Amuse the Johns Hopkins University Admission Committee: How to Write a Good College Application Essay

To get into Johns Hopkins University, it’s important for you to know how to write a college essay that captures the attention of the reader. Fortunately, by keeping certain essential tips in mind, you’ll be able to do so easily.


First, it’s important to carefully review the prompt. JHU asks students to respond to a new prompt each year. Make sure you understand the requirements regarding word length and formatting and contact the admissions department if you have any questions.


When writing your first draft, simply brainstorm some relevant ideas and write your various thoughts down on paper. This first draft isn’t about crafting a perfectly structured essay. Rather, it’s about expressing your ideas so you have them all in one place to go on writing. Once you have them on paper, it’s easier to sort through them to choose the best ones.

Editing & Polishing

Trying to impress the admission department at Johns Hopkins University? There are plenty of obvious tips out there for how to accomplish this goal, but odds are good everyone else submitting personal statements already knows about them. You and all the other students submitting apps have all heard the same advice about making sure you respond to the correct prompts, ensuring your work isn’t too long or short, and sticking to the proper format. If you’re not comfortable expressing your thoughts in written language, you might worry that you won’t be able to attend and graduate from your dream school due to the poor quality of your admissions essay.

That’s why it’s important to understand some key points about what separates a great, effective college app paper from one that’s merely good. To gain entrance into your school of choice, keep these tips in mind:

  • Get Their Attention: You’ve spent so much time in high school learning how to write essays according to an established template that your work may come off as boring to a reader. Because this is a more personal type of paper than what you’re used to, you can be a little creative. In the introduction, don’t start your paper like a typical academic essay, stating the major ideas and themes you’ll be exploring. You want to capture the reader’s attention right from the top. Ways to do that include starting the paper with a question, prefacing it with a quote, or describing an interesting situation and then later providing the necessary context;
  • Respond to the Prompt: It doesn’t matter how strong your paper is if you don’t abide by the requirements established by the school. Johns Hopkins University provides its applicants with specific prompts each year—make sure you respond directly to it. The prompts are usually fairly open-ended, so it should not be too difficult for you to pick a relevant topic. Johns Hopkins University takes a holistic approach to determining which applicants they’ll admit. While other portions of your application serve to illustrate your past academic success, the essay portion gives you the chance to share your personality while also proving that you can follow directions;
  • Be Unique: Try to avoid common topics and ideas that other applicants are likely to write about. True, many people share similar important life experiences, but the people who have to read these essays get bored when they encounter dozens of papers on “My Favorite Childhood Memory Ever” day after day. Ask a question: “When thinking about myself, what about my life and character makes me unique?” Maybe you worked in a job that most people don’t have experience with—explore how it shaped who you are today. Perhaps you want to attend this particular college for a reason that’s deeply and uniquely tied to your sense of self in a way that distinguishes you from other students. Making a strong impression is all about making sure your work doesn’t sound like every single other essay the admissions team is going to read this year;
  • Show Off Your Personality: Obviously, you need to make sure you stick to the required length for the paper, use the right formatting, and write in perfect English. However, when writing about yourself, it’s also important to simply step back and think about who you truly are as a person, and how you can convey that in your paper. For example, if your friends and family consider you to be a funny person, now is your opportunity to inject some humor and personality into the work, taking a decent essay and transforming it into something amazing. Although no amount of humor can replace substantial content, you do want to try and entertain the reader. Personality is what makes an essay memorable;
  • Be Specific: Many people use the application essay as a way to demonstrate their overall values and strengths as a person. While this is a good strategy, make sure you provide strong examples if you’re going to be writing about yourself in this manner. For instance, if you’re applying to college in order to study business, you might want to convince your reader that you have strong leadership skills, or that you’re generally successful at anything you put your mind to. These are good traits to focus on, but in order to make your reader truly believe you, it’s important to offer clear, specific examples from your life that prove your claims are true;
  • Always Have the End in Mind: Your goal when writing this paper may be to get accepted to your dream school, but in truth, that’s just one step in a very long process. Even at this stage, think forward to graduation. What do you want to do with your life? What impact would you like to have on the world? The future may seem far off, but your future plans are the entire reason you’re pursuing a college education in the first place. Make sure your reader understands that you have specific goals you wish to achieve in life, and explain how attending this school will help you achieve them.

If you’re having troubles with writing a personal statement, read samples of other application essays. They’re fairly easy to find online. Once you have a sample you can refer to, you’ll know what elements make for an effective, strong essay. For people who know that writing isn’t their strong suit, it’s a good idea to take this step very early in the process. You need to devote a substantial amount of time to drafting and revising your essay if you plan on submitting the best work you can. Give yourself time to get familiar with the qualities of an ideal admissions essay. Starting early will also allow you to seek help from teachers or other skilled writers you know. Odds are good they’ll be more than happy to look over your paper, helping you identify ways in which you can make it even better than it already is. But do not forget to check your essay letter-by-letter to make sure it is perfect.