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Hopkins targets city for scholarships

The Johns Hopkins University plans to offer full tuition scholarships to graduates of Baltimore city public high schools who win university admission, an award worth up to $120,000 or more over four years.

All the students have to do is win acceptance as first-year, full-time undergraduates, and they must have been city residents and enrolled in a city high school for at least three years. The scholarship, the first Hopkins has offered to a specific school system, begins with students entering college in fall 2005.

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"We hope this sends a message that we are committed to Baltimore," said Hopkins Provost Steven Knapp. "We hope it will have some effect on the morale of the school system and tell them that: 'You can go to Baltimore city schools, and you can have access to the best educational institutions in the world.'"

Baltimore school officials greeted news of the "Baltimore Scholars" program, which is to be announced at a news conference this afternoon, with enthusiasm.

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"I think it's a wonderful thing because it can send a message that if you work hard and you meet the expected requirements that there is somebody who'll say, 'I'll help you out,'" school board Chairwoman Patricia L. Welch said. "I think it sends a signal to our kids that the university that is in their doorway, right up the street, is a place they can go."

On average, four Baltimore public school students enroll in each year's Hopkins class. Hopkins officials hope the scholarship will encourage more city students to apply and plan to embark on an aggressive marketing program in Baltimore schools.

Now, Welch said, few college-bound city students consider Hopkins. "It's like they're over there, right across the street, and it's like another world," she said. "Rarely do they say, 'I'm going to Hopkins,' and we need to change that. I think this type of program is a step in the right direction."

It's not just the expense, Welch said. Many city students are intimidated by the prestige of the Johns Hopkins name; they don't know many friends or classmates who attended, so they don't see themselves going to college there.

"It's the mystique," Welch said. "It's the Johns Hopkins; it's not your everyday institution. It's where people are flown from all over the world to come to the medical institution, and scholars come from all over the world to study there. It is internationally known."

Students do not need to show any financial need to be eligible for the scholarship, and Hopkins officials said no limit will be set on the number of full-time Baltimore Scholars. Up to three part-time students will be selected from the university's School of Professional Studies in Business and Education.

Also, students who cannot afford room and board can apply for financial aid through other university sources.

Hopkins officials aren't sure how much the program will cost because tuition has not been set for the 2005-2006 academic year, and they don't know how many students will be admitted. The tuition this fall will be $30,140 a year for arts and sciences and engineering, $27,000 a year for the Peabody Conservatory and $22,224 for nursing.

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The idea for the program came from a commission on undergraduate education that met from January 2002 to May last year. It concluded that Hopkins needed to attract more students from Baltimore.

Matthew A. Crenson, a Hopkins political science professor who graduated from Hopkins and from high school in Baltimore, will lead a team of faculty and administrators who will provide support for the students.

Knapp said the students will add to Hopkins' culture and should help strengthen the area's economy in the future. Noting studies that show college students are likely to stay and work in the area they went to college, Knapp said: "The students are part of the future of Baltimore."

Welch said the city school system produces many students who are capable of succeeding at Hopkins.

Next week, a former school board student member will graduate from Harvard and is headed to graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Welch said.

"I think we have untapped resources and untapped strength among our students," Welch said. "We have to be more aggressive in finding who those students are and providing access to institutions such as Hopkins."


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