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So You’re Gonna Be a Doctor, Right?

There’s a lot more to Hopkins than future doctors taking organic chemistry and crying themselves to sleep over MCAT prep

Photo: Ana Benaroya, License: N/A

Ana Benaroya

You sit down to a family dinner with aunts, your grandmother, three second cousins once removed, a floating niece, maybe a family dog. You’ve got great news: You’ve been accepted to Johns Hopkins University, a school that people who don’t live in the mid-Atlantic region know about, a school foreigners desperately want to get into. It’s ranked 13th in the world by the most recent U.S. News and World Report, for God’s sake; it’s definitely time to celebrate.

Your whole family remembers hearing Hopkins’ name in that Prince and Me movie with Julia Stiles, where she wanted to be a doctor instead of just marrying a prince and being rich and stuff. I guess that’s kind of what Hopkins is about, the whole getting educated and doing things instead of marrying a rich dude thing (though, who knows, there are a lot of future engineers/doctors around). But Julia Stiles and the rest of the world consistently reinforce what everyone seems to automatically assume about Johns Hopkins: that you go there to be a doctor, and that’s it. And then they ask the question. “I didn’t know you were interested in medicine. When did you decide to become a doctor?”

Sorry, seventh cousin three times removed, but I have never and will never want to be a doctor. Considering that you’re reading this article, you may have already guessed that I want to be a writer. The people who asked me those kinds of questions were already stirring with follow-ups at this point: Isn’t Johns Hopkins only there for research and science? Isn’t that just a med school? How can you get a degree in writing? What the hell is a writing seminar? How are you planning on making money? And to them I say, though I don’t have all the answers (especially to that money one): There’s a lot more to Hopkins than future doctors taking organic chemistry and crying themselves to sleep over MCAT prep.

The life of the humanities major starts with self-defense. You’ll have to constantly remind people that, yes, Hopkins does offer other things other than biomedical engineering, and yes, they are also actually kinda famous. Our French program is one of three in the whole United States that’s recognized by the French government. The School of Education is ranked number two nationally by the U.S. News and World Report. The Writing Seminars department (not to brag) is ranked one of the top schools for undergraduates studying creative writing. Hell, StudentAdvisor even named us the No. 2 Social Media College. See, we’re not just all holed up in labs and libraries. We’re doing other things too.

And another assumption is that life as a premed/science/engineer person is automatically way harder, more cutthroat, and generally more intense than any humanities major’s. And to that I say, people have different struggles and skills. I know many a science major or engineer who’s come to me asking for editing help because they’re “terrible at writing.” Writing and reading upwards of a couple thousand pages a week while still managing extracurricular activities, distribution requirements, and securing the coveted internships necessary for our forward mobility (such as this one at Baltimore’s Most Educational Alternative Weekly) isn’t exactly just a lazy college experience.

Somebody wrote the script to that Julia Stiles flick, after all. So don’t ask me why I’m not a doctor—it’s because I’ll be too busy writing about them, or whatever else there is to write about.


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