The First Step

I vividly remember how nervous I was about college classes as a high school student. I tend to be a perfectionist so I was concerned with not succeeding academically at Hope College when I had made my decision to attend. Thankfully, my high school prepared me extremely well, and the deeper I got into my major the more I became interested in the subject matter, which made papers and studying a lot more enjoyable. 

Hope College Baker Scholars pictured with Hope Alumni Jordan Fuller ’10 and Chris Harrison ’10 to learn about the non-profit sector and best practices when working in sales.

More than Test Scores

Hope is a lot different than big universities when it comes to academics. Because of its size, student’s grade are made up of more than just their test scores. My friends from my hometown who go to larger institutions (especially in the 100 and 200 level courses) would tell me that their grade was based on a couple of exams and maybe one large paper that were often graded by TAs. This is a scary thought considering that some students are simply not good test takers. Most Hope courses are based on exams, papers, assignments (including problem sets/case studies), and participation. I love the participation piece because it gives professors the opportunity to boost a student’s grade because they see that they are truly putting effort into learning. The small assignments given between class periods I also find extremely helpful. It breaks down the content into bite size pieces, making it easier to retain and also holding the student accountable. I know at least for me, I would not be able to get myself to study knowing that the first time I will get a grade for my knowledge would be for an exam two months away. 

Personalized Academics

My favorite aspect of Hope academics, however, is how personalized it is. Yes, at times it can definitely be challenging, but professors are not only available to help, but genuinely love it when students take initiative to come and talk to them. I’ve been able to grow sustainable relationships with professors that have resulted in mentorships as I work to discover my vocation post graduation. The professors at Hope offer to take you out to coffee to genuinely make an effort to know about your life. I have been offered research opportunities and internships they knew I would be interested in as well as baby sitting jobs with their kids. My ministry professor has set aside time to help me through personal struggles and lined up a mentor relationship for me with his wife, Laurel. Laurel and I will grab coffee, go on hikes, and sometimes I’ll even go over to their house for breakfast just to play with their dog! I also have a couple professors that know me so well, they can tell I have a question just by looking at me. Although it can be hard to be away from home for months at a time and grappling with upper-level college courses, having adult role models that genuinely care about you and your learning experience has made it a lot easier. 

Outside of the Classroom

At Hope, I am a Business and Communication double major and a Ministry minor. What sets Business majors at Hope apart in the job market is all the things that they participate in outside of the classroom. Something that has been very impactful for me and my time in the Business department has been my involvement in Baker Scholars. Baker Scholars is a leadership development program for upperclassmen in the Business & Economic Department. The application process includes multiple essays and two days of interviews. The only schools who still offer the program are Hope College and Georgetown. Currently, I am one of twelve total Baker Scholars. Because of the small group size, I have been able to make deep connections within the department. The program has given me priceless opportunities to travel, network with Hope College alumni/executives, and participate in workshops that focus on conflict management, design thinking and more. This spring, Baker Scholars are going to Amsterdam and Paris! 

Hope College Baker Scholars in Boulder, CO focusing on team building through climbing.

I have been incredibly happy with my academic experience at Hope College. Professors and peers are always willing to help, creating an extremely supportive and collaborative environment. I have felt genuinely cared for yet challenged, which I believe created the ultimate environment for success.

Published by Julia O'Halla

Class of 2023 Hometown: Grosse Pointe, Michigan Major(s): Business, Communication Minor(s): Ministry

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