Worrying About the “What If?”

Female Hope Student
Chandler Alberda is a junior from Austin, Texas

Deciding where to go to college was just as stressful and scary as it was exciting. What if I made the wrong choice and I missed out on an entirely different experience at a different school? I wanted someone else to decide for me so I didn’t have to think about it. My whole mindset changed once I went on college visits. As I visited different campuses I began to envision what it would look like to live there.

Being on Hope’s campus, I could feel the supportive and lively community even though I was only in Holland for a couple of days. Seeing the campus, talking to the students and sitting in on classes made my decision very clear. I saw myself as a student at Hope. Buying my dorm stuff, meeting my roommate and signing up for classes was all fun but the hard decisions didn’t just stop once I decided to go to Hope. All of a sudden, I had to choose a major.

At Hope, many new students come in as “undecided.” This was refreshing because I didn’t know exactly what field I wanted to go into. With the liberal arts education, I was able to take classes in the musical arts, political science, communication and business, all in my freshman year of college. This way I wasn’t picking a degree out of the blue but I could test out the waters.

I met so many people when I came to Hope and at least half of them were all deciding on their major too. One of the first classes every student takes is the First Year Seminar (FYS). In this class, you and other first-year students discover what your passions are and can transition into college together. We also took personality tests that would tell us what our strengths are. I was Woo, Communication, Activator, Maximizer, and Futuristic.

I met with faculty and advisors to find out what Hope could offer me, and I discovered the types of classes I enjoy. Once I paired my passions with my strengths, I felt confident in declaring my major. I became a Communication major and I fell in love with the upper-level classes that I was taking even though I thought that declaring a major could prohibit me from experiencing other classes that Hope had to offer. Through the general education requirements and electives, I still got to take classes that taught me skills outside of communication.

Decisions are hard and college can be scary. What is comforting is that there are many students that have gone through the same trials. Everyone else that shows up on move-in day will be figuring it out just like you. A huge part of college is discovering what you love to do and making your passions a part of your everyday life. Hope College has so many resources available to discern those passions. Take advantage of the advising programs and technology that Hope has.

Lastly, transitioning from high school to college is going to put you out of your comfort zone. Try new things and take chances. You never know what opportunities can arise in places you would least expect. Deciding on a college and picking a major are both hard decisions. But they are easier made if you take the time to explore your options. An overnight visit to a college and a class in a subject you’ve never studied can be intimidating but you may come across your new favorite thing.

Campus in a Summer State of Mind

hope hat and water bottle in foreground, shadow of big red lighthouse in background

When your parents first drop you off at Hope, it is hard to imagine that you might not want to go back to “home sweet home” next summer. Holland is an enjoyable city to be in from Fall to Spring, but summertime is prime time for this beach town. Locals will tell you that Hope students are truly missing out when they pack their bags for summer, only to return when classes start up for fall.

Finding Friends

What is stopping people from staying around in the summer? Most often it is the misconception that campus is dead. That is farthest from the truth. Hope has a variety of activities and programs that keep the campus full of life all summer long. Events and Conferences host dozens of camps that bring in new groups from all over the country weekly. And, while it’s definitely not the same vibe as during the school year, there are plenty of Hope students who stick around campus in the summer that it’s no trouble finding friends to hang out with. I used to be skeptical about staying in Holland over a break until one Easter I wasn’t able to make it home. Turns out, there were so many others that I would not have gotten to know and love if I had not stayed on campus.

Working on Campus

Student workers for physical plant driving a utility vehicle. Nearly every office on campus hires students to help them out during the summer. You learn so much and gain respect for the way that our staff and faculty spend all summer bettering the campus so that everything runs smoothly when students return in the fall.  Student workers help with everything from landscaping with Physical Plant, researching with their professors, giving campus tours with the Admissions office, and more! All of these options are valuable experiences and opportunities that are still relaxed enough to give you plenty of play time outside of the office.

Living in a Beach Town

The Holland area is a vacation destination for thousands of people every summer which makes staying here over the summer the perfect balance between work and vacation. I have been to the beach and out for ice cream nearly every day and it never gets old. If you are down for an adventure, there are plenty of day trip options to nearby state parks or other beach towns like Saugatuck or Grand Haven. Or relax by taking advantage of the Pine Grove, beach volleyball courts, or strolling beautiful downtown Holland. With all this to do, my friends and I haven’t had a dull moment on campus this summer.

Staying at Hope in the summer is experiencing the same friendly and loving community except with a summer state of mind. Most of the same resources you use during the academic year such as the Bultman Student Center, the Dow, and the library are still available. Plus staff and faculty love to see students around in the summer, and often times, they are even more willing to meet with you if you need advising or just a chat. You are guaranteed to meet new people and have fun experiences you would not have during the school year. Turns out, in college, staying at school over the summer is actually really fun!