written by
Arianna Lee

Johns Hopkins University Essays Guide: 2021-2022

Essay Guides essay guide Admissions Tips 12 min read
Johns Hopkins essay image: a photo of Johns Hopkins University's main campus and sign

Not sure how to approach the Johns Hopkins essay prompts? CollegeAdvisor.com’s guide to the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays will show you exactly how to write engaging Johns Hopkins essays and maximize your chances of admission. If you need help crafting your Johns Hopkins supplemental essays, create your free account or schedule a no-cost advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

Johns Hopkins Essay Guide Quick Facts:

  • Johns Hopkins University has an acceptance rate of 9%—U.S. News ranks Johns Hopkins as a most selective school.
  • Johns Hopkins is ranked #9 in National Universities.

What is Johns Hopkins known for?

Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins University is a private research university located in Baltimore, Maryland.

Widely considered the first research university in the United States, Johns Hopkins’ popular majors include public health, biomedical engineering, molecular biology, international relations and affairs, and economics.

Interested in applying? This John Hopkins essay guide will teach you how to maximize your Johns Hopkins essays and increase your chances of admission.

Is Johns Hopkins hard to get into?

Last year, over 30,000 students applied to Johns Hopkins. The school boasts famous alumni like novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and film director Wes Craven. As one of the 9% of applicants admitted to Johns Hopkins, you’d be in good company.

Your Johns Hopkins essay can be a great opportunity to introduce yourself to Admissions Officers, fill in gaps in your application, and make a case for why you belong at Johns Hopkins. With expert advice from CollegeAdvisor.com, we’ll help you craft engaging Johns Hopkins supplemental essays and maximize your admissions odds.

Does Johns Hopkins require supplemental essays?

Yes—in addition to the main essay prompts on the Common App or Coalition App, you must complete one Johns Hopkins-specific essay. For a complete list of application requirements and access to the Johns Hopkins application essay, visit the Johns Hopkins admissions website.

Need help navigating your Common App application? CollegeAdvisor.com’s Common App essay breakdown can help de-mystify the process.

How many essays do you have to write for Johns Hopkins?

Applicants only need to write one Johns Hopkins essay, which has a word limit of 300-400 words. Since this is the only Johns Hopkins essay prompt, you’ll want to give this essay the attention it deserves.

Johns Hopkins EssayPrompt 1 (Required)

Founded on a spirit of exploration and discovery, Johns Hopkins University encourages students to share their perspectives, develop their interests and pursue new experiences. Use this space to share something you’d like the admissions committee to know about you (your interests, your background, your identity or your community) and how it has shaped what you want to get out of your college experience at Hopkins. (300-400 words)

The Johns Hopkins essay prompt may feel overwhelming. After all, its open-ended nature lets you discuss anything that matters to you! In the next section, we'll break down how to tackle the Johns Hopkins essay and stand out to admissions officers.

How do I write the Johns Hopkins essay?

As you approach the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays, remember that Johns Hopkins University is a research institution. Like any university, they want to build a diverse academic community of intellectually curious individuals— inside and outside of the classroom. This Johns Hopkins essay invites you to share what makes you, you. Then, it asks how this aspect of you will guide your time at Johns Hopkins and beyond.

Strong Johns Hopkins essays will invite the reader into the world of the applicant. A successful Johns Hopkins essay will use descriptive, dynamic language. Focus on setting a scene rather than trying to dazzle readers with SAT vocabulary words. After all, the best Johns Hopkins essays will be the most authentic!

Ready to craft an impressive Johns Hopkins application essay?

Organize your thoughts

Begin drafting this Johns Hopkins supplemental essay by thinking about who you are. Start a list of your key qualities and categorize each item using the criteria in the Johns Hopkins essay prompt: your interests, background, identity, and community.

Distinguish each category—interests, background, identity, and community—as carefully as possible as you start to tackle this Johns Hopkins essay prompt. Begin with your interests. For example, if you devour every article and book you can find on quantum mechanics, that’s an interest. Avoid listing non-intellectual interests like an obsession with learning new TikTok dances. Of course, if you plan to major in dance or sociology, you may be able to connect these activities to what you hope to experience at Hopkins. Think of yourself as a student and community member — use that to guide your Johns Hopkins supplement essay topic.

Background

Next, shift to your background. Think about where you come from and how these places and experiences have made you who you are. In your Johns Hopkins essay, you’ll want to avoid cliché, overly sentimental aspects of your background. For example, having a parent who attended Johns Hopkins may have shaped why you want to attend, but this doesn’t tell Admissions Officers anything interesting about you or what you hope to learn at Johns Hopkins. Look for experiences that sparked intellectual curiosity. Are you a softball player that spent a season perfecting your pitch but, in the process, began learning about physics?

Then, move to identity. When categorizing identity in this Johns Hopkins essay, you may automatically default to the classic definitions: ethnicity, gender, age, religious beliefs, etc. While there’s nothing wrong with starting here, think outside of the box for this Johns Hopkins essay prompt. Are you a contrarian? An activist? A pessimist? Thinking about the less obvious ways that you self-identify can help you write an interesting Johns Hopkins essay.

Community

Finally, shift to your community. Jot down some of the communities you belong to. Whether it’s a religious community, your neighborhood, or even the building where you live, list the spaces you inhabit. Again, this Johns Hopkins supplemental essay rewards those who think outside the box. Are you an active member of an online community of gamers? Do you spend time with fellow gardeners sharing tips on how to care for plants? Community manifests in a wide variety of ways; as you brainstorm for the Johns Hopkins essay prompt, make sure to cover all important ways you live and work with others.

Reflect

After jotting down experiences, interests, identities, etc., sit with your list for a day or two. Do any items stick out as a perfect response to this Johns Hopkins essay prompt? If not, don’t worry. Try our reflection exercise. Set a timer and spend 30 minutes or so expanding on a few of your topics. Limit yourself to 10 minutes per topic. Were there any topics that you couldn’t stop writing on? If so, you’ve found the subject for your Johns Hopkins supplement essay!

Tell the Story

In this Johns Hopkins essay prompt, you only have 300-400 words. Use them wisely to maximize the impact your Johns Hopkins essay can have in admissions.

This word count creates the key challenge of the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays: namely, you'll want to balance a concise structure with descriptive language. Your language should draw the reader into the interest, background, identity, or community your Johns Hopkins supplement essay addresses. At the same time, you'll want to avoid excessive wordiness.

Let's try an exercise to help you make your Johns Hopkins supplement essay shine. Which of the descriptions below seems more engaging?

Example 1: Since the age of five, I’ve belonged to my local church.

Example 2: There is a pew in the center of my church. If you look closely, you’ll see where I scratched my initials into the wood at age five.

See the difference? Both sentences communicate the same information (church attendance from a very young age). However, the second example provides details that invite the reader into your story.

Read over your Johns Hopkins essay and think about how every word serves your essay's overall narrative. Your Johns Hopkins essay should use as few words to make as significant an impact as possible.

Make Johns Hopkins Connections

This Johns Hopkins application essay isn’t a “Why Johns Hopkins” prompt in the classic sense. However, this essay still asks how your identity, background, interests, and community have shaped what you will bring to Hopkins. Johns Hopkins essays that answer this part of the prompt will be the most impressive.

Maybe you know what you want to major in and can draw a clear connection between your background/identity/community and that intended major. Use this Johns Hopkins essay to emphasize that connection. Successful Johns Hopkins supplemental essays will reveal both who an applicant is and why they belong at Johns Hopkins.

Let’s revisit the “gamer community” example.

Ex. I have learned so much from organizing coding events in my online gaming forum. My friends from all over the world have shown me that even if we don’t speak the same language, our passion for coding and games is universal. I’m looking forward to taking classes in the JHU video game design lab and building a bridge between my online community and the in-person one I’ll find at JHU.

If you don’t yet know your major, you can still answer this portion of the Johns Hopkins supplemental essay. To do this, you’ll want to make the focus of your Johns Hopkins application essay more abstract. For example, let’s say you choose to write about your community, specifically the apartment building you live in.

Ex. The hot Houston sun draws the people from my building by late afternoon. Grannies of every race and culture line the long bench in front of the building and watch the younger children play. The other families in building 3318 are like my extended family. I’m reminded of this when I knock on Mr. Johnson’s door to borrow an extra onion for my mom’s soup or when I’m invited to a birthday party for one of the Gonzalez cousins. Family is where you find it, and location makes all the difference. At Johns Hopkins, I’m hoping to build a community like the one that my family and I have found in building 3318.

Johns Hopkins Essay Key Questions:

When you’ve finished your Johns Hopkins essay prompt draft, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I clearly identify an interest, part of my background, identity, or community?
  • Am I writing about my topic using descriptive, dynamic language that draws the reader in?
  • Does my Johns Hopkins essay draft show evidence of how this interest, background, identity, etc. has shaped me?
  • Is there a connection between my topic and what I hope to learn/experience at Johns Hopkins?

What does Johns Hopkins look for in an essay?

The best Johns Hopkins supplemental essays will be genuine and vulnerable. They will also showcase traits that would make you a valuable addition to the Johns Hopkins community. Your Johns Hopkins supplemental essay should reveal who you are beyond your scores and transcript, allowing the admissions committee to view you as a person rather than a statistic.

Every year, the university publishes several successful Johns Hopkins essays. Read over these Johns Hopkins essays to get an idea of what works. Notice in these Johns Hopkins supplemental essays that each student has a concrete sense of self. For example, in the Johns Hopkins essay “Oreo by Design” by Faith, she discusses her identity as a Black woman and a musician. Similarly, the Johns Hopkins application essay “Lessons Learned” by Zerubabel explores his background as an immigrant and how his family's evolution in America has shaped who he is as a student and community member.

All of these Johns Hopkins essays are unique. In the case of Jess’s Johns Hopkins supplemental essay, “Fried Rice in One (Not So) Easy Step” Jess begins her essay with a recipe. By including this Johns Hopkins application essay, the university is encouraging you to be creative in not only your experience but the way that you structure your response to the Johns Hopkins essay prompt. Think about how you can replicate this kind of creativity in your Johns Hopkins application essay.

Make sure your Johns Hopkins application essay structure serves the prompt. Creativity is good, but you don’t want your Johns Hopkins supplemental essay to look and read like a gimmick. Above all, tell your story in the way most authentic to you!

Finally, and it should go without saying, these Johns Hopkins supplemental essays are examples. Don't think of them as a blueprint of how you must structure your own Johns Hopkins application essay. You also shouldn’t compare the experiences shared in these Johns Hopkins supplemental essays with your own.

Johns Hopkins essays are personal statements. Every person is unique—every Johns Hopkins essay will be, too. Strong Johns Hopkins essays will be inherently individual, so don't worry if yours doesn't look like the examples.

Does the Johns Hopkins essay matter?

Everything that is included in the Johns Hopkins application is important, from your mid-year report to the Johns Hopkins essay. Treat each item on the application as crucial to creating a compelling candidate profile.

With more selective schools like Johns Hopkins, most candidates have high test scores and GPAs. The Johns Hopkins essay, then, becomes a chance for you to truly stand out from other applicants. Strong Johns Hopkins supplemental essays can make a major difference in admissions!

Johns Hopkins Essay – Final Thoughts

Completing the Johns Hopkins application essay can seem like a daunting challenge. Try to view this Johns Hopkins supplemental essay as an opportunity to introduce yourself to the admissions team. Use the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays provided on the JHU site for inspiration. You have a rich well of personal experiences to draw from for this Johns Hopkins application essay—you just have to give yourself the space to find it.

Remember that the Johns Hopkins application essay matters! Maybe you’re applying with fewer extracurricular activities than you would like or perhaps a lower SAT/ACT score than normally accepted. A well-written Johns Hopkins essay can be the difference. Use this guide to help you approach the Johns Hopkins supplemental essay with a solid strategy and a timeline that gives you a few months to create a draft and allow for revisions. Good luck—you’ve got this!


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This 2021-2022 essay guide was written by Senior Advisor Arianna Lee, Dartmouth ‘17. Want help crafting your Johns Hopkins supplemental essay? Create your free account or schedule a no-cost advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

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