Greetings from Baltimore and welcome to the "Hopkins Insider" blog. Two years, nine months, 4 days, and 1 leap day ago, I wrote those same words as this Johns Hopkins Admissions blog was launched. Since that first entry (check it out here), I have published 141 posts, fielded 1,086 comments, had 258,026 page views, and increased my average views per day from 31 to 238. Also during this time frame, my entries have been read primarily by prospective students and applicants for the Johns Hopkins classes of 2010, 2011, and 2012. My additional readership has consisted of prospective parents, guidance counselors, colleagues and current students at Johns Hopkins, colleagues at other institutes of higher education, the media (thanks Washington Post), friends and family (Hi Mom and Dad!), and even my niece. It has been a wonderful journey.
As I embark on the 11th admissions cycle in my career as a college admissions counselor ... this time recruiting the Class of 2013 (that still sounds so futuristic) ... I thought it was time for a re-introduction of the Hopkins Insider blog. I came to the realization that those who read this blog back in December 2005, or throughout 2006 and 2007, are probably not still frequent visitors. And more significantly, many of those who read the blog today (238 per day according to my tracking software), might not really know Who and What is the Hopkins Insider. Times have changed and with a new readership this is the perfect time for me to re-introduce both myself and the purpose behind this blog.
WHO IS THE HOPKINS INSIDER?
My name is officially Daniel G. Creasy and I am an Associate Director of Admissions at Johns Hopkins University. I use "officially" next to my name because many know me by my pseudonym (alter ego?), Admissions_Daniel. I have been, am currently, and will be in the future the primary author of this Hopkins Insider blog.
I entered the occupational side of College Admissions in the Fall of 1998, though I do feel like I first started along this professional track when I was searching for colleges back in the early 1990s. I ended up at a good college, one that was part of the Ivy League football conference and named after a color, and had a unique four years of undergraduate study in political science, communications, and a bit of film and sociology. The unfortunate part of my undergraduate years is that I had chosen the wrong school for me ... but I only learned that in retrospect.
After a mini-crisis regarding what I wanted to do with my life after graduation, I stumbled across the field of College Admissions and a proverbial light bulb went on in my head. My first Admissions job was for a wonderful university in Washington, D.C. where I honed my skills in the field for nearly five years. I then followed a good friend and colleague up I-95 to Baltimore and assumed my role on the Admissions staff at Johns Hopkins University. Five years later I am still here doing much of the same stuff I was hired to do back in August of 2003 -- regional recruitment manager and application reader for New England, Admissions liaison to the Whiting School of Engineering, manager of electronic communications, and all around good guy.
During these 10 years in Admissions, I have also focused much of my attention on a specialty in the field that I call e-recruitment. Simply put, e-recruitment is the use of Web-based media and programs in the recruitment of prospective students and applicants. I first began this form of outreach all the way back at my alma mater when,as the tour guide coordinator, I published my school's first online virtual tour. Then while in my first Admissions job I experimented with online chats and instant messaging to communicate with admitted students. It was not until I arrived at Johns Hopkins that I really began to explore the use of Web 2.0 (phrase explained here) technologies in connecting with prospective students.
At JHU, I have been given tons of freedom to explore blogging, message boards, online chats, viral video, social networking systems, and so much more. Much of my early vision came to fruition back in December 2005 with the initial launch of Hopkins Interactive. But since then, I have been able to expand on those ideas with the help of a tremendous group of student volunteers. Our collective vision and ideas about how to recruit prospective students to Johns Hopkins University in the 21st century is manifested now in the third version of Hopkins Interactive. And just wait to see what we have in store for version 4.0 launching throughout the academic year.
By pursuing these various avenues during my professional career, I have focused on presenting a more transparent view of the admissions process while also presenting as realistic and honest portrayal of Johns Hopkins University as possible. I have set my goal to be more an Admissions Counselor than Admissions Officer, focusing on how I can assist students through this complicated process rather than acting as a sales person for the school that pays my bills. The Hopkins Insider blog for me has become the centerpiece of my career goals, as it gives me the opportunity to break down any walls between Admissions and the applicants, and provide students with an inside view of how it all works. This is my chance to assume the role of the Wizard with the curtain pulled aside and everyone getting to see how it all works. It is my grand hope that for the past 140+ entries and all the entries to come, that I am able to help provide some clarity and answers, help reduce the levels of stress and anxiety in today's high school students, and also make you laugh a bit along the way.
As a side-note, for those new to the blog, be aware that I often will take tangents in my entries. I have many interests and I like to write about them, so be prepared for discussions on:
- Television and my favorite shows such as LOST, Dexter, Rescue Me, Prison Break, House, Life, Dirty Sexy Money, Entourage, Numb3ers, Dirty Jobs, Iron Chef America, .... I could go on and on.
- My lovely niece Lilly who will turn 3 in January and will continue to be the star in my life.
- Movies galore ... I am a huge Oscar fan and come February, be on the look-out for my annual Oscar picks.
- My dog Soze, who yes is named after Keyser Soze from my favorite film of all-time, The Usual Suspects.
- My beloved New York Mets, who at this moment I hope are not going to collapse again at the end of the season (like last year). :-(
- All topics of pop culture ... I am an addict.
My core principle behind authoring this blog is that occasional tangents into my personal thoughts, can (1) show that there are real human beings reviewing your applications; (2) make you laugh a bit and help de-stress about the whole college admissions process; and (3) start some debate about meaningless things. So now that you know the man behind the blog, let's look back at the evolving purpose of the Hopkins Insider blog.
WHAT IS THE HOPKINS INSIDER?
Well, it is a blog. More specifically, it is an Admissions blog. O.K. seriously, the Hopkins Insider blog is a behind-the-scenes look at how the Admissions process works at a highly selective institution of higher education. The blog is an access point for information about the often confusing and hidden operations of an Undergraduate Admissions Office. It has always been my hope that the blog would act as a resource for the asking and answering of questions about Johns Hopkins and the Admissions process, and become a personal window into the application review process.
At the onset I was a newbie to the blogging world and I kept the entries pretty simple. Early topics focused on answers to frequently asked questions, details about how admissions decisions would be released, snippets on special features of Hopkins Interactive, and news-worthy happenings at the Homewood campus. But over the years the blog has evolved and I hope has become more than just an information source.
The evolution of the Hopkins Insider blog commenced when I began to not only provide information, but I started providing advice, suggestions, and opinions. I began to break down the barriers historically created to prevent an understanding of how highly selective admissions works. I showed my readers how the Admissions Committee review process is set-up, discussed how the Admissions Committee renders decisions and shapes a class, and introduced my fellow Committee members and had them discuss their approach to reviewing applications. I swung the doors open as much as I could and through my words and some pictures displayed the chaos as well as the sanity behind admissions work. This push for transparency was also a push to "calm the admissions storm." My entries sought to provide as much clarity as possible.
In addition, there has always been an ulterior motive of the Hopkins Insider blog and the Hopkins Interactive Web site ... dispelling myths. As I have said many times before, there are many misconceived notions and impressions about the undergraduate experience at Johns Hopkins University, and through this blog and the many student blogs, we seek to paint a true picture of life at Hopkins and debunk any of the crazy myths that are out there and are perpetuated by people who don't care to learn about the real Johns Hopkins University of today. Dispelling / debunking myths has become a motto of the Hopkins Insider blog, and I must say it has been one of the most fun parts of writing these entries. It is still a delight when I come across a surprised reaction from a prospective student or parent when I inform them that the most popular major at JHU is International Studies, or that we have the second best creative writing program in the country in our Writing Seminars major, or that we have one of the best History of Art programs, or that we have gotten rid of pre-medical studies -- O.K. that last one is not true. You get the point though.
So as the Hopkins Insider blog enters into another admissions cycle and the Class of 2013 dives into the application process, the core principles of the blog stay the same ... INFORM / DISPEL / UNCOVER / HUMOR / DEBUNK / CLARIFY / EXCITE and entertain as much as possible.
REBOOT - SO WHAT'S NEW?
For those not new to the blog, you may have noticed some major changes. I felt with this "re-boot" and re-introduction to the Hopkins Insider it was time for a blog make-over too. That first meant a new lay-out template, the fourth design I have used for the blog and already my favorite look.
As well you will notice there are now two side columns with linkable information, not just one. Once again there are listings of all the other blogs on Hopkins Interactive (University Blogs and Student Blogs) as well as links to the Hopkins Insider archives (both in list and calendar form). You will find the "Recent Posts" and "Recent Comments" sections a bit easier now, as well as the various blog subscribe links.
What's new includes:
- CATEGORIES: Yes, with the help of two great students (Jessica and Erica) we have been able to go back and categorize all my past Insider entries. Now my readers can use this easy list of topics (also presented as a tag cloud) to scour past entries and learn more about my Admissions staff colleagues, or read my past advice columns, or participate in past trivia games. Personally, I feel the category function is a great and extremely useful addition, and I hope it helps navigate all the information posted in the past.
- SHARE THIS LINK: At the end of each entry now is not only the way you can comment on the blog, put also a system for sharing the blog to your friends, family, classmates, etc. The system is pretty straight-forward and helps you share the blog entry through AIM, email, Facebook, MySpace, digg, and a ton of other communication means.
- WIDGETS: I have also added a Blog Search widget and a Polls widget, adding a few more bells and whistles.
I hope you enjoy the new design and enjoy all the new and exciting blog entries I have in store for the academic year. Stay tuned!
***Oh yeah, and one final note about the pictures. Some of you may be wondering the significance of the pictures strewn throughout this entry. Well, to celebrate this look back and look forward, I thought I would share a collection of my favorite pictures that I have posted to the blog over the past few years. (Hey if you are really bored, you can consider the pictures an invitation to a scavenger hunt -- look through all my past entries to find which entry corresponds with which pictures.) Enjoy.