Clare Richardson spent a good portion of Intersession, her
first at Johns Hopkins, in the glow
of the big screen. Richardson flew out to Park City, Utah,
January to indulge her cinephile side at
the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
She attended 24 screenings and got to rub shoulders
likes of Ashton Kutcher, Demi
Moore and The Office's John Krasinksi. She even met the
himself, Robert Redford, who
gladly posed for a photo with the freshman Writing Seminars
and Film and
Media Studies major.
Richardson details her adventure in the most recent
blog on Hopkins Interactive, a Web
site that is fast becoming an integral part of the
The Office of
Undergraduate Admissions for the Homewood
schools launched Hopkins
Interactive in December 2005 to offer a view of JHU from
out. The centerpiece of the
site is a collection of blogs in which current Arts and
Engineering students document
their lives here, everything from the classroom experience
weekend scene in Baltimore.
Currently, Hopkins Interactive publishes regularly updated
from 20 full-time students
representing each undergraduate class. The site also
message boards, student profiles and
The guest blog feature was added one month after the
launch to provide a forum for
students to share — on a one-time basis — a
with prospective applicants.
To date, Admissions has published 120 guest blog
which often incorporate photos taken
by the author.
hopkins.typepad.com/guest, routinely gets
500 "hits" a week and has been
increasingly mentioned in applications, admission
surveys as a reason why the high
school senior chose to apply to Johns Hopkins. The blog
popular, in fact, that the Admissions
Office created "The Blue Jay Buffet" page to let faculty,
alumni post entries to represent
more aspects of the Johns Hopkins experience.
Daniel Creasy, associate director of the Office of
Undergraduate Admissions and the
mastermind behind Hopkins Interactive, says that the blogs
immediate and inexpensive way
to market Johns Hopkins to a Web-savvy audience.
Creasy said that Richardson's story is a personal
favorite of his.
"Publishing a story about a freshman Film and Media
student who, in her first five
months here, got to attend the Sundance Film Festival as
part of an
independent study project is
better marketing than anything we can do," Creasy says. "We
bloggers to tell others what
life is like here, and we're constantly on the lookout for
and newsworthy experiences like
Clare's that we can share."
Richardson says that she was only too happy to
Hopkins Interactive. She'd never
written a blog before but recalled how helpful the guest
blog was in
finding out more about Johns
Hopkins when she was applying to schools.
"I thought it was great that the school provided this
You get to see a personal side of
campus life and hear about the unique opportunities open to
undergraduates," Richardson says. "I
really enjoyed reading them."
A new guest blog, which is typically five to 10
length, gets posted each Monday
during the academic year.
In addition to Richardson's story, other recent guest
have recounted stories of students
on archaeological digs in Egypt, volunteering for the Johns
Tutorial Project and participating
in 4K for Cancer, an annual 4,000-mile bicycle trek from
Homewood campus to the Golden Gate
Bridge in San Francisco.
Carolyn Purington, a junior biomedical engineering
used the guest blog to recount her
experience in Ecuador for the Johns Hopkins chapter of
Purington traveled to the South American country this
as part of an effort to design,
fund and construct a children's nursery in the small
Santa Rosa de Ayora. Purington and
other Johns Hopkins students spent their first five days in
Ecuador's capital city, to visit
several children's nurseries in order to observe floor
organizational setup. They also
traveled to Santa Rosa de Ayora itself to survey the site
with community members to
determine their exact needs for the nursery.
In the blog, Purington talks of her journey and
and why she got involved with
Engineers Without Borders during her freshman year.
"I had actually heard about Engineers Without Borders
I decided where I was going to
college," she writes. "And I was excited to realize that
Hopkins had an active chapter. I joined
the Ecuador team because I had an interest in improving my
and experiencing Latin American
culture. Although I am studying biomedical engineering, I
applying the basic engineering
principles, fundamental to any discipline of engineering,
to the project."
Purington, co-leader of the Ecuador team, says that
the blog was both fun and easy.
"I just sat down and reflected on my trip," she says.
thought it was a good way for people,
especially those interested in engineering, to know what
goes on here."
Creasy instructs the guest bloggers to write for an
audience and to keep the tone
simple and personal.
"The form is very open-ended," he says. "They can
good and the bad."
For The Blue Jay Buffet, more than 20 blogs have been
Parents have shared stories
about school searches, parents' weekend, empty nest
watching their child mature.
Alumni have reflected on their undergraduate days and how
experience led them to their current
job or graduate program. One recent alum wrote how Johns
helped land him his dream job at
The guest blog has featured only two faculty members
and Creasy is looking for more
to talk about what they do and why they like to work with
"Not just faculty; we are actively trying to recruit
students, staff and alumni to submit guest
blogs to Hopkins Interactive," he says. "If you have a
share, we'd love to hear from you."
When Hopkins Interactive was launched, only five to 10
universities nationwide hosted such a
page, Creasy says. Today, nearly 150 major universities
have a blog
feature on their admissions site.
"But only a handful have gone as far as we have," he
Anecdotal evidence has told Creasy and others at the
Admissions Office that the blogs have
had a positive impact. In recent surveys of admitted
Hopkins Interactive site ranked
higher than the Office of Admissions home page and the JHU
in helping them choose the
"Several students have mentioned the blogs in their
application essays. I recall one student who
chose to major in neuroscience because of a blog entry," he
"Admitted students have also told us
in person that the blogs made Hopkins feel real to
John Latting, dean of Undergraduate Admissions, says
these blog entries are an important
way to inform prospective students and their parents about
Hopkins. He says they truly reflect
the diversity of talent and ideas on the Homewood
"Hopkins Interactive focuses on our students and their
lives," Latting says. "Johns Hopkins
still has a hard-edged image in the world. People think
all work and no play, all productivity
and no personality. That's not true, and we are using the
help tell the real story."
What's the Admissions Office's next blog ambition? It
plans to launch another blog page
that will feature a student entry representing each
major and minor. Students will be
able to talk about their program and why they chose to
or public health studies.
"That is my next big project," Creasy says. "I've
To see all the blogs and contribute, go to apply.jhu.edu/hi.