The Ivy Coach Daily

August 7, 2023

2023-2024 Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essay Prompt

A view of Johns Hopkins University from a walking path.
Johns Hopkins University has issued a bold response to America’s Supreme Court with its supplemental essay prompt (photo credit: Iracaz).

Johns Hopkins University has released its supplemental essay prompt for the 2023-2024 college admissions cycle. Johns Hopkins, which in recent years, has asked applicants to answer only one supplemental essay, is again requiring applicants to answer only one essay prompt — a 300-worder. But it’s not the length of Johns Hopkins’ essay prompt for applicants to the JHU Class of 2028 that’s interesting. Instead, it’s the topic.

2023-2024 Johns Hopkins Essay Topic

Below is Johns Hopkins’ essay prompt for applicants to the JHU Class of 2028:

Tell us about an aspect of your identity (e.g. race, gender, sexuality, religion, community, etc.) or a life experience that has shaped you as an individual 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).

Johns Hopkins’ Supplemental Essay Is a Bold Response to SCOTUS Ruling

You read Johns Hopkins’ 2023-2024 supplemental essay prompt correctly. The school’s admissions committee is directly asking about a student’s race (or gender, sexuality, religion, community, or something else) to understand their perspective and lived experience.

It’s a bold move in response to the Supreme Court’s outlawing of the practice of Affirmative Action in late June 2023. At the time, some surmised that many of our nation’s elite universities would avoid directly asking applicants to comment on their race. But not us. No, we at Ivy Coach have a crystal ball. That crystal ball, once even cited on the pages of America’s oldest college newspaper, forecasted that America’s elite universities would still find ways to indirectly consider race in the admissions process to create diverse classes, capitalizing on the opening provided by Chief Justice John Roberts.

In the majority opinion, Roberts wrote, “At the same time, as all parties agree, nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

Yet not every school put themselves directly in the line of fire by using the word “race” in their supplemental essay prompt(s). Johns Hopkins — a school that proudly previously banned the un-meritocratic practice of legacy admission, or the tradition of offering preferential treatment to the progeny of a school’s alumni base — dared to do so. Agree or disagree with Affirmative Action, Johns Hopkins’ bold response to the ruling is noteworthy.

Johns Hopkins Even Changed Its Essay Prompt, Leaning into Race

And it’s not as though Johns Hopkins simply cut and pasted their essay prompt from last year. Last year’s essay prompt did not explicitly mention race. It read as follows:

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.

How to Approach Answering Johns Hopkins’ Supplemental Essay

One doesn’t need to be an underrepresented minority to be able to answer this essay prompt. It’s why Johns Hopkins specifically cited any community that an applicant may deem themselves a part of or even, more broadly, a life experience that has molded their outlook on the world.

While race is explicitly mentioned in the wording of the essay prompt, applicants really have a blank canvas for this essay question. As such, they can direct their answer just about any way they wish — though it should ultimately address the second half of the hybrid question of how that perspective, community, or life experience has shaped what they hope to study at Johns Hopkins.

It’s thus essential to include a few specifics that only apply to Johns Hopkins (and, no, name-dropping professors or listing classes do not count as genuine specifics about an institution). After all, JHU admissions officers want to understand how that perspective will influence what you bring to their vibrant campus.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance with Johns Hopkins Essay Prompt

If you’re interested in optimizing your case for admission to Johns Hopkins and wowing admissions officers with compelling storytelling, fill out Ivy Coach’s consultation form, and we’ll be in touch to outline our college counseling services for seniors.

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