“Writing Seminars”: a phrase I first stumbled upon at 17-years-old, bleary-eyed from tireless admissions research and unfulfilling, stilted Common App essay-drafting. I was tired of feeling detached from the process of determining my future. Having a passion that society (and therefore, my easily-influenced self) deemed a “hobby” was never easy for me, and it caused me to question not only my future plans, but also myself. I wanted to step out of myself, to want to be someone I was not. I wanted to want to be a doctor, to want to learn the intricacies of physics, to want to become a politician who would alter the course of our nation.

Despite my cluttered second-order desires, these artificial hopes never surfaced. I could not help but feel drawn to my “silly hobby” of writing. So at 17-years-old, bleary-eyed and tired of wanting to want things I didn’t want, I decided to bring the mystical pipe dream of pursuing a writing major into reality (through Google, of course, where all pipe dreams are reconciled). When “Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University” announced itself on my screen, my shallow desires began to disintegrate. “Writing Seminars” sounded like a response to my anxieties, a legitimate title for my self-proclaimed “guilty pleasure” of creative writing.

Little did I know, these two words (or, more frequently, 1.5 — “seminars” is a lot of syllables) would not only become my course of studies, but also a major part of my identity.

“Writing Sems Major” – noun. Person who majors in Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, and likely experiences some of the following side effects:

  1. Community. Every time I meet another Writing Sems, I feel some sort of inherent connection that I cannot quite explain. There are only about 40 Writing Sems majors in my grade, and all writing-seminars-specific courses are generally very small (as in less than 15 students) so it really does feel like a smaller community within the community of Hopkins. Last semester, my Introduction to Fiction and Poetry 2 course was exactly 5 people. Needless to say, we got to know each other (and our writing styles) very well.
  2. Life Skills. I like to explain this major as a “general liberal arts” major with a focus on creative writing. This is because the major requirements not only consist of creative writing courses, but actually range from history, to philosophy, to foreign language. I’m not only gaining vital writing skills, but I’m also learning how to be a better reader, how to analyze literature, and how to write philosophical essays. These skills will undoubtedly prove useful in my later life. I will be able to communicate ideas in a variety of ways to a variety of audiences from different disciplines, and I will know how to extract the most important details from lengthy readings. I may even become fluent in another language, which will definitely spice up my future “two truths and a lie!”
  3. Diverse Schedule. Echoing the sentiments of the previous point, Writing Sems is an all-encompassing humanities major. The requirements have forced me to get out of my comfort zone and take classes like History of Modern Germany and Philosophical Problems. These courses require that I adopt different perspectives, which is something I really value. I’m so grateful that this major has led me to courses I never would have taken otherwise.
  4. Creative Challenges. Creating psychologically-realistic characters with genuine quirks and intriguing backgrounds is definitely not a task that I anticipated being a part of my college career. Yet, tasks like these are part of my daily homework. I am not only challenged to think differently by taking a variety of courses, but I am also challenged to think creatively. Being “creative” was probably the best attribute you could possibly have in kindergarten. Over the years, though, creativity was inhibited by strict curriculums, encouraging concrete solutions to concrete problems, with little flexibility. Being able to reignite that creative spark in college, now with a wealth of knowledge to dip into, is one of the most rewarding aspects of my studies.
  5. Conversation Starter. When someone who doesn’t attend Hopkins asks what my major is, I always respond with an aggressively lengthy monologue to define it (and probably define my future, while I’m at it). A unique major like Writing Sems can’t not spark conversation, and people are generally really fascinated that it exists. Sometimes I feel like I’m some sort of Writing Sems missionary, so maybe I am changing the world after all?