For an admissions professional like myself the summer is really split into two phases. Phase number one is when we focus on finishing up everything related to the previous year's admissions cycle: completing tasks related to the incoming class, wrapping up any major projects, and reflecting on everything through reports and analysis. Phase number two is all about moving forward and planning for the coming admissions cycle. The other part of the summer for admissions people, and probably the best part, is we take A LOT of time off and vacation -- much needed and well-earned vacation time.
A few weeks ago I returned to the office after 18 days of vacation quite refreshed and relaxed. The problem since my return is that I am stuck in the middle of the two phases. I still have a few items to wrap-up the past year and then I really need to start planning for the coming year. I've got two fall travel trips to plan, revisions to Hopkins Interactive to organize, and planning for this year's incarnation of the Student Admissions Advisory Board, to name a few "to do" list items.
As I transition between these two phases, and also count the 14 days or so until my second long summer vacation, I thought I would compose a blog entry that looked back over the past year. Specifically, I have gone through the nearly 400 entries and chosen the TOP TEN BLOG ENTRIES of the 2007-08 admissions year. These were chosen primarily by me with a bit of input from colleagues and students, and I feel they all are fantastic examples of the amazing work produced through the Hopkins Interactive web site this past year.
So enjoy this top ten list and flashback, and I strongly encourage you TO FOLLOW ALL THE LINKS posted below. You will not be disappointed by taking your time and reviewing these amazing blog entries:
In my opinion, all of the Alumni Blogs this past year were fantastic, but my favorite had to be 2006 JHU grad Bryan Kaminski's "From One Bay to Another." The entry featured Bryan's six simple points of advice to future college students and graduates. These points all had a central theme of making the most of your collegiate and post-collegiate years and were formulated during Bryan's four years at Hopkins and in his post-JHU career working for Google's University Programs Team in San Francisco.
II. Roxi Details Surviving the Tough Times at Hopkins
Hands down for me, the most risk-taking student blog entry of the past year was Roxi's well thought out and written discussion on academics at Hopkins. Her "No Joke ... To the Class of 2012" entry perfectly displayed her emotions during a very rough academic period at Hopkins. This one entry paints a true honest picture of the academics at Hopkins, while also dispelling many of the myths about the hard work it takes to succeed.
Her final paragraph sums it up perfectly:
One of my favourite shirts that people wear around campus is the "Hopkins: Only the Strong Survive" shirt (I think it's for this graduating class, but don't quote me on that I could be wrong). At any rate that's maybe one of the truest statements I've heard about this university. You think you've got what it takes? Great. Ready to get your butt kicked, pick yourself up, and start over? Excellent. Do you want to do something really meaningful with your life and you won't let anything get in your way? Perfect: I'll see you next year Class of 2012.
The Parent Blog was one of our best ideas of the past year. Once again each entry had its own special attributes, but the one that people most commented to me about was written by our one father -- JHU Class of 2011 Lauren's father Glen Carney. "Tales From a Freshman Dad" is a heartfelt entry that brought some people to tears, and thoughtfully and realistically discussed the emotions of a Dad sending his daughter off to college. I applaud Mr. Carney's ability to share these emotions, something that very few fathers would discuss (though they clear share similar feelings).
IV. Sage College Advice from a Rising Senior
Political Science student Julia became a budding college counselor this past year, dispensing sage advice in a number of posts. Taking many of her blog topics from education articles in The New York Times, Julia presented two entries this past year that I hope all prospective students will pay attention to. First in October she wrote "Don't Worry Be Students," a look at how students find the things they love at their chosen college -- basically that the majority of students make their chosen college the best place for them. Stemming from these concepts, Julia encourages all prospective students to "chill out" and not stress out as much about the college selection process and admissions statistics, as is the end they will end up where they are supposed to be.
Then in January she published her "College Counseling" entry that stemmed from a NYT's article that provided helpful advice on working with one's guidance counselor during the admissions process. Julia emphasizes that working with counselors is helpful, but students should also do their own research and focus primarily on what they want in a future college environment. Both entries provide great advice, and you didn't have to pay thousands of dollars to an independent crook -- oops, I meant independent counselor.
V. Every Month is Newsworthy
This was one year with a ton of noteworthy events and we tried to document them as much as possible in our This Month at Hopkins entries. Each month brought amazing stories, like the feature on the new study abroad office in November, or the Hopkins in Egypt features in February, or the Commencement wrap-up in May. But the biggest newsworthy month had to be "March at Hopkins" with the announcement of President Brody's retirement.
Every once and a while one of the student bloggers will compose an entry that after reading it I will encourage everyone I know to read it because it is that thought-provoking and enjoyable. This past February, Class of 2011's Mandy wrote such an entry. Her "So, What is Carbon" entry was one of the first that came to mind when I thought of the best blog entries of the past year. I could summarize the entry here but then I would really spoil it. Just click on the link, read the full entry, and see what makes Hopkins students so unique and scholarly.
For the first time in Hopkins Interactive history we had student bloggers writing while attending a study abroad program. First in the Fall, Esther wrote while in Switzerland and then in the Spring, Laura detailed her experiences while studying in Florence. It was wonderful to read each of their blogs on a regular basis not only so you could hear about their wonderful adventures abroad but also it made you want to head to Europe right away.
The best of the study abroad entries for me has to be Esther's "Another Short Movie" post this past November. Here Esther uploads a 90 second little video where she educates us on the four things everyone needs to know before heading to Switzerland: Cash + Cows + Cheese + Chocolate. A very clever post from a very creative Hopkins student.
VIII. Viral Video Hits Hopkins
The top Hopkins Interactive improvement over the past year was the implementation of our Videos section and our new Hopkins Interactive Video Blog. The Hopkins Cribs entries are always a highlight of the great video work of the Hopkins Interactive students, and are some of the most popular blog entries of all time. For me though, my personal favorite was the "Inside the MSE Library" video presented by Jessica, Blake, and Josh. Their 7-minute exploration of the MSE Library was not only humorous and informative, it also helped to dispel some of the myths and mysteries of the Hopkins library. Check it out.
Some of the strongest student blog entries continue to be posted on our Hopkins Interactive Guest Blog where we feature a different student each week. It was really difficult to pick my favorite entry of the past year, but when I really thought about it I had to go back all the way to August when we published the winners of our Summer Blogging Contest for the incoming freshmen of the Class of 2011. Those four selections were fantastic and shed light on the transition from high school graduate to college freshman - the summer transition.
- Joshua: "The Quiet Things No One Ever Knows"
- Jessica: "Metamorphosis..."
- Celeste: "Slippery Marble, Crab Cakes, and Dropped S's. Oh My!"
- Lauren: "You, Your Bed, and Your World"
If you are an incoming member of the JHU Class of 2012 you can compete in this year's Summer Blogging Contest -- more details can be found here.
Three of the winners of last year's blogging contest went on to become freshman bloggers and write some of the best entries of the year. Since there were so many great freshmen bloggers who created the 2011: Hopkins Freshman Blog -- a new idea of a shared blog by four first year students. Stephanie, Rob, Jessica, and Josh presented four similar but also quite different at times perspectives on one's first year. In addition to the Freshman Blog, Lauren and Mandy (see VI. above) also became full-time bloggers.
As I went back and reflected on the great work done by the freshmen, three entries for me were quite memorable.
1. One of Josh's more recent entries was a look back at his completed freshman year. "Sentimental Heart" should be read as a freshman year survival guide.
2. Jessica consistently wrote detailed entries about her first year experiences, but is was her "Intersession" entry that became my favorite. In the entry she neatly detailed her different experiences with classes, work, and hanging out with friends, during the optional January term at Hopkins.
3. We all know Lauren as the blogger that uses the most words each entry, but as an avid fan of her blog I can attest that each word is necessary. Her lengthy entries proved their worthiness in her "The Year in Review" entry.
I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane, and took the time to click on the links and experience these great blog entries. Do you have any favorites not mentioned here? If so, let me know by sharing your favorite Hopkins Interactive blog entries in the comments section below.