Claire - Johns Hopkins University - Class of 2013

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Our Johns Hopkins tour guide was so enthusiastic that I fell in love with the place. And all the happy people I saw couldn't all be pretending!

I have always felt a strong affinity for animals. After three years of working at a veterinary hospital, I knew I wanted to continue to promote their health and quality of life as a veterinarian.

Hometown: Norwalk CT

High School: Public

GPA: 3.86 / 4.51 (weighted)

SAT: 2190

Major: Biology

Goal: Get straight A's, learn to ballroom dance, get involved in politics, and become a veterinarian

College

Status

Johns Hopkins University (ED)Attending
American University Withdrawn
Boston College Withdrawn
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Princeton University Withdrawn
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Washington University in St. Louis Withdrawn
Freshman Year Update

Hopkins is great. The campus is beautiful (even when it's buried under two feet of snow), although getting off campus is difficult. But the year has been quite eye-opening for me. I went from ranking at the top of my class to getting average scores on my tests and some below-average grades on homework. So my advice for next year's class is to be prepared to watch your grades drop even as your amount of studying quadruples. Go talk to your professors. Most are quite nice, actually, and want to help you better understand what you're learning and get a good grade in the process. Also don't forget to sleep! (Seriously.) Make time in your schedule for meals, because you might forget otherwise!

Senior Year Update

I am halfway done with senior year and couldn't be happier! I was accepted to Tufts Veterinary School, so a lot of stress is off my shoulders and I can focus on work, classes, and enjoying my senior spring. There have been plusses and minuses to choosing JHU, and I'm not sure I would make the same choice again. I wish the school had been more up-front about class sizes, which are small for anyone NOT in science (my average science class had about 300 students) and the lack of transportation around the city. I'd definitely recommend that prospective students VISIT classes to find out how many people there actually are. On the plus side, I've made incredible connections at Hopkins who will be mentors and friends for years to come. All in all, does it balance? I think the answer is yes.

Narrowing my pool of college choices

My top priority was finding a top-ranked college that would prepare me for veterinary school. I also wanted small-to-medium-sized classes so I could get individual attention from professors, a pretty campus not in the middle of a city, and really friendly people. I figured that if the college kids were nice to the visiting high-schoolers, they must be at least decent to each other.

I picked colleges by looking at average SAT and ACT scores from their most recent freshmen classes. Comparing their scores with mine, I separated schools into "reach," "match," and "safety" schools. Next, I applied my location test: close but not too close. I wanted to come home with ease but I did not want parents "dropping in" whenever they wanted. Looking at the size of the undergraduate population and the average class size helped me shrink the pool of choices even more.

Johns Hopkins rises to the top

My dad and I spent April vacation traveling down the East Coast, looking at colleges on my list and deciding which ones were worth the application fee. Being able to actually visit the campuses was an integral part of my decision-making process. I found several schools that had the right amount of students, interesting campuses, and people who seemed very pleased to be there. This was especially true at Johns Hopkins. Our tour guide was so enthusiastic that my father and I both fell in love with the place. I was convinced that the beautiful Hopkins campus was perfect for me. And all the happy people I saw couldn't all be pretending all the time! I applied for an early decision, so when I was accepted there, I could not have been happier!

I believe I stood out to Johns Hopkins because I showed a deep commitment to being a veterinarian, such as volunteering at a maritime aquarium and an animal hospital for three years. My orchestra commitment showed the colleges I have a few other things up my sleeve. Also, meeting with the preveterinary advisor at Hopkins helped tremendously because she put in a few good words for me during the admissions process.

My ups and downs

The most challenging part of the application process was finding time to actually write the essays. I had to write 11 essays, one for each application. I recommend beginning the writing before senior year actually starts. I had six essays done at that point, so I didn't go completely crazy when school started. I have friends who didn't start early and were completely swamped with schoolwork and college applications.

The most satisfying part of the process was being done. When I submitted the last application and had nothing more to do other than wait to be accepted somewhere, it was a huge weight off my shoulders.

What I learned

Don't wait until the end of summer, or (heaven forbid!) the start of school, to find colleges you want to apply to or to start working on your applications. Otherwise you will face crazy days and sleepless nights as you rush to apply to your dream schools. Don't wait, make it happen!

The money factor

My parents are paying for most of my college tuition, but I have been searching for scholarships since junior year and have been awarded almost $17,000 in outside scholarships, which makes it easier for my mom and dad to think about funding my education.

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