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Johns Hopkins: Why an undecided major? essay


insomnia 2 / 4  
Dec 24, 2009   #1
The essay prompt is as such: (freshman applicants only): Johns Hopkins offers 50 majors across the schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. On this supplement, we ask you to identify one or two that you might like to pursue here. Why did you choose the way you did? If you are undecided, why didn't you choose? (If any past courses or academic experiences influenced your decision, you may include them in your essay.)

Savagely rip apart my essay. I'm open to as harsh criticism as you can give me. Thanks!

By writing this, I am stealing-stealing from countless languages, that is. After all, English is hardly what anyone could call an original language, having pilfered the majority of its words from other cultures and languages to create a mangled conglomeration of sounds and meanings. Souvenir? French. House? German. Algebra? Arabic. Misanthropy? Greek. None of these words we can call our own, and I love it that way.

Language has always been fascinating to me. Even as a child, I pondered English's structure and vocabulary, biding my time weighing questions like why we say "slept" instead of "sleep" when normally the past tense calls for "-ed." Learning vocabulary, usually a dreary task for most schoolchildren, was fun for me-I took joy out of breaking down newly acquired words into smaller words to ascertain the original meaning. A word like "awful," for instance, took on a whole new meaning when I considered it as full of awe rather than horrible. My pursuit of Latin only intensified this frenzied study of language as I discovered even more words could be broken down. The drastically different subject-object-verb structure of Latin prompted me to question English even more; why do we not formulate our sentences in the same way? What makes English English? Why is the capability for language so universal, but our languages so diverse?

Some might wonder, then, why I would express interest in a university known for science, rather than linguistic, pursuits like Johns Hopkins. Or, better yet, why I declare my major undecided rather than Romance Languages or Classics. For me, the study of language doesn't just stop at understanding the etymology of a word or the structure of a sentence. Language is science. In order to understand language, it is necessary to understand why language even exists. After all, every other organism gets along just fine without it. Why us? When did we acquire it? How? Why can't some people learn to speak? Why don't we all speak the same language? I cannot answer this with a mere knowledge of different languages. An understanding of biology, genetics, psychology and others are all tantamount to exploring these questions. I want the opportunity to feel out what sort of curriculum will best help me obtain this knowledge and prepare me for graduate school, and I know that Johns Hopkins can help me obtain this goal with its wide science curricula. Choosing a major now would be like assuming I was preparing to close my doors.

paradoxymoron 3 / 9  
Dec 24, 2009   #2
This is a well-written essay. I love the introduction.. with the different words coming from different places. Your voice is very strong, which is :)

Maybe you should try to elaborate more on why you didn't really choose a major (actually, when I was first reading it, I thought that you wanted to major in genetics or biology, because that's what you seemed to be leaning towards).

The last sentence seems a little.. hang-offish, if that makes sense. It doesn't provide much of a sense of closure, but I like the sentence (just not as the last one).

Good luck with everything, and I hope this helped a little.
FarhanWasim 2 / 8  
Dec 29, 2009   #3
Very good essay. Nice use of vocabulary and variation in sentence structures. A good one.


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