How to Write the Johns Hopkins University Supplemental Essay

May 6, 2024
8 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/6/24

Interested in attending Johns Hopkins? Below, we’ll explain how to write a winning supplemental essay to help your application shine!

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is a top-tier institution known for its high commitment to excellence in research and education. Hopeful students must demonstrate their academic potential, values, and unique characteristics.

Your supplemental essay is an excellent opportunity to tell the admission committee about your experiences, aspirations, and enthusiasm for Johns Hopkins. You can also use them to explain how your values align with the school’s mission and highlight your potential to contribute to the university.

In this article, we will go through the process of crafting a compelling Johns Hopkins supplemental essay and provide valuable insights into approaching your response so you can increase your chances of admission.

Johns Hopkins University Supplemental Essay Prompts 2024

On Common App, students are required to respond to just one supplemental essay prompt for their Johns Hopkins application: 

Prompt #1

Tell us about an aspect of your identity (e.g., race, gender, sexuality, religion, community, etc.) or a life experience that has shaped you and how that influenced what you’d like to pursue in college at Hopkins. This can be a future goal or experience that is either academic, extracurricular, or social. (200-350 words)”

How to Write the Essay Prompt for Johns Hopkins University

Not sure how to respond to this year’s prompt? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered! This section will give you key tips to help you focus your approach. 

How to Write the Johns Hopkins University Supplemental Essay #1 + Analysis and Tips

Analysis of Prompt: The university makes this question open-ended to its applicants so they can write about their culture and identity, which has shaped their values and aspirations. The prompt is a good example of a diversity essay in which the applicant will discuss the link between their identity and goals at JHU. This means the admission committee wants to know how your life experiences will impact what you want to achieve in the institution.

Below are some tips to take note of when writing the JHU supplemental essays:

  1. Start With Self-Reflection: Reflect on various aspects of your identity or life experiences, and select one that has significantly shaped your perspective or values.
  2. Highlight Personal Connection: Detail a specific event, realization, or experience that intimately connects this aspect to your identity. Express why this facet holds personal significance, revealing the emotions or values it embodies. 
  3. Link to Future Goals: Clearly connect this aspect of your identity or experience to your future goals, explaining how it has inspired your academic, extracurricular, or social aspirations.
  4. Do Your Research: Show that you've researched specific programs, opportunities, or values at Johns Hopkins, and demonstrate how your chosen aspect aligns with what Hopkins offers.
  5. Express Enthusiasm: Convey genuine enthusiasm for joining the Johns Hopkins community, letting your passion for your chosen aspect and future pursuits shine through.

Example of Johns Hopkins University Supplemental Essays That Worked

In this section, we’ll provide essay examples written by successful JHU applicants. We’ll also discuss why each of these responses worked to help you make sure your own essays are impactful and impress the admissions committee.

Sample Essay #1

Prompt: “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).”

“I stood in the dying light of the sun and a large campfire, facing out at the [NAME OF TRAINING PROGRAM]. The rest of the staff I had been working with joined arm around shoulder. I was a Troop Guide, the outward face of the course. I led presentations, guided participant activities, and most importantly, was responsible for a patrol of six 12-13 year olds. By the last day, I saw them solve their own internal conflicts and lead themselves using skills I had presented on, modeled, and coached them on. At the final campfire, I reflected on my time in Scouting and the people who had impacted me. I looked back at those kids, waving goodbye in the light of sunset, all teary-eyed, and the lead scoutmaster leaned towards me and whispered, “They won’t forget this.” With that simple phrase, I learned that I can make an impact. That I can change a small, but important, part of this world. 
My experience with young adults and supporting their mental wellness and leadership as a Troop Guide has cemented my interest in mentorship as well as a desire to become a Director of an in-patient psychiatric unit. I plan to pursue a major in Psychology or Cognitive Science, focusing on children and teens. Starting in high school, I found my passion for the mind and mental health. I myself have had previous experience with depression and anxiety, and have served as a close friend and confidante for many suffering with more severe issues. Being able to help these friends and others brings me great comfort, and I realized that I could turn this into a career that stimulates both my intellectual interests and my calling to help others. My focus on young people derives from the idea that helping at a young age provides them the best possible future. 
Johns Hopkins provides many opportunities to explore these interests. The highly-regarded Psychology department at Johns Hopkins would make this possible, with a variety of focuses among professors, from cognitive science to personality development that stokes my interest in interdisciplinary coursework. I would also pursue research into early diagnosis of mental illnesses like depression and schizophrenia. Additionally, the many extracurriculars including the A Place to Talk, The Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Center for Social Concern would allow me to continue to aid my communities.”

Why Essay #1 Worked

In their response, the student seamlessly connected their role as a Troop Guide, mentoring and coaching young individuals, to their genuine passion for understanding and supporting the mental well-being of young people. 

This not only illustrated their ability to lead and make a difference but also laid the foundation for their desire to major in Psychology or Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins. 

By establishing a thoughtful link between hands-on experience and academic aspirations, the student showcased personal growth and underscored a commitment to contribute meaningfully to the university's community, leveraging its resources for a deeper understanding of mental health and mentorship.

Sample Essay #2

Prompt: “Founded in the 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)”

Let’s take a look at how a JHU student responded to this prompt: 

“O genki desu ka?” (“How are you?”)
“Hai, genki desu.” (“I’m well.”)
That’s the standard greeting my mom and I have with our Japanese sensei. It’s a light, idiomatic way to start the lesson and gets me ready to master the day’s grammar and vocabulary that, though confusing at first, eventually reveal their simplicity and clear logic the more I study them. But in my 8 years of studying Japanese, I always perk up when [NAME]-sensei mentions the ramen museum in her hometown of [CITY] or the life-size ice castles built at the annual [NAME OF FESTIVAL]. Learning about the different cultural elements that make Japanese society unique is what excites me about learning Japanese. But I realized that many of my other [ETHNICITY] friends did not have the same exposure I did to Japanese culture. Soon, I wanted to share that special uniqueness with people who may not have been exposed to Japanese culture before.
One summer, I got the opportunity to teach Japanese to other [ETHNICITY] children in my local community. While I made it a point to prioritize learning the necessary grammar and vocabulary, just like in the lessons I took, I made sure that we started each class with a “Question of the Day”, an introduction to the lesson designed to get my students’ thoughts on a particular Japanese cultural practice. I’d ask their opinion about a particular aspect of Japanese culture that differed from American or even Indian norms, such as the taboo of speaking on the phone on a Japanese train, or the godlike status of the Japanese emperor. 
When they’d say, “I actually think it's a good idea to not talk on the phone on the train” or “I admire the culture of not littering that they have in Japan”, I felt joy in seeing that they were not only engaged in the lesson, but that they had also grown comfortable teaching me the reasoning behind their views, even if it wasn’t popular or easy to explain. What started as an experiment of sharing my fascination toward the Japanese language and culture with a younger generation has morphed into a mutual exchange in perspective, a philosophy embraced at Johns Hopkins that will serve me well in my future endeavors.

Why Essay #2 Worked

This essay stands out because it seamlessly shares the student's journey with Japanese language and culture in a down-to-earth yet informative way. The use of casual Japanese dialogue at the start adds a personal touch, which instantly grabs the reader’s attention.

As the essay unfolds, it transitions from the student's love for Japanese culture to their hands-on initiative of teaching it to others. The essay reflects the student's dedication to spreading cultural awareness within their community. By incorporating a fun "Question of the Day" in their language classes, the student not only showcases their creative teaching style but also aligns themselves with Johns Hopkins' ethos of encouraging exploration and unique experiences. 

In essence, the essay artfully tells a story that resonates with the spirit of Johns Hopkins while emphasizing the student's commitment to sharing diverse perspectives and fostering community connections.

Sample Essay #3

Prompt: “Founded in the 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)”

I wish everyone here were more interested in maps and royal lineages like I am. That way, I could more easily connect with people”, I thought to myself.
I was nearing the end of my freshman year at a new high school. For me, it was a completely different environment. When once, school had been 5, 10, or even 30 minutes away, [NAME OF SCHOOL] was a full hour from my house. That 1-hour drive teleported me into a world of large mansions, fancy cars, and intricately manicured front lawns that I wasn’t used to in my hometown. Needless to say, I felt a little isolated in this new setting, and found myself wishing that I could just find something in common with any of my other peers.
It was only when I heard that my classmate [NAME] had started his own podcast at the start of the summer that I was struck with an idea. What if I made a podcast about any topic, and invited classmates who were interested in that topic to talk about its history? It was perfect: I could express my love of history while connecting with my friends at school.
I hit the ground running. From talking about the struggles African Americans faced under slavery and Jim Crow to discussing the influence of the sitar on modern pop music, I was fascinated by the depth of my friends’ knowledge and the passion portrayed on a plethora of different topics. Even after we’d finished recording an episode on a given topic, my friends and I would continue to sit and discuss that topic’s repercussions and ramifications on societies from the past up until today, such as those of “redlining” in Long Island, which are clearly visible on a map of the area and even more clearly visible upon a drive through the area. 
Soon, my confidence in myself grew as I discovered that, though pure history may not fascinate everyone like it does for me, learning from my peers helped me grow closer to them than a shared interest ever could. Now, whether I’m learning life lessons from professors over dinner or hearing the perspective of my fellow students on an aspect of Japanese culture, Johns Hopkins catalyzes countless opportunities for me to dive much more deeply into any topic while forming the lifelong, meaningful friendships that have always been so invaluable to me in the process.

Why Essay #3 Worked

This student details their journey of feeling isolated in a new high school and then seizing the opportunity to bridge the gap through a podcast. The narrative explores diverse topics relating to their identity and interests, showcasing the depth of the student's friendships and the meaningful conversations that they inspired. 

The essay reflects on the transformative power of shared learning experiences and how this growth aligns with the student's aspirations for Johns Hopkins. It effectively communicates a personal story of overcoming isolation and finding connection through exploration and shared interests.

Get More Sample Essays Here!

Take a look at our College Essay Example Database to read other Johns Hopkins essays that impressed the admissions committee.

FAQs: How to Write the Johns Hopkins University Supplemental Essays

Below are some of the frequently asked questions and answers about JHU supplemental essays:

1. Does Johns Hopkins University Require Essays?

Yes, Johns Hopkins University has just one essay to which all the applicants are supposed to respond.

2. What Is the Recommended Length for an Essay at Johns Hopkins University?

Your Johns Hopkins essays should be no longer than 350 words.

3. How Should I Respond to the Johns Hopkins’ Supplemental Essay Prompt?

Make the response personal. It is important to note that the school is looking for how an aspect of your background has contributed to your story, which includes your character, values, and aspirations. Also, consider how your culture or identity will affect your stay at JHU.

Final Thoughts

The Johns Hopkins essay is an opportunity to show the qualities that set you apart from other applicants. Your essay should be well crafted and engaging while perfectly demonstrating your values and aspirations. With a good essay, you can confidently secure space for yourself at Johns Hopkins University.

Good luck.

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