On Her Way to Johns Hopkins
On Her Way to Johns Hopkins
Jocelyne L. (St. Petersburg High School)
Hello, I’m Jocelyne. I would like to tell you about my older sister, Joanne. My sister, a senior in the IB Program at St. Petersburg High School in St. Petersburg, Florida, has been offered admission, together with a full scholarship, to Johns Hopkins University. Johns Hopkins is one of the most selective schools in the US and is ranked #9 on the US News and World Reports National University Rankings (tied with Northwestern). Not only is Johns Hopkins her top choice school (where she will major in biology), but the scholarship is a huge blessing for our family. The only things not covered by her scholarship are indirect costs, such as travel expenses and personal expenses.
My sister became involved in the cohort in her sophomore year after hearing me go on and on about how wonderful the program was. At the time, I was in the 7th grade and had just completed the Pinellas County Schools College Planning Boot Camp for Middle School Students. As a seventh grader, I could not join a cohort, but she could—and she did!
In interviewing her for this article, she noted,
Through my participation in the cohort, I learned so many things that I would not have learned anywhere else such as the differences between liberal arts colleges and research universities, where I should apply Early Decision versus Regular Decision, and the financial aid policies of all of my top choice colleges. Knowing that Emory, Rice, Stanford, Duke, UPenn, and the University of Chicago would have all offered comparable institutional scholarships, there was no need to apply regular decision to ‘see if I could get in’ when I had a clear top choice—Johns Hopkins. So after being offered admission, via Early Decision to Johns Hopkins, I withdrew all of my other applications.
My sister also mentioned that the information regarding financial aid, The Net Price Calculator, and how different colleges had different financial aid policies, provided clear guidance as to the colleges with the best financial aid policies for students from lower income families. As she researched and learned, she was able to create a plan personalized for her that helped with the next steps when applying for the college of her choice. Not only did the information provided through the online curriculum greatly expand her understanding of the college admission and financial aid processes, but she received amazing support from fellow cohort members, advisors, mentors, and alumni. Some of the college interns—Sydney Soskin (University of Chicago), Peyton Wilson (George Washington), and Loren Tsang (Williams College—to name a few, supported her in the process as they helped her understand the college admissions process and figure out if the college of her choice was a good balance between her aspirations and the educational opportunities offered. With their advice and answers to her questions, my sister was able to discover that Johns Hopkins was truly the college meant for her. However, prior to arriving at this realization, she had to figure out what type of college she wanted to pursue. The cohort provided insight into the nuances between liberal arts colleges and research universities, and which type of school provided the best fit to her body of work and benefited her the most with their opportunities. When she opened the email, “Congratulations, we are pleased to offer you admission to the Johns Hopkins University Class of 2026”my sister’s friends and our family were delighted to hear the great news. Although, we were not surprised, we were incredibly proud and amazed with the scholarship of $280,000 over four years!
I asked my sister what she would say to Mr. and Mrs. Wynn, the creators of the College Planning Cohort Program, and to Dr. Lewis Brinson, the Pinellas County Schools Minority Achievement Officer who brought the program to our school district:
Thank you so very much, your help has been a huge part of my college planning process and I would not have made it this far without you. Not only did you help me apply to college, but you helped me grow as a person!
As a current 9th grader, I am looking forward to sharing my own college-bound story in 2024. However, as the president of the youth leadership board, I am looking forward to submitting articles about our many cohort students and their accomplishments. Like my older sister, I am not only grateful to be participating in a program that is guiding us along pathways to full college scholarships, but supporting and encouraging us to grow into leaders who seek to have a community impact.