Our profile series of the Johns Hopkins Admissions Committee ends at the top with the Director of Admissions, John Latting.
Name: John Latting
Territory: None - I mean all!
Education (College - Major / Minor): Stanford University, Stanford, California, B.A. in Philosophy. M.A. and Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Education at the University of California at Berkeley, in Education Policy and Management Research.
Johns Hopkins Start Date: August 2001
Years in Admissions: 17. Oh my…Isn’t that about how old our applicants are?!
Why did you choose to enter the profession of College Admissions?: I’ve always felt that the transition from high school to college was interesting and important, and this is our focus as admissions officers. Also, colleges and universities are not only great places to spend four years, they’re great places to work, too.
Favorite Animal?: I have only one animal in my life right now (unless wild children count). He’s a guinea pig at my daughter’s school, named “Smores”. I see him every day.
Why did you choose to work for Johns Hopkins?: For many reasons, but at the top of the list is the chance to work with a great faculty, and to bring into the university a group of students with talents in many areas, and who come from points all over the globe. Also, I’d lived and worked in California, a bit in Europe; it was time to experience life on the other coast.
What do you enjoy most about your job?: Knowing that our work is all about offering an opportunity to people (an education at a place like Johns Hopkins), and that this is probably the best opportunity one can have.
How do you approach reading an application?: With the perspective that the application is filled with measurements and evaluations, but that what’s important is the nature of the applicant him- or herself. And the person submitting an application is only indirectly represented by what’s in that application. Measurements are the tools for making good decisions, but they should never by themselves determine a decision. It takes analysis and good judgment to come up with the admissions decision. That’s my approach.
When not reading applications, what do you do for fun?: Go for a drive or out to dinner with my family, go scootering with my two children, and go running by myself.
What are your Admissions pet peeves? (What drives you crazy?): When people think of the admissions process as a competition, all about “getting in”, with the offer of admission as the end of the process. I see admission as the beginning, and often wonder who among our students will do something big in the future!
Favorite College Essay?: One favorite essay? After over 1½ decades of reading them? Actually, I do have a favorite. One stands out. It starts with a description of the applicant and a group of his classmates trying to use a pinhole camera, and how this simple invention is really a tool to help us represent the world around us. The essay moves on to make the point that we need invention (like language, and mathematics and the sciences, and even faith) to understand the universe, as “Everything overwhelms us.” Provocative ideas are expressed with a real poetry in that essay, too.
But the fact is that I really enjoy reading all the essays that come across my desk. We try to ask questions that cause students to write about their families, neighborhoods, towns and cities, schools, friends. All of these things are interesting to me. In the end I see an essay as a window onto the person behind all the measurement I mentioned above.
What three things would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?: Can’t I just do the fashionable thing these days and pretend the day I’m stranded will never come? And not make the hard decisions?
We hope you have enjoyed this ten-part profile series and that you have learned a lot about the various members of the Johns Hopkins Admissions Committee. We make up a fantastic team and as you read this we are all busy reading applications and preparing for that important date in late March when we release the decisions. As you have read, we take our responsibilities seriously yet still find ways to enjoy what we do.