3 Things I Wish I Knew Going into Freshman Year

It is hard to believe that I, Tucker Marty, was once an 18 year old freshman who knew not a soul at Hope College. What’s even crazier is that, now a junior, I am over halfway done with my time here. Wow. Thinking back on my first two years here I feel all types of emotions. I have learned a lot. I have felt loved. I have felt at home.

Somehow, I think I am starting to figure the whole college thing out. Well, that’s probably not true because Junior year is kicking my butt right now. But, I’m making progress. And I’ve learned a few things along the way. Had I known what I now know, going into freshman year would’ve been a whole lot smoother of a transition. So, I figured I’d share a few of these things with you all.


Yup, you bet I procrastinated as a freshman. Well, what the heck. I still procrastinate as a junior! BUT, I have learned a major key in how to conquer it (yes, I am still working at this)! Here it is: Be ok with moving on. Do not let the thing you are stuck on, keep you in the rut! I cannot tell you the amount of times I have been writing a paper, and I just stare at my cursor at the top of the page for what feels like forever, trying to come up with some clever way to start. Now, I know to move on. I tell myself to start some other place. Being ok with moving on doesn’t just have to apply to papers and homework though. I think too often we can so easily get caught up in little decisions that we make feel HUGE, and we become frozen because we don’t know what to do. I have learned here at Hope that it is simply best to choose a direction, and keep moving. It will reduce your blood pressure.

Time is Valuable

There are two typical responses for a Hope student to the question, “How’ve you been?” The first, is “Good,” and the second is, “Busy.” Hope students are always busy. Not that being busy is bad, I actually enjoy being busy. But an important lesson to learn is that you need to fill your time with things that are important to you. Otherwise, you will get overwhelmed quickly. Coming to Hope, you will be encouraged to get involved in this, get involved in that! “You’re not living the life of a Hope student if your day is not jam packed.” This statement is false. Besides learning to fill my time with what is important to me, I have gotten a whole lot better at saying no. Saying no is good! When you say no to one club, one extracurricular, one opportunity to lead this Bible study, you are gaining time to actually do what is important to you. Time is valuable, people! Learn what is important. Say no.

Having Fun is a MUST!

“College will be the best four years of your life.” This won’t be true, unless you decide to make it true! While learning new things, studying, and looking towards your “someday” is great and all, I’ve learned that sometimes you need to start focusing a little more on your “today.” Hope College is so great because it is a place where we have been given the resources, the support, and the incredible opportunity to dream about our “someday.” But it can be easy to start doing a whole lotta dreamin, and a just a little livin. Live for the now. Ride your bike to the pier with a friend. Make it a tradition to get Applebee’s “half off apps” every other weekend at midnight. Start a spikeball tournament in the Pine Grove. Polar bear plunge into Lake Michigan in November. Start a prank war with the guys(or girls) living across from you. Take a random road trip up north. Get the “pirate’s booty” from Captain Sunday. Stay up all night with your friends because you can! Make Hope College the best four years of your life, and I promise you it will. We’ve got a whole lotta tomorrow to worry about. Today, live for the now.

FAFSA: Five things to know

What is the FAFSA and why is it so important?

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It is the primary application for receiving need-based aid at American colleges and universities. If you need help paying for college, submitting your FAFSA is the first step in applying for financial aid from most colleges and universities in the United States.

When do I submit my FAFSA?

The FAFSA is available annually beginning on October 1. It is to your advantage to complete the application early in order for colleges and universities to have the information they need to offer you an aid package sooner upon admission. Hope’s priority deadline is March 1 each year.

What information do I need for the FAFSA?

First, apply for a federal student aid ID number from the federal government. This is your username and password for federal student aid websites such as FAFSA.gov and studentloans.gov.

Second, gather your and your parents’ previous year’s tax information, social security numbers and your driver’s license. The FAFSA will ask for data from each of these sources.

Next, be sure to add Hope College’s school code to your FAFSA. Our code is 002273.

Students applying to Hope will also need to complete Hope’s Supplemental Application for Student Aid (SAF) in addition to the FAFSA.

Where can I get help with my FAFSA?

There are many resources available to answer your questions and assist you with completing your FAFSA, including your high school guidance counselor, your Hope College Admissions representative and the Hope College Office of Financial Aid Office. FAFSA.gov also offers a free web chat tool.

What happens after I submit my FAFSA?

Processing your FAFSA takes time. Once the federal government has reviewed your information, they will send your data to the colleges and universities you requested. Those schools will then use your FAFSA data to prepare your financial aid package. In some cases, you may be required to submit additional documentation to verify the data on your FAFSA. This verification process is required by the U.S. Department of Education.

Financial aid notifications are typically sent to students in early February. More information about how financial aid is calculated is available on our Financial Aid website.

What else do I need to know?

Completing the FAFSA is free and quick, and you only have to do it once a year, so don’t be intimated! Feel free to contact the Hope College Office of Financial Aid with your questions. Their website is also a great resource for additional information about the FAFSA process.


“And the winner of the 2017 Nykerk Cup Competition is…”

Those words will inevitably ring through DeVos Field House in just three short weeks, the night of October 28th to be exact. But, the words that will follow this red-underlined-incomplete-sentence are yet to be fought, rehearsed, sang, played, spoke, and deliberated over. The ultimate question remains: WHO WILL REIGN NYKERK CUP CHAMP? Even? Or Odd? And perhaps the even more interesting question: Where do your alliances lie?

Nykerk is a cutthroat (okay, not really, more like very loving and cuddly #NykerkLove) tradition at Hope College in which the freshman, coached by the juniors, and the sophomores, coached by the seniors, clash to create the most epic battleground ever laid for all things song, play, and oration. Let’s break it down and introduce our Nykerk warriors. *cue the drumroll*

The Orator: One oration wizard is chosen from each side to craft a heart-piercing verbal and physical articulation of the theme. Given a different prompt every year, the wisdom spewed from our orators are guaranteed to leave you a tingling combination of elated and teary-eyed.

The Play: 15 Odd Year and 10 Even Year play girls are destined to take the stage in original and hilarious plays riddled with Hope jokes, crazy makeup, intricate traditions, and outrageous plots. This is unlike any other play you’ve seen (no, but really…think crazy and then even crazier). Play will leave you in shock, awe, admiration, albeit slightly confused, but wanting to see it all over again.

The Song: Our song girls come with strong belting voices and in masses. Dazzling harmonies are met with captivating hand motions and prop use. Their impeccable timing pulls you into a never-before-experienced world of popular music and old classics. Get ready to incessantly and uncontrollably dance in your seat.

The Morale: Our ever-vital morale men are the stoke to the Nykerk flame. They cheer our girls on with daily skits and constant hilarity. On the night of Nykerk you will see them running around gladly bearing their servant’s heart, empowering all things ‘Kerk to ensue. (We love you, moral boys, oh yes we do)

As Even and Odd bring their best, the judges and the audience have the impossible task of choosing a winner year after year. So, where do your alliances lie? As a former Odd Year playgirl, I’m sure you can only imagine my preferences. My freshman year, I played the part of Puller (pictured below) a tribute to Nykerk’s counterpart – the Pull. And then my sophomore year, I played Train a clunky but loveable take on the trains that make Hope students constantly late to class. I have truly made some of my best friends during Play, in fact, 5 of us are living together our Senior Year! Yes, we are anticipating to never sleep #PlaySoHard

Alas, I am not here to sway you. Rather, choose for yourself and go root on your precious Nykerk girls with all the energy and love your heart can muster. October 28th at DeVos Field House, don’t miss it!

The Phelps Scholars Program

By Monica Teuthorn, Hope College Sophomore

Before I started my freshman year, college seemed like a foreign place. I didn’t have a ton of experience with it as I was one of the first in my family to really go away to a college like Hope. I had no idea what to expect. College seemed intimidating thinking about academics, research, internships, and more. I was moving to a new state to live with people I didn’t know, compounded the anxiety I already had about the academics and starting over, but thankfully I found the Phelps Scholars Program.

The Phelps Scholars Program is a living-learning community for incoming freshman. Now, I know what you’re asking yourself, and no it is not a scholarship nor is it an honors program. It is for anyone! The program focuses on diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness. Everyone in the program takes the same First Year Seminar course and everyone does some volunteering for the first semester. One of the coolest parts is that you get to go to fun trips on some weekends for free with the group. Each trip also comes with a different ethnic cuisine that is also free! The food is a huge bonus! One of my favorite trips was to a Powwow in Grand Rapids. It was the very first trip we had for the year. We got to go to their social gathering and experience everything from the food to the ceremony to the music. That was one of my favorite trips, because apart from being the first one of the year, it was very interactive. Not only did we get to observe how that tribe practiced, but they also allowed us at times to join the circle in a respectful way. I saw many students experiencing this culture for the first time with all different reactions, but all giving me a greater respect for my own Native American heritage. This trip ignited my passion for learning and experiencing other cultures, but that was just the beginning. There were so many more trips that taught me so much about myself and the world around me. More than just learning and experiencing these different cultures, this program offers a community for freshmen.

Sure the class is interesting, I love volunteering, and the trips are super fun, but honestly the best part of the program is the community it builds and the people in it. Think about it. This community tends to create such great bonds because you spend so much time with the people involved. You even live with them!  The best part is that this program intentionally brings different people together. Everyone comes from different places or backgrounds. This tends to happen in college anyway, but this program is intentional about it. Of course, with these differences comes some conflict or disagreements, but this program teaches you to disagree in a respectful way and learn out of those conversations. It is good to expose yourself to different people and cultures, because after college, wherever you end up, you will be surrounded by all different kinds of people who you will have to work with. This is preparing you to live and thrive in a global society. The other great thing is that you gain friends from all over the world. This program has given me some of my best friends, and I know these are relationships that will last a lifetime!

Find Your Home

By Rourke Mullins, Hope College Senior

Here it is, you’re 18 years old and the moment in life has come where you are asked to answer one of the most important questions of your life, “Where are you going to college?” It’s a daunting question that for myself, created a pit in my stomach. I didn’t know how to navigate my way through these feelings and the endless amounts of college mail my mom would throw on my desk. I know I am not alone in this feeling. So, the question is, how do we answer this question that carries more weight than most of us have ever dealt with?

For myself, I swung and missed at my first try. I had decided to attend a university for all of the wrong reasons. I choose it because, in reality, it was a cop out. It was a choice that had the lowest amount of risk and a choice that revolved around things that did not matter. I quickly realized this and had to force myself back to square one and ask, “Where am I going to college?” This time, the once impossible and scary question now seemed so clear. I am going to go home. Not back where I grew up home but a place where I feel at home. This moment is when it all changed for me.

I made a list of all the reasons of why I loved home and some of them were comfort, peace, and the feeling of being wanted. I took on my new college search with clear eyes and a heart that was looking for this new home that I was so hungry for. By the grace of God, I was led to this small Liberal Arts College on the West side of Michigan called Hope College. A place where you walk down the street and are able to say hi to your friends or complete strangers, a place where you can get incredible coffee and have conversations that will change your life forever, a place that hold’s you close during dark times and celebrates your good times. It’s a place that I now call home. A place where I feel comfort, peace, and the feeling of being wanted.

Here I am 3 years later looking  back on my experience and what a journey it has been. So if you are in the place that I was in, scared by the thought of where you will attend college, I encourage you to change your perspective. Allow yourself to look at colleges not as where you will be leaving your home to go to, but look at colleges as were your next home will be. For myself, I have found a home in Hope forever.

Are you asking these 6 questions on your college tours?

By Kristin Diekevers ’07, Associate Director of Admissions

Ahhhh, the changing of the seasons. We are about two weeks shy of the official start of fall (it’s September 22 if you were wondering), and colleges are back in session. That means many of you are doing yourself the awesome favor of scheduling college visits — seriously, there is nothing you can do to get to know a college better than by visiting.

Colleges are ready with their welcome mats and most tour guides are ready for the typical questions (and if they aren’t, be skeptical). How many students go here? What’s the average class size? Are freshmen allowed to have cars? How are roommates determined? What do students do on the weekends?

Four students walking on sidewalk under trees.

But you want to be a savvy consumer, right? Dig a little deeper into the college experience and consider asking these 6 questions on every college tour.

  1. What aren’t you showing me? There might be good reasons for limiting what you see — time length of tour, spaces reserved for faculty/staff, building hours, etc. However, it’s worth asking because you might also uncover areas of deferred maintenance or areas of concern for the college. In either case, you might consider circling back to these areas by yourself before you leave the campus.
  2. Take time to smell the flowers. Yes, this is a statement, not a question, but it’s important. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times. How are students interacting with one another? With faculty or staff? With you? What is on the bulletin boards and what signs are hanging up on campus? Are there literally flowers you can smell (hey, there is something to be said for well-kept grounds)?
  3. What faculty or staff member helped you the most your freshman year? How so? People matter. Connections matter. Connected people are generally happier and more successful both in college and in the long-term. Asking this question will help you learn if students make an early and lasting connection with an employee of the college.
  4. How is conflict recognized and addressed on campus? Given our current political climate, I think this is a fair question. College is an important time for young people to further develop conflict resolution skills. We hope they have good examples of people doing this on their college campus at all levels. Is there dialogue or dogmatism? Are there forums or fear?
  5. What was your favorite lecture, arts performance, guest speaker or chapel message this past year? “Bueller?…Bueller?…Bueller?” (If you have not watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, please do so the minute you are done reading this blog. You’re welcome.) Lots of students can listen and comprehend, but are they being inspired? A lasting impression made by a lecture fuels a student’s learning, development and success as a human being.
  6. What would you miss the most if you graduated tomorrow? Why? Make sure you add: “You can’t just say your friends.” This all goes back to how connected to their eventual alma mater they feel. Do they swell with pride in talking about their school and show enthusiasm? Do you get those feels when they share their experience? It’s a good signal you’re making a connection too.

I’ve said to ask these questions on every college tour, but really, these questions could be repeated over and over to any person — faculty, student, staff, administrator, coach — you meet on campus. Your tour guide will have one experience, but if you’re really interested in the college, talk to everyone you meet!

Ready to ask these questions within the Hope community? We’re ready to welcome you!

STEM + Fun = ExploreHope

Throughout the weeks of June and July, the halls of Schaap Science Center bubbled with activity as hundreds of children excitedly chattered about newfound lessons as they clutched goodie bags full of goofy but cool science projects. This summer marked the 20th year of Hope College’s annual ExploreHope camps, hands-on workshops meant to stimulate love and learning  for youngsters in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and while ExploreHope promises kids a great time, it also provides an outstanding experience for Hope students who use their knowledge and leadership as ExploreHope staffers. With this unique opportunity, Hope students get to flex their creative and scientific muscles and share their enthusiasm for all-things STEM.

With this unique opportunity, Hope students get to flex their creative and scientific muscles and share their enthusiasm for all-things STEM.

In July, I talked to Hope junior Elizabeth Woodford who served on the ExploreHope staff this summer. Elizabeth is pursuing a bachelor of science degree in chemistry with a biochemistry emphasis, with minors in English and neuroscience as well so she’s quite qualified to teach a variety of different subjects. Plus, she loves getting kids, especially high schoolers, passionate about the sciences.

“I hope the kids have as much fun in the labs as I do,” said Elizabeth. “Sometimes I think I may be more excited to get to do some of these experiments and demos than my kids actually are.”

“Also, getting to write experimental design with my coworker Mimi Stalls was a lot of fun, too,” Elizabeth added. 

Any given day at ExploreHope is bustling with hands-on learning. The 50+ camps typically run in three-hour time blocks in either the morning or afternoon, with a few all-day camps thrown into the mix. The teachers, or counselors, lead the kids through entertaining and engaging activities. Those activities are designed to explain a particular field of science as well as to get kids — elementary to high school — excited about that field. New camps are created each year, too  —  Tinker(bell) Engineering and Experimental Design being the newest addition in 2017 — meaning there is something STEM for every camper.

While younger kids focused on science basics, high school camps are more oriented toward preparing the participants for college-level science classes, specifically labs. They conduct actual experiments and, in the end, walk away with experience and knowledge under their belts, making them better prepared for their freshman science classes when they reach college.

The children watch their Hope teacher blow on a wok containing the nitrogen, then “ooh” and “ahh” as they see the teacher’s breath create a cloud of ice crystals.

So, what’s the crowd favorite at the camps? According to Elizabeth, it’s the liquid nitrogen and dry ice demo. In this experiment, the teacher shows the campers how sublimation works through dry ice, along with the freezing ability of liquid nitrogen. The children watch the teacher blow on a wok containing the nitrogen, then “ooh” and “ahh” as they see the teacher’s breath create a cloud of ice crystals. The children are also stunned when their Hope teacher freezes a banana using liquid nitrogen and then hammers a nail into a piece a wood with the frozen fruit. (That would stun me too!)

Other popular activities at ExploreHope include field trips to the veterinarian, creating slimes and polymers, building lego robots, and performing flame tests on powders. When the week draws to a close, campers leave with a packet that reviews everything they did that week — including directions to redo some of the experiments at home (except the one with flames involved!).

Overall, ExploreHope is a formative opportunity for any kid — elementary to college —  to play with slime, “blow” things up,  or even design their own labs. In general, learning and loving science is what ExploreHope is all about.

Read more about ExploreHope camps on the Hope website and in The Holland Sentinel story.