How to Write the Johns Hopkins Supplement 2019-2020

Johns Hopkins University is a research university in Baltimore, Maryland. The university is comprised of nine academic divisions and 5,292 undergraduate students. Johns Hopkins prioritizes diversity. The student body includes individuals from all 50 states and 51 countries. They also prioritize student engagement and on-campus innovation. There are 400 student organizations on campus, and Johns Hopkins spends the most money on research and development of any university in the United States.

Like every school that offers Early Decision, the Early Decision acceptance rate at Johns Hopkins is different from the Regular Decision acceptance rate. Based on last year’s numbers, if you apply to Johns Hopkins ED, you have a 9.2% chance of being accepted. If you apply RD, your chances drop to 7.7%.  

The supplement for Johns Hopkins has stayed the same this year, but we like to think through it with fresh eyes and a year’s worth of perspective.

Write a brief essay (300-400 words) in which you respond to the following question. 

Successful students at Johns Hopkins make the biggest impact by collaborating with others, including peers, mentors, and professors. Talk about a time, in or outside the classroom, when you worked with others and what you learned from the experience.

Johns Hopkins demands teamwork. It is practically a requirement for graduation. If you are someone who prefers to work alone, Johns Hopkins may not be a good fit for you.

If you love teamwork, awesome! You’ll have a lot pull from for this supplement. As they say, you can look inside or outside of the classroom. Many student-athletes will immediately start brainstorming examples of teamwork from their experiences on the field, rink, track, or trail. While sports teams do offer a lot of opportunities for collaboration, we encourage our students to look beyond athletics. Why? Because writing about sports is too easy. It’s also obvious and overdone. You could be the best lacrosse player at your school, but that doesn’t’ mean your essay about lacrosse will be distinctly different from any other student’s essay about lacrosse.  

The only exception to this rule is if you are truly outstanding at your sport — we’re talking Olympic-level athletes and 4-star QBs. If you fit that mould, you’ve probably already been recruited and signed, so this is relatively irrelevant.

Now that sports are almost-certainly off of the table, it is time to look elsewhere for inspiration. Projects that you have been part of that are academically adjacent are particularly fertile ground. A student interested in tech could write about designing a video game with friends, for example. A student interested in going pre-med could write about doing original research as the most junior member of a research team. To write a successful essay with that framing, we would encourage this theoretical student to fully embrace that she wasn’t at the top of the totem pole. Her job was to do a lot of the stuff that the more experienced students (who were also older) didn’t want to do, but that had to be done. Being willing to do the less-pleasant work shows a school that you are more focused on driving a team towards success than in collecting accolades for yourself. That’s just a rough example, but we hope it can spark some ideas for you as you consider this prompt.  

Once you have a focus, zoom in further. You have 300-400 words. That’s not a lot of space, but it’s a good amount, and it’s certainly enough to tell the reader a story that illustrates your experience in vivid detail. Remember to show before you tell. There should never be a sentence that starts out, “This was an important experience because…” Why it was important should be obvious, but embedded.


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