Does anything else provide such instant access to college life like the college blog? Plenty of colleges and universities are seeing the potential (remember our 101 College Blogs to Put You in the College Mood article?) but My College Guide is pretty sure that no has yet handled it quite like Johns Hopkins University. We got connected to Daniel Creasy, Associate Director, at Johns Hopkins University to get the whole story!
How did this large scale blog community begin?
I began working for the Hopkins Undergraduate Admissions Office in August 2003, and from the onset Hopkins Interactive was a pet project of mine. My Dean allowed me a lot of leeway in creating the site and recruiting the students. After a year of research, I spent much of the second year recruiting the first bloggers and working collaboratively with them to design the site. Finally in December 2005 we launched Hopkins Interactive and have been expanding the endeavor every since.
How do Johns Hopkins U students get involved?
Members of the Student Admissions Advisory Board (SAAB), the students behind Hopkins Interactive, are selected from a pool of applicants at the start of every academic year. The application is made available late in the summer and is advertised mainly to newly enrolling freshmen, as the upperclassmen on the board are typically returning members. We interview each applicant during the week of new student orientation and make our decisions by the beginning of classes. Traditionally, we select 6-8 new members each year, and the overall group size ranges from 20-23 students.
How do you choose your student bloggers? What do you look for?
In the selection process we try to make a balanced group, so we look for diversity of background and talents, creativity in their writing abilities (sample blogs are part of the application), personality, and dedication to the promotion of Hopkins. Since the board does more than just blog, creativity, personality, and an innovative mindset are factors more than just how one writes. Last year we had about 50 applications.
What can a prospective student take away from these blogs that they couldn’t get otherwise?
Before launching Hopkins Interactive, I had a number of conversations with my colleagues and current students about what our goals should be in providing blogs and more significantly providing prospective students direct, uncensored access to current students. There are a lot of misconceptions about Johns Hopkins as an undergraduate institution and some that truly frustrate current students. Presenting “the real Hopkins” through the blogs and other social media endeavors has allowed us to dispel many of those myths and connect a new group of prospective students to the university.
Any particular blogs college bound students should make it a point to look at to get a better feel for Johns Hopkins University?
Expanding from just offering an Admissions blog and a number of current student blogs, to now offering blogs written by alumni, parents, faculty, and staff has really made me proud. I know of very few other University blog programs as extensive as Hopkins. I also am impressed about how we have expanded to so many other social media programs, providing prospective students with a variety of ways to connect with our current students.
Spill it! Do you have a favorite?
In my opinion the great success of Hopkins Interactive has to be our Academics Blog. I know of no other University that has such a site. Pretty simple, the Academic Blog contains student-written entries about every academic major and minor offered at Hopkins. These blogs provide an up-close look at the experiences that real students have had at Johns Hopkins. Within the blogs, one will read about students who have changed or added majors, taken classes completely unrelated to their major, fulfilled multiple majors and minors, and otherwise explored their academic curiosities while at Hopkins.
I also often reference our Guest Blog as one of our other great successes. The mission of the Guest Blog is to feature the story of a different Johns Hopkins undergraduate each week. In over four years we have had nearly 180 entries written by approximately 150 different students.