The Root of the Problem

Johns Hopkins offers 50 majors across the schools of Arts & Sciences and Engineering. On this application, 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.)


We tickle the roots, gently roll the stump into the pre-dug hole, and begin filling empty spaces with moist, rich soil. We work in silence. As the last layer of mulch is added to the donut ring around our scrawny oak tree, I wipe the sweat from my forehead and say, “a job well done.” Turning to Chris, I see a playful grin spread across his face. “You know, algae releases way more oxygen into the atmosphere than trees,” he taunts. Annoyed, I argue that fertilizing the ocean with algae is inefficient, increasing the pH levels in the water and disrupting the ecosystem. He laughs and taps my shoulder, “I know, I know. I just like teasing you. I don’t believe in global warming anyways, you know that.”

I do know. Along with the third of Americans who don’t think people have anything to do with global warming, and the fifth that completely deny the problem, Chris has no convictions behind the necessity of planting trees. He’s here because I’m here. I think he needs a more long-lasting motivation to reduce his carbon footprint. I struggle to summon up some stats on climate change to somehow persuade him, but my arguments are emotional and unconnected. How did that packet we received in Environmental Science class last time so logically...

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