourned the journal's uncertain future, it was more alive than ever.

Irwin helmed the journal until 2015, when a stroke forced him to scale back his professorial and editorial duties. At that time, poetry Professor David Yezzi was guest editing an issue of the review, a position he hadn't expected to become permanent. But with Irwin unable to continue, Yezzi volunteered to take over.

"I wanted to stabilize everything," Yezzi says, "kind of keep [the journal] on track and grow it from what John had built without doing a major overhaul—extend and innovate within the existing format."

Yezzi upheld the journal's reputation of publishing excellent writers by including the likes of William Logan, Andrew Motion, and Natalie Shapero. Irwin's efforts were not forgotten—when he retired in 2016, the journal honored him with a 36-page Festschrift , a book of tributes for a retiring academic, with contributions (some in poetic form) from 13 of his colleagues.

Yezzi has since passed the torch to poetry Professor Dora Malech, who became editor-in-chief in 2022, just in time for a 15th anniversary redesign. Malech and her editorial team spent a lot of time reimagining the journal for a new generation.

"We had the opportunity to really do some soul-searching," Malech says. "What are we about? What can we be?"

A lot of things, as it turns out. The covers, once uniformly blue and white with a staid black logo, are now full color and full bleed, featuring vibrant art from Baltimore-based artists. Inside, readers will find art folios, visual essays, and a diverse selection of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and criticism from a roster of esteemed writers including Claudia Rankine, Paul Muldoon, Terrance Hayes, Michael Martone, and John Barth. Each issue also contains works in translation from a variety of languages, from Spanish to Yiddish to Swahili. It's the kind of quarterly that Irwin, wary of traditionalism, would've loved.

The journal is not confined to its physical copies. On its website, readers will find podcast episodes and online exclusive features. In the wider Baltimore community, magazine contributors participate in local literary festivals and gather to recite their work at Bird in Hand, a cafe and bookshop across the street from the Homewood campus.

The new series of the journal has received broad acclaim, especially in the past few years.

Michael Dumanis, editor of Bennington College's literary journal, Bennington Review , praised The Hopkins Review 's precise artistic vision: "I think The Hopkins Review is a terrific reclamation, in a digital age of spontaneous website clicks and a glut of decontextualized literary content floating through the internet, of the value of a bound, tangible, unified art object that carefully selects, compiles, and arranges a spectrum of new fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and criticism through a distinct editorial lens. What you get is a cohesive, engaging volume full of varied literary textures ordered into a beginning, a middle, and an end. Every few months, you can read it like a new book."

Since Malech took over, the number of subscribers has doubled. The editorial team, a mix of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and professional editors and writers, cull work from a large pool of unsolicited submissions. Their ability to recognize good writing and collaborate with writers during the editing process has resulted in individual pieces (from each editor-in-chief's tenure) being reprinted in wide-ranging anthologies such as Best American Poetry , Best American Short Stories , Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses , Best Spiritual Literature , and Best Literary Translations . The journal won a 2022 Phoenix Award for Significant Editorial and Design Achievement from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, with the judges noting: "The design changes have brought this important arts journal into the social stream of twenty-first-century cultural connections."

D espite the larger trend of colleges defunding their literary journals, The Hopkins Review 's future seems secure, in large part because it belongs to an institution that chooses to invest in the humanities. The journal has a three-year partnership with the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute and funding from the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, in alignment with its five-year strategic plan, Priorities for the Future . Under Dean Christopher Celenza, KSAS outlined four major priorities: revitalize the undergraduate experience, grow the size of our faculty, enhance the graduate student experience, and promote public-facing scholarship and community engagement.

Faculty size aside, this list could easily be presented in answer to any college administrator questioning the purpose of their campus literary magazine. Literary journals might contain the most accessible, and most enjoyable, form of public-facing scholarship, and hands-on editorial work certainly enhances both the undergraduate and graduate experience. Malech called it "one of the more meaningful experiences outside of the workshop that a program can provide for its students."

Phoebe Oathout, A&S '23 (MFA), who is the journal's current senior editor, agreed: "Before I arrived at Johns Hopkins, I was working in a Wyoming town that fluctuated between 20,000 and 30,000 living in it between the seasons," she says. "I knew I wanted to be a writer but had no idea what the publishing process looked like. When I started my MFA, I heard about the opportunity to edit THR through my closest friend in the program, and primarily joined because she said it was fun. Within my first few months as an editor, I learned what the evaluation side of Submittable looks like, the primary tool used by literary magazines to read submissions, along with what helps a piece stand out from the pile. I was given the opportunity to work with an emerging trans author one-on-one about a piece that I really related to, about a nonbinary character in rural North America navigating homelessness. I got to edit work by some of the nation's leading artists, including Terrance Hayes, Claudia Rankine, Vauhini Vara, and Alejandro Varela. It was the kind of responsibility I had no idea I could have access to, and instead only thought I could dream about."

Oathout's experience, coupled with The Hopkins Review 's indelible impact in literary circles, might serve as proof to skeptical college leaders that there is in fact a return on investment in the humanities. For those who remain in doubt, come to the next reading at Bird in Hand. Grab a latte, peruse the bookstore shelves while mingling with Baltimore's literary community, and find a seat among the stacks—maybe you'll change your mind.

"When we had our end-of-year event at Bird in Hand the other day," Malech told me, "I was watching incredible graduate students from Miami, from New Mexico, meeting members of the Baltimore literary community, interfacing, connecting, celebrating one another's work as editors, as writers, getting to know one another, and I just thought that those are the kind of connections that don't show up in a numerical sense. They're qualitative, not quantitative—but they're also, I think, really invaluable."

Aleyna Rentz is a communications specialist at Johns Hopkins University.

Posted in Arts+Culture

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