One week from today the Homewood campus will be fully invaded by the 1200+ members of the Johns Hopkins Class of 2012. After months of anticipation (and thousands of answered questions in our Class of '12 Facebook group), the caravan of SUVs, mini-vans, taxi cabs, and even some Hybrid cars will arrive. The doors will open, the passengers will file out, and the move-in parade will commence. Over this coming Labor Day weekend, students and parents will be oriented and then part ways with hugs, some tears, and endless wishes of good luck. My favorite good luck phrase has always been, Miracle Max's "Have fun storming the Castle!" quote from the fantastic The Princess Bride film.
(((Click here to check out our Move-In videos from last year.)))
With move-in and orientation and the fall semester all on the horizon, that means this is my blogging farewell to the Class of 2012. My attention now fully turns to the prospective students that will make up the Class of 2013 and beyond. It has been a wonderful past year and I truly look forward to watching what this incoming freshman class will accomplish. As a class, you have tons of promise, loads of creativity, an amazing collective intellect, and a vast diversity of backgrounds and opinions. And now you will come together and be presented with vast opportunities, academic and social, to succeed both individually and collectively. Paint me a dynamic color of green, as I am truly jealous of all of you.
My jealousy stems from my burning desire to repeat my undergraduate years. I'd love to go back and do it all again, knowing what I know now. If you will allow me, let me offer a few pieces of sagely advice:
- EXPLORE: Your undergraduate years are truly the one time in your entire education cycle where you are in control and can make your own choices. Take advantage of that freedom and flexibility, and explore all those avenues in front of you. Your academic career does not need to be a simple straight line between points A and B.
- EXPAND: Yes you have certain interests and passions, but now is a chance to expand beyond them. Try new things both academically and extracurricularly. Never taken a Sociology class before ... sign up for one. Never been in a theatrical production ... go audition. Never been in a late night political debate with peers ... say something challenging after midnight. College is no time to be stuck in your comfort zone.
- CREATE: Not everything right now has to be about your future. Don't make every decision based on what a future employer or medical / law / graduate school will think. You have four years, and even though time will fly by, take advantage of everything available to you. You are enrolling at the premier research institution in this country ... if you do not take advantage of the innovative and creative vibe that permeates Johns Hopkins, you will regret it.
- BALANCE: There is so much available to you and there is a tendency to take on too much at times. As well, some of you may be so fearful to take on challenges. There is a happy balance for each of you and you need to find it. Your studies will not be too overwhelming that you can not get involved. Remember, you will need a balance of collegiate studies while pursuing your non-academic passions, contributing to your community, and yes, partying.
- COMMUNICATE: My biggest mistake in college is I thought I knew everything already. DON'T DO THIS!!! None of you know everything ... none of you. Constantly ask questions and ask for advice. Use your academic advisers, your faculty, the Career Center, the Counseling Center, your residential adviser, the Pre-Professional Advising Office, etc. etc. etc. Also, don't forget to communicate with your peers ... they are experiencing similar issues and may see things in a different light. And finally, don't forget about your friends and family back home -- keeping them in the loop is important.
- ENJOY: There will be times of stress ... there will be rough hurdles to overcome ... there will be moments of frustration. But, there will be so much more as well. Remind yourself often how lucky you are that you get to study at a world-renowned institution, with a stunning campus, a compelling faculty, a uniquely diverse student body, and endless opportunities.
O.K., I now step off my soap-box ... but I hope you all consider these words carefully and in these final days before your personal college experience commences that you reflect on what got you here and what you want to accomplish over the next four years.
I must admit that my jealousy also extends from the fact that you still have your youth. See at 33 years of age, I am by far not ancient, but this week has reminded me that I am also no longer young. This coming Monday I celebrate my fifth year as a Johns Hopkins Admissions Counselor, which also means that I begin my second decade in this profession. Yikes!!! I am glad I still love what I do.
But what really hit me this past week and reminded me of my elderly status, was the publishing of the annual "mindset list" by Beloit College. For those unfamiliar with this list, it was created by Humanities Professor Tom McBride and presents perspectives (mainly pop culture references) about what freshman have experienced and what they have never experienced in their lives. The list is a snapshot of the world view of each year's class of college freshmen. Reading over the list this past week it amazed me that most of the Class of 2012 never even knew the 80s as they were born in 1990. The other items on the list that freaked me out:
- The Tonight Show has always been hosted by Jay Leno.
- There has always been Pearl Jam.
- Pee-Wee has never been in his playhouse during the day.
- Clarence Thomas has always sat on the Supreme Court.
- They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego.
- Caller ID has always been available on phones.
- They have never known life without Seinfeld references from a show about "nothing."
- The Hubble Space Telescope has always been eavesdropping on the heavens.
- WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.
- Students have always been "Rocking the Vote."
So, farewell Johns Hopkins Class of 2012. And also, welcome '12ers to the next stage of your life. Allow me to finish with one last piece of advice. Over these next few days before you step foot on the Homewood campus as a freshman, create your own Johns Hopkins undergraduate "bucket list." Create a list of things that you want to accomplish before you don your cap and gown and cross the stage at Commencement. The list can be as long as you want, can contain what ever you choose ... but make sure to bring the list with you, post it somewhere in your freshman dorm, and then set-out to cross every item off on the list. To help you get started, below I re-publish a list created by the Hopkins Interactive students last year.
Good luck ... Buena Suerte ... God Speed ... Best Wishes ... Break a Leg ... Vaya con Dios ... Have fun storming the Castle.
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 Hampden 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 a capella 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 Hampden’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 Hampden's annual Honfest.
40. See a movie projected on the side of a building from Mr. John’s house in Little Italy.