Going into the college search, there were a lot of things I didn’t know. There seemed to be a whole new vocabulary of words and terms that applied to college that I didn’t have prior knowledge of. One of those terms was liberal arts. From the word itself and how it was used I began to build my own understanding of it, but it wasn’t until I was at Hope experiencing Liberal Arts for myself that I began to really understand and appreciate a Liberal Arts education.
I was always told that liberal arts was essentially a school were you had to take classes that weren’t for your major. That is all I really understood though. It didn’t make sense to me why anyone would choose to take classes that weren’t for their major or why someone would choose to go to a school that required them to do that. I remember talking to many friends who all had different views on liberal arts schools. Some preferred them, and some were avoiding them. This all just made me more confused though and harder to make up my own mind. I ended up deciding on Hope with that still confused idea of what a Liberal Arts education was.
Specifically, for me as a psych major, I feel that the way the Liberal Arts education has benefited me the most is through allowing me to explore a little to see what it is I am passionate about. I came in as a Psych major thinking I wanted to get into child psychology. I began to hear more about Social Work though and became really interested in it. I took a few Social Work classes but in the end, I decided that Psych was still a better fit for me, and I wasn’t even setback for having tried those classes. I was very conflicted before I took the classes though, and I think that, had I not been given the chance to explore, I would have continued my major with doubts about whether or not I was in the right place. Thankfully, a Liberal Arts education has allowed me to be confident in my decisions.
I’ve been at Hope for two years now, and it has become a lot clearer to me what a liberal arts education is and how it can benefit me. A Liberal Arts education primarily works at giving me a well-rounded education. I feel more confident in my abilities in all different areas and disciplines and not just in my major. A Liberal Arts education has shown me the connections between different disciplines helping me to get a broader and more creative view of my own major while also helping me to understand others and what they are working towards in their majors. I am grateful for having fallen in love with a liberal arts college even though I didn’t know what that meant at the time. I am only half way through, and I already see the rewards from my decision.
I remember what it felt like the summer before coming to college. I remember different daydreams of what it would be like to finally be in college, the nerves that I would get from worrying about forgetting something important, and the advice I would get that helped calm those nerves (just a little). I got advice on all sorts of things. People told me the best ways of setting up your room to get the maximum space, what to pack, what classes to take and which ones to wait for later, what to get involved in, and how to spend my time. I was told to get out of my comfort zone and to experience new things. I was told to find what my passions and dreams were and to chase those dreams. I was given such good advice, but what people didn’t really advise me much on was how to stay healthy in college. Hope College thankfully has resources that make staying healthy both physically and emotionally much easier.
- Finding the motivation to stay healthy can at times be difficult. Here at Hope though, you are surrounded by different ways to stay healthy. Our workout facilities, in the Dow, are a great resource and are open and free for students most of the day. There are so many different things to do in there that it is easy to find a fun way of working out from swimming to playing a pick-up game of basketball to weightlifting. (My favorite is the intramural sports!)
- The Dow also has our Health Center which students can use for flu shots, physicals, check-ups, and more. This facility is full of ways to stay healthy! On top of that, the dining hall is full of healthy options for those who are willing to look, and there is a nutritionist available in the Health Center on Fridays for students to talk to if they would like more tips on eating healthy. I suggest having fun with it and finding new combinations.
- While it is important to be physically healthy, it is just as important to be emotionally and mentally healthy as well. For this reason, Hope college has CAPS. CAPS is our counseling and phycological services where there are counselors there available for all students to talk to for free. They are there for students going through difficult times and even provide resources like group meditation or different types of group counseling. They are great people to talk to when you are going through a rough time and create a great support system for students! On top of this resource, for finals week, we have fun events to help students relieve stress for a little bit. Some of my favorite events include coloring and petting dogs!
These are just a few of the ways Hope helps its students stay healthy. With so many resources, it makes it so much easier to stay healthy while also being involved in the things you love to do in college!
By Monica Teuthorn
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!