The national "blogging" wave has hit Johns Hopkins'
shores as several schools have turned to the popular Web
instrument as a way to illustrate undergraduate student
In December, the
Office of Undergraduate Admissions for the Homewood
schools launched Hopkins Interactive, a site whose
centerpiece is a collection of blogs in which current
School of Arts and Sciences and Engineering students
document their day-to-day lives, everything from the
classroom experience to the weekend scene in Baltimore.
The School of
Nursing went live just after Thanksgiving with its own
blog site, in which eight nursing students write, too,
about all aspects of their lives at Johns Hopkins.
While Peabody currently does not have a blog page, the
school recently launched phase two of its Web site's
redesign and now has blog capability. The school hopes to
develop a student-run blog page in the near future.
For the uninitiated, a blog (short for Web log) is an
online diary or journal. Like a diary, an entry can be long
and profound, or short and to the point: "Woke up today.
Daniel Creasy, an e-recruitment specialist and senior
assistant director in the Office of Undergraduate
Admissions at Homewood, said that blogs have become the
newest trend in admissions nationwide as they help put a
human face on a university.
"For us, the blogs can help dispel some of the myths
about Johns Hopkins as they allow prospective students, or
recently admitted ones, to see the university through a
student's point of view," Creasy said. "There are so many
similarities between colleges when you look at just the
printed admissions materials. It's only when you visit the
campus and hear from students that a clearer picture starts
to take shape. These blogs will offer a look at Hopkins
that [prospective students] simply can't get through a
The Hopkins Interactive site, created for and by
students, touts a view of Homewood from the inside out.
Michelle Brown, a sophomore neuroscience major, said
that one reason she agreed to keep a blog was that she
recalled how difficult it could be to obtain some
personally specific school information when she was a high
school senior, like exactly how the school's meal plan
would work for her, or whether its combined degree program
would meet her career goals.
"When you are on the outside, it's not always clear
how things work. So it's useful to hear from someone who
has already been through the process or is in a program
that you're interested in," said Brown, a Florida native.
"Also, I knew there were many misconceptions about Hopkins,
like this is where fun comes to die and we're all pre-meds.
But in my case, I'm involved in a lot of things, both
academically and socially. This is a great place, and I'm
having a really good time. I wanted to share that."
So, what goes into each entry? Brown said her
inspiration simply comes from her daily experiences.
"I guess now I've made my life so that I see things
and ask, is this blogworthy? " Brown said. "I might be at a
concert, sporting event or in an interesting class and
think, this would be an interesting or fun thing to write
One of Brown's entries talked about the vast array of
Johns Hopkins T-shirts available; another mentioned a band
of student Christmas carolers who paraded around campus
during finals time. Another student's blog detailed a
recent road trip to a debate tournament, while yet another
talked about a recent shopping experience in Charles
The Homewood schools currently have eight
hand-selected bloggers: four freshman, three sophomores and
one junior. Creasy said he wants to cap the number of
active bloggers on the site at 12 and that there will be
some regular turnover as students graduate and move on to
Like most blogs, each entry has a "comment" link,
allowing for an active dialogue between the author and the
Hopkins Interactive also features Hopkins Insider, a
blog written jointly by the admissions staff that provides
a behind-the-scenes look at the application review process.
In addition, the site offers a link to the Johns Hopkins
University Message Board, where people can post comments on
a myriad amount of Hopkins-related subjects, from student
housing to how to start a club.
Bill Conley, dean of enrollment and academic services
at Homewood, said that the new site is all about
simplifying and humanizing the message to students.
"It isn't rocket science to observe that prospective
college students spend countless hours surfing the Internet
in search of the perfect college. They want to hear student
voices, not the Madison Avenue speak of admissions
officers," he said. "Hopkins Interactive connects [high
schoolers] with real Hopkins students who are honestly
talking about life at Homewood. The site conveys a feeling
of positive energy and community at Hopkins."
At the School of Nursing, the communications and
admissions offices teamed up to create a blog site that
shows the diversity of the student body and the academic
program. The nine-member blog group includes undergraduate
and graduate students, men and women, a past Navy Hospital
Corpsman, a new father, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer,
the president of the Student Government Association, the
president of the school's chapter of the National Student
Nurses' Association and the vice president of the Black
Student Nurses Association.
SoN administrators said they wanted more of a student
presence on the school's Web site and felt that blogs would
fill that need.
"Reading the blog of an actual student at the School
of Nursing can give a prospective student information that
no admissions officer can convey," says Mary O'Rourke,
director of admissions and student services. "Today, more
and more prospective and recently accepted students are
relying on blogs to learn about the academic challenges of
nursing school, extracurricular activities, volunteer or
work experiences and what everyday life is like for a
Hopkins nursing student."
The Nursing blog pages also feature RSS (Really Simple
Syndication) technology, which allows users to subscribe to
the site and be notified when the student bloggers update
Says O'Rourke, "Through a blog, outsiders can learn
what it's really like to be on the inside of a Johns
Hopkins nursing education. I hope that they read it,
identify with the student and say, 'Yes, I can do this
To read the School of Nursing student blogs, visit
For the Homewood site, go to
Kelly Brooks-Staub contributed to this article.