Homewood will soon get a little touch of color: yellow
and red, to be exact.
Starting this week, prospective students and their
families who are touring the campus will be given yellow
cloth tote bags with the words "Johns Hopkins" set against
a red background; underneath in smaller letters will be the
phrase "Undergraduate Studies in Liberal Arts and
They're not just a cute giveaway.
The bags are intended to alert faculty, staff and
current students to visitors — and encourage them to
make them feel welcome at Homewood. The slogan for the bag
campaign, which will be supported in coming weeks with
posters and ads in university publications, is "Spot a
bag... make a friend."
The new totes are part of the
Undergraduate Admissions' larger marketing effort aimed
at attracting more applicants — in particular those
with an interest in the humanities disciplines — and
enhancing the sense of community on campus.
An admissions marketing positioning study,
commissioned by the university in fall 2004 and completed
in May 2005, found that many prospective students did not
ultimately choose Johns Hopkins because they felt it was
not a friendly enough campus or they didn't perceive a
"liberal arts environment," described by some as a total
experience that blends academics and social life.
In light of these findings, the Office of
Undergraduate Admissions decided to hone its marketing
effort in an attempt to increase the undergraduate
applicant pool and highlight the social and community life
While applicant numbers were already on an upward
climb, senior admissions officials felt they should be even
higher, given the university's stature.
In 2002, 8,900 high school seniors applied to the
schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. "These
relatively low numbers meant we could not be as selective
as we would like to be," said William Conley, dean of
enrollment and academic services.
In order to attract more humanities-oriented students,
he said, the university would need to fight the perception
of a campus that caters to pre-meds and budding scientists
who simply want to study hard.
"Academics is a major factor in terms of why students
come here, but it's not differentiating us enough from our
peers," Conley said. "We learned from our positioning study
that those who did not apply to Johns Hopkins, or chose not
to come here, placed a high value on a sense of community
and campus life. And this group clearly felt we were not as
strong in these categories as other schools."
To date, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions has
launched a retooled Web site that now features more
peoplecentric images, such as students hanging out on "The
Beach" in front of the Eisenhower Library and a student
scaling the Recreation Center's climbing wall. Admissions
also recently launched its Hopkins Interactive site, the
centerpiece of which is a collection of blogs in which
current students document both their academic and social
lives, on and off campus.
"The Web site is all about people now, not buildings
or pathways," Conley said. "We want to show a Johns Hopkins
where people are interacting with one another and also show
that there is a pulse to the campus."
"Welcome!" banners have been hung on Levering and
inside Garland Hall, the first stop on campus tours, and
"Ask me anything!" lapel buttons will be worn by Admissions
staff. In addition, Admissions publications have been given
a fresh look, utilizing brighter colors and full-page photo
In full, Conley said the university wants to make
prospective students feel more welcome, whether they are
reading a publication, surfing the Web site or touring the
campus in person.
"Some of the feedback we gathered told us that by and
large the campus visit was not a pleasant enough
experience," he said. "At least not as much as it should
The new yellow Hopkins bags will be given to visitors
at the start of the campus tour. The bags, as well as the
new printed Admissions materials, Web site and marketing
pieces, were developed by the Office of Design and
Conley said that tour guides will highlight the
abundance of recent positive changes to campus, several of
which have come as a result of the university's Commission
on Undergraduate Education final report — the
overarching theme of which was the need to strengthen
community and foster a balance between academic and social
The early results of the university's push in these
areas are promising. Just over 11,000 students applied to
the Homewood schools last year, and Conley said that nearly
14,000 have applied for fall 2006 admission.
"This is a trend we want to nurture," he said.