I love Anchor Days–the sea of visiting students who can’t quite figure out the least awkward way to hold their bright orange folders and the parents buzzing with excitement, pride, and nostalgia, all while simultaneously feeling directionally challenged and overstimulated. I love visit days, not just because of the extra energy at chapel or the fact that Phelps will have burritos, but because they remind me of my own visit days. They provide a gentle reminder that I made the right choice when I chose Hope College. 

Many of you visiting students will have great visit days. Hope has an excellent admissions department, knowledgeable and welcoming student tour guides, an abundance of opportunities to meet with faculty and staff during visits, and a beautiful campus that seems to speak for itself. I’ll never forget how my mom gawked at every little detail of campus during my visits at Hope–even down to how nice the soap dispensers were. True story. 

Every high school senior on a campus tour is holding out for that moment that everyone seems to talk about when the clouds part, and they know in their soul that they found their school–their very own go-buy-a-sweatshirt-from-the-bookstore moment. 

I remember how badly I wanted to have my college decision decided. I loved Hope, but I couldn’t figure out why the decision felt so unclear and anxiety-inducing for me. My college tours weren’t all sunshine and rainbows. No clouds parted, no voice from Heaven told me to go buy a Hope sweatshirt, and no matter how well my tours seemed to go, anxiety turned to tears on every trip home. I couldn’t figure out why everyone else seemed so excited for college, and why I felt so afraid, anxious, and didn’t feel ready for the next season of my life to begin. 

When I see visiting students around campus that walk with excitement and anticipation, I feel so excited with them, but I empathize so much more with the students who are trying to hide how uncomfortable and uncertain they are about their futures. 

So what I would say to the high school senior who can’t wait to get to Hope next fall is: I’m so excited for you. The friendships, growth, and wisdom that Hope has given me the last four years is one of the biggest blessings of my life. Finish high school strong, hug your mom a million times a day and wear the heck out of that sweatshirt. Go crazy. 

But for the anxious visiting student, what I wish someone had said to me on my own college visits is: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Visit days are tough–it’s okay if you’re not feeling excited to leave home yet. Don’t compare yourself to other people; they’re most likely feeling scared and awkward too, even if they’re not showing it. Home is always going to be there. Trust God to give you the courage you need to take the next right step, and remember that if the school you decide to go to doesn’t feel right in a semester or two–it doesn’t have to be permanent. But right now, feel what you need to feel, sneak away from campus to buy a coffee downtown, and even cry all the way home if you need to. 

Coming from someone who did all of those things, across multiple visit days, you’re going to be okay. I can’t argue with the reality that your life is changing, but you are more ready for it than you think you are. My four years have had challenges of their own, but I am so thankful I took a chance on Hope. 

Published by Kiley Graham

Class of 2023 Hometown: Petoskey, MI Major(s): Business, Communication

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *