The reasons why I chose to attend Johns Hopkins University are just about endless. From unique research opportunities to hundreds of student organizations and clubs on campus to our prime location just minutes from the thriving city of Baltimore, Hopkins truly combines the best features of college life into one package. And it’s that perfect combination that drew me to the university in the first place. But one aspect that I love most about Hopkins lies at the very heart of what our university is built on: academic freedom.
Many universities build their academic programs on what is known as a “core curriculum,” where students are required to take certain classes – many of which are outside of their major. But Hopkins has no such thing. What we have instead is a totally flexible, open curriculum. It is a highly unique approach where undergraduates are free to take courses that actually interest them and are hence not constrained by any “core classes.” We are totally free to choose.
This academic freedom has allowed me to explore new areas of study and discover new passions that I had never known existed. I am an Economics major, with minors in Entrepreneurship and Management as well as Financial Economics. And as you can imagine, I take many courses that are economics- and business-related. While I do have requirements for my major and minors, those requirements have great flexibility and I am free to choose among many different courses offered. Outside of my major and minors, the possibilities are just about endless. There is no one at Hopkins telling me “you have to take 3 sciences courses in order to graduate” or “you need to take a certain number of intro-level courses.” We don’t have “classes that everyone in the school has to take.” So, a Biochemistry major doesn’t have to sit through an English course just as an English major doesn’t have to take Biology 101. We don’t have these limitations. We are free to take classes of our own choosing!
This freedom that Hopkins fosters has literally given me the ability to map my own path. I don’t feel so pressured to complete requirements to graduate. Instead, academics become something I can actually elect into rather than have pre-selected for me. When choosing courses (one of my favorite things to do, come mid-semester), I am totally free to check out an Italian Renaissance art history course or a course on Contemporary International Politics. And I don’t have to be an art history major or political science major to take them!
Only a sophomore, I have a full road ahead of me. But I continue to pave that road everyday, on my own, without any limitations. Hopkins gave me the reins to control my own ride on day one, and said GO. And it’s that empowerment that I love most.
Marissa Licursi is a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University.