While growing up I was a huge fan of Casey Kasem's "American Top 40" weekly music countdown. (Since many of you are too young to know what I am talking about, check out this Wikipedia entry. In catching up on AT40, I shockingly learned that Ryan Seacrest is now the host ... how sad is that?)
Well, my favorite part of the radio show was the "Long Distance Dedication." Casey would read an emotional letter from a listener that typically detailed a very sad or uplifting story. The letter would end with a dedicated song. Following along those lines, here is my long distance dedication...
Cue the intro music...Cue Casey's unique voice...and let's go:
Welcome back listeners to the Johns Hopkins Top 40. It is now the time in the show where we pause from the countdown and read this week's long distance dedication. This week our letter originates from Baltimore, Maryland and is sent in by someone who goes by the pseudonym Admissions_Daniel. Daniel writes about the connection that was formed with a unique group of students through a modern means of communication, blogging. Here's what he wrote:
Dear Johns Hopkins Top 40,
Oh what an amazing journey it has been. Just over a year ago I began a simple correspondence with a small group of young adults. Now it has blossomed into a nationally-recognized correspondence between me and 1200+ of the most brilliant, unique, and passionate students. This discussion began as an innocent foray into the burgeoning world of blogging, and transformed into so much more. It started as another of my job responsibilities as Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for Johns Hopkins University. I was simply tasked with connecting with the the future JHU Class of 2011 through blogging. But now as it all comes to an end I realize the journey has meant a great deal to me and the students. To best explain, I think we first need to take a look back.
The first time I wrote to them was at the end of April 2006 when my office had just completed our work with the previous class. I had hit the road for some spring travel events to start recruiting the '11ers. (April 29, 2006) After six days of events and meeting (May 5, 2006), it was time for me to take some time off during the summer while periodically updating and also requesting feedback about the best blogs (June 26,2006). The rest of the summer included updates about Open Houses (July 17, 2006) and one of my favorite posts - "Lots of Little Things" (July 30, 2006). As the summer ended it was time to announce the arrival of '06-'07 application (August 1, 2006), hit the road again for recruitment (September 19, 2006) and comment about the spectacle that is the US News and World Report rankings (September 8, 2006).
October was witness to a great Explore Hopkins program (October 2, 2006), an amazing trip to Pittsburgh for a National Conference (October 15, 2006), two great fall Open Houses (October 22, 2006) and my return home to experience Fall and the start of the reading season (November 1, 2006). November was a big month as we re-launched Hopkins Interactive (November 15, 2006) and I introduced the students to the inner-workings of reading ED applications (November 30, 2006). We wrapped the year with the release of Early Decision notifications (December 15, 2006) and my favorite post of the year -- "The Approach" (December 6, 2006).
The start of 2007 saw me getting organized and the deluge of RD files begin (January 31, 2007). While the staff was busy evaluating applications throughout the winter, the '11ers hopefully enjoyed getting to know the Admissions team (February 19, 2007), Valentine's greetings from my niece Lilly, and the application guessing contest (February 14, 2007). February concluded with the Oscars (February 23, 2007) and then the biggest news of the year ...The Hopkins Insider in the Washington Post (February 24, 2007).
The Post article led to a nearly 10x increase in my readership, which was perfect as the month of March turned into my busiest of blogging months (March 2007). March ended with my live blogging of decision day (March 28, 2007). April and May came fast and furious, and included numerous update posts (April 16, 2007; May 18, 2007, and June 6, 2007), a special post for the Admits (April 19, 2007), the "Big Decision" post (April 23, 2007), and one of the most emotional posts following the Virginia Tech tragedy (April 18, 2007).
That trip down memory lane really proves again what a long year it has been and what a wild and crazy journey. An emotional reflection to say the least ... I enjoyed almost every moment. But now it is time for me to say goodbye to the Class of 2011 as I must move on to future classes. As a special tribute and blogging farewell, I request that you play Journey's " Don't Stop Believin' " for the Johns Hopkins Class of 2011.
Many know that this specific song played a key role in another recent finale - that of the television show the "Sopranos." Similar to that final episode, I hope that when the students finish reading my farewell entry that abruptly their screen turns black and there is no more story being told to them. The next four years is for them to decide what the story should be ... it is a blank slate for them to choose their own paths. I wish them all the success in the world, and truth be told, Hopkins is the right place for each and every one of them to accomplish their goals. Enjoy the ride ... I will be watching from afar.
OK, I know that this blogging farewell may be a bit cheesy, but heck it is summertime and my mind right now is a bit loopy. I hope you enjoyed the attempt at some humor, but also that you all reflected back on the past year with the Hopkins Insider blog. As I said before, it has been a long and winding trip.
Continuing with the "Johns Hopkins Top 40" countdown theme, I thought I would share with you all something that the Hopkins Interactive students and I compiled over the last few months. During our final discussions of the spring semester, the group and I compiled a list of the 40 Things a JHU undergraduate must do before graduation. We had hoped to use this list in a more unique way, but those plans fell through. But this final entry (dedication?) is the perfect place to share.
As you all get ready to arrive on campus this fall we strongly suggest creating a list like this. Use this list as a starting point, but change some of the responses, add or subtract ... make it your own. Then spend your four years at Hopkins making sure to accomplish each and every one of the items on your list. It's going to be amazing.
40 Things To Do Before Graduation: (in no particular order)
1. On a nice spring day, go outside and pretend to work while falling asleep on the Beach (the lawn in front of the library).
2. Go to a lacrosse game, sit with other Hopkins students in The Nest, and help cheer on the beloved blue jays on their way to another NCAA championship.
3. Actually locate Carma's cafe, and then order their legendary Icelandic yogurt ... served by Carma herself!
4. Let out some energy, and work out your upper body, by going to the Recreation Center and climbing on the rock wall.
5. Go to an Orioles Game at Camden Yards and cheer on the hometown team… hopefully they’ll win.
6. Walk to Hamden and scope out the plethora of antique shops, then dine at one of their many funky restaurants.
7. Find out what’s behind the crab craze by visiting Fells Point and letting the locals school you in the ways of Blue Crab in Baltimore’s famous Old Bay sauce.
8. Satiate your late night munchies by walking over to Paper Moon at 3 a.m.
9. Go check out one of JHU’s acappella groups, like the AllNighters…or better yet: audition for one.
10. Enjoy Spring Fair’s food fare, and don’t forget the “chicken on a stick,” deep-fried Oreos, funnel cakes, and foot-long hot dogs.
11. Spend an afternoon walking around the Baltimore Museum of Art then eat dinner at Gertrude’s, overlooking the sculpture garden.
12. Go to Vaccaro’s for all-you-can-eat desserts and coffee Monday nights for $12.
13. Scout out the area's free food such as free ice cream on your birthday from Cold Stone.
14. Choose from one of the eclectic courses by returning to Baltimore for intersession and taking a crazy course such as jump-roping, ballroom dancing, story telling, and many more.
15. Take a break and feel like a kid again by walking down to the corner of N. Charles and 28th St. and playing at the local playground.
16. Walk around the Bufano Sculpture Garden and try to guess the animal each sculpture represents.
17. Get crepes from Sofie’s Crepes and bring them into a movie at The Charles.
18. Pick up a book other than a textbook at the annual Baltimore Book festival.
19. Relax and enjoy a musical evening by listening to the dulcet tones of the JHU students at a Peabody concert.
20. Bundle up and get ready for the holidays with Hamden’s “Miracle on 34th St.” festive street light decorations.
21. Witness the Outdoor Club's streaking through the library during finals - or join in yourself.
22. Learn how to navigate the JHMI to the MARC to the Metro and travel throughout D.C.
23. On a Saturday morning, walk to the Waverly Farmer’s Market then grab brunch at Pete’s Grill.
24. Paddle a dragon boat around the Inner Harbor.
25. Volunteer to help out with an Admissions Open House or to host a prospective student.
26. Grab some friends and head over to X & Os (also called “Xandos”) for make your own s’mores.
27. Sleep on one of the many comfortable the couches in Gilman Hall.
28. In April and May when the tulips and azaleas are in bloom, head over to Sherwood Gardens in Guilford for a lazy afternoon in the sun.
29. Check out a JHU tradition, the Lighting of the Quad, in December.
30. Take the Collegetown shuttle to the Towson area for some stress-relief-related shopping. They just opened a J Crew and an H&M- very college.
31. On Halloween, hop on the JHU shuttle down to Fells Point for a night of crazy costumes and awesome antics.
32. Head down to the American Visionary Art Museum for a taste of the wilder side of Baltimore.
33. Check out one of the fraternity's annual beach party -- the basement is filled with the sand and every year the Kelly Bell band performs.
34. Go see what is considered to be the vibrant personality of the real Baltimore by visiting Lexington Market, the longest continuously running market in America whose past visitors have included Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Thackeray.
35. Visit one of Baltimore’s main attractions by checking out the “National Aquarium” after five on Fridays for only $8.
36. Expand your horizons by attending HSC’s Diwali festival.
37. Get on a first name basis with Ms. Leesey, Ms. Ruthie, Ms. Jackson, and Dolores, the lovely lunch ladies of the FFC and the Charles St. Market.
38. Get to know the countryside by going hiking or kayaking with the Outdoors Pursuits Program.
39. Sculpt your hair into a beehive for Hamden's annual Honfest.
40. See a movie projected on the side of a building from Mr. John’s house in Little Italy. ****************************************************************************************
Though this is a blogging farewell to the Class of 2011 from the Hopkins Insider, it doesn't mean this is a goodbye. I will still be answering questions and feeding information on the JHU Incoming Class of 2011 Facebook Group. We know even though you are just finishing up with registering for classes over this week, you are still going to have tons of questions about Orientation, Housing, What to Buy, etc. etc. etc.
As well, this does not have to be an ultimate farewell as when you arrive on campus this fall there will be a ton of ways you can get involved with the Admissions Office. Later this summer you will get information about volunteering for the various admissions groups -- we select students to be tour guides, overnight hosts, Open House volunteers, and even part-time jobs in the office. As well, there will be a few open spots on the Hopkins Interactive team.
And as I wrap-up this farewell, this long distance dedication, this closing of the blogging book on the Class of 2011 ... I want to offer all the new '11ers a chance to be immortalized and celebrated in the blogging world ...
BLOGGING CONTEST FOR THE CLASS OF 2011:
* Submit a blog entry to be posted to our Guest Blog. The entry should relate to the general topic of preparing to arrive at Hopkins this fall. You can discuss the anticipation you feel, how busy you are with buying things for your dorm room, or about the various mailings you have been receiving. You can also take a more reflective approach and discuss your decision to attend Hopkins and what you think the next four years will bring. In fact, you can write anything.
* I will select the three "best" entries to be posted in August. The entries will be judged primarily on whether they are interesting, enjoyable, and paint an intriguing picture of a new freshman getting ready for their college experience.
* Email your entry as a Word document to firstname.lastname@example.org. More details will be posted on the Facebook group. I'll also answer questions there in case I am being too vague right now.
I look forward to your submissions.
Farewell and enjoy the rest of the summer. See you on-campus this fall.