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Comparing Financial Aid? Ask These Questions!

For many high school seniors and their families, the college selection process includes a comparison of financial aid offers. As you narrow your list and weigh your options, there are a few important questions to consider. Keep this list handy as you compare financial aid packages:

  • What is the renewal criteria for my financial aid? Does your financial aid package include an academic scholarship? If so, be sure to check the criteria for scholarship renewal. Academic scholarships at Hope are guaranteed through your sophomore year and renewable for your two remaining years if you maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or 2.75, depending on the scholarship. We want to ensure you have time to be involved with activities outside the classroom — internships, student clubs, service projects and more — that help build a strong resume for the next steps in your career.
  • Does my financial aid apply to off-campus programs such as study abroad? Your financial aid at Hope, including merit-based scholarships, travels with you for any Hope-approved off-campus programs.
  • What is the school’s graduation rate? How feasible is it for students in your preferred academic program to graduate within four years? At Hope, 87 percent of our graduates finish in four years or less.
  • What type of learning environment do you prefer? The most valuable financial aid is one that supports your education in an environment where you will thrive. Consider the factors critical to your success, including:
    • Academic offerings: Does the college offer the majors and minors you’re seeking?
    • Size of school: Where do you see your best fit — at a large, mid-sized or small school?
    • Faith: Is an active faith community important to your personal development?
    • Faculty-student relationships: How closely do faculty collaborate with students, not just in terms of faculty-to-student ratio, but also in the quality of interaction?
    • Mentorship: What kind of one-on-one attention will you receive — from academic advising to academic coaching — from career advising to preparing for graduate school?
    • Opportunities: What opportunities exist for off-campus study, hands-on research and creative performance? Can you participate in athletics, student clubs, and volunteer with service and leadership programs?
    • Sense of community: What words would you use to describe the community you’re seeking? Tight-knit? Friendly? Safe? Active? Fun? Social?
    • Support services: What services would be beneficial to you? Academic success center? Group study and peer partnership programs? Counseling and psychological services? Health center?

We are eager to help you answer these questions and any others you may have. Schedule a campus visit to talk to us in person, or contact us at admissions@hope.edu or 616.395.7850. We can’t wait to tell you more about what makes Hope such a special place!

How to Find Outside Scholarships to Help Pay for College

Paying for college is a big concern for many families, but fear not: as you may have heard, there’s lots of free money out there to help you pay for college. You just need to know where to look and then make the time to go after it!

If you’re a high school junior or younger, this is the prime time for tracking down outside scholarships. Let’s get to it.

Start at Your Counseling Office

First things first — drop in or make an appointment at your high school’s counseling or guidance office to ask about local scholarships. You can also check for a directory of local awards in the guidance section of your school’s website. These awards are typically sponsored by local businesses, community foundations, or area chapters of groups like the Lions Club, Rotary International and others. Maybe your school even holds an awards ceremony in the spring where these scholarships are doled out to the senior class. Don’t miss these!

Yes, Check the Internet

By far the largest source of information about outside scholarships is, you guessed it, online. Scholarship and college search sites like FastwebCappex (one of Hope’s partners) and FinAid.org make it easy to find scholarships for which you might qualify. You can even filter for opportunities that match your demographic and academic background.

As with anything online, be vigilant — make sure you’re only taking the time to pursue scholarship opportunities from reputable companies and organizations. And don’t spend any money to access scholarship directories or hire a company to do the search for you, either. There are plenty of reputable (and free!) resources out there.

Now, Get to Work!

Of course, it’s not enough to simply find these outside scholarships. No, you actually have to apply for them, and this is where my best advice comes in. If you can, make searching and applying for outside scholarships your part-time job (or one of them!) during your junior and senior years.

It seems like every year there’s an inspiring story about some high school senior who applied for hundreds of outside scholarships. Sure she got turned down for most of them, but she was awarded the other 20, and they added up quickly. What if you spent 30 minutes a day working on scholarship stuff? You might be surprised at what you can earn by investing the time and showing up every day.

Getting Paid

So you’ve received some outside scholarships! That’s awesome. Most organizations will want to be in touch with your college or university of choice to find out where to send the award money. Others will write a check made out to you that you can use for books, tuition, or even a new computer for school.

Leave No Stone Unturned

And finally, make sure you’ve maximized all of the internal scholarship opportunities available at your schools of choice. Have you applied for academic scholarships? What about auditioning for an artistic award? Lastly, be sure you’ve filed for need-based aid.


So there you have it! Some quick ideas on finding outside scholarships to pay for college. As with anything, what you get out of this has much to do with the time you spend doing it. Good luck!

Spring Semester at Hope

Hope is a school filled with both goofy and revered traditions (which is part of the reason I was so excited to become a student here!) Many of the big, competitive traditions take place in the fall, such as The Pull or the Nykerk Cup, but there are many more events that happen every year in the winter and spring. The first snow marks the beginning of many traditions. Students scramble into the Pine Grove for a peer organized snowball fight. The Durfee boys gather and carol to Dykstra and Gilmore… in their boxers. They are always freezing cold, but have to keep that tradition alive!

In February, SAC, or the Student Activities Committee, holds Winter Fantasia at a beautiful location in downtown Grand Rapids. This is a chance to pull out your heels or tie and spruce up for night of dancing. From hors d’euvres to photo booths to elegant fountains and chandeliers, this is a chance to get whisked away from studies for a night.

Dance Marathon takes place in March and is a major part of life on campus. This fundraiser for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital holds events to raise money beginning in the fall semester, but the big event is the 24 hour extravaganza of dancing and fun mixed with the stories recounting the reality of some of these kid’s lives and reminding participants why they’re on their feet for 24 hours. There are countless ways to get involved: you can be a part of the “Dream Team” that plans the event, be a moraler for the dancers, or be on a team and dance for 24 hours.

Enjoying the sun at Spring Fling.

Spring Fling is the big end of the year hurrah. Planned by SAC, students join together in the Pine Grove one last time. There are bouncy house obstacle courses, mechanical bull riding, a zip-line, good food, and more.

This team put two shopping carts together.

Another event that takes place during Spring Fling is The Push: a shopping cart race around the Pine Grove. Teams of around 5 take turns pushing members in the shopping cart, then switch every lap. It’s a fun element added into this end of the year event.

Hope You Go Greek!

Fraternities and sororities are a huge part of going to college in America. No matter where you go there are different ideas, stereotypes, and myths about Greek organizations. I am here to give you a glimpse into the amazing, diverse, and fun-loving lives of greek members at Hope College. Greek Life at Hope aims to enrich the lives of students by fostering lifelong relationships and connections through leadership, academic, and social accountability. Each organization is unique and brings something completely different to the Hope community.

About 20% of the campus is a member of a Greek organization. From this group of people, you will find students that are involved in nearly every activity on campus.

One thing that is special about the culture of Greek Life at Hope is that it is not exclusive and it will never inhibit you from experiencing other parts of campus. I have found that in joining a sorority I opened up connections to nearly every pocket on campus and was able to meet people outside of my dorm, class, major, and even interests. Nearly every campus activity that you join you can count on a Greek member being there. To be Greek at Hope is a great way to have a presence in Hope’s community and to be able to see a familiar face no matter where you go.

There are a couple of things that make Greek Life at Hope a little different. For one, we have rush in the spring as opposed to many schools that recruit new members in the fall. This allows freshmen to get settled and meet people from every organization without any sort of pressure. In addition to that, our rush process is a little over two weeks long. This allows for rushees — students rushing a fraternity or sorority — to actually get to know the actives and vice versa. What I really appreciate about our rush process is that it is designed so that rushees are given multiple opportunities to explore every single organization before finding which one would best fit them. When I rushed, not only did I find a sorority I love, but I met so many people in different organizations all around campus.

Once rush is over rushees will receive a bid, a formal invitation, to join an organization. At this point, Greek Orientation starts — a 3-week orientation process that all new actives will go through after choosing an organization. These 3 weeks are filled with learning about the history and traditions of each organization. It was during this time that I created hilarious memories and bonds with my pledge class, the same people that rushed with me.

After those three weeks are over, you are welcomed with open arms to be an active member of your sorority or fraternity. This is when the real fun begins. There are countless social events that will introduce you to members of nearly every Greek Organization on campus. Not only will you grow socially but each organization participates in fundraisers that will benefit the community. Fun fact: Did you know that Dance Marathon was brought to Hope by Greek Life? Since then the Greek community has been a pivotal part of the success of Dance Marathon at Hope.

Once joining this community you will find that there are a couple of things that differentiate Hope Greek Life from the Greek communities you may hear about at other schools. For instance, apart from one national fraternity on campus, every other organization is local. The only difference is that local organizations do not abide by any national laws regarding dues. Another thing you will find is that organizations may not be referred to by their letters. For instance, there are Dorians, Emersonian, Sibyllines, and Cosmos. May feel tricky but you could easily get the hang of it. Another difference is that not every member lives in the organization’s house. At Hope, only about ten members live in the organization’s cottage.

I rushed Delta Phi because I wanted to be a part of something at Hope. What I found is that I entered a community that stretched me to experience college in a completely different way. I found friends that make me laugh for hours, are up for every kind of adventure and are committed to supporting each other in all kinds of ways. I love carrying on traditions and values that began before I was even born. I became part of a family line of amazing women that remind me to work hard and live life to the fullest. I am incredibly thankful for being a part of Greek Life at Hope College and the ways that it has enhanced my time at Hope. I know it may sound like a lot but I encourage all students to explore the opportunities that this community can bring!

You can find out more about Greek Life here! For another, more detailed, blog about Greek Life at Hope check out this blog!

Why Your Freshman Year Roommate Experience Doesn’t Define Your Hope Experience

I love residential life on Hope College’s campus maybe just a little too much. Over the last three years of living on Hope’s campus, I have enjoyed spending the last two being a Resident Assistant (also affectionately known as a R.A.) to the women of Phelps Hall and Mayor’s Cottage. Living on-campus has shaped me to be a much better person than I was when I entered college. However, I never would’ve expected that to be the case during my freshman year.

Abigail Brummel is a junior and former resident of Phelps Hall.

When I decided to attend Hope my senior year of high school, I didn’t really know anyone else who was planning on attending. Because of this, I decided to come in without a roommate, otherwise known as ‘going potluck.’ I filled out my housing form and prayed that the Lord would lead me to a lifelong friend and the most amazing roommate ever. I pictured us decorating our room in corresponding colors and staying up past midnight sharing secrets. As you can tell, I was pretty naive to how the real world works then. That was not what happened.

I want to preface this story by saying that I still occasionally see my freshman year roommate. If she is reading this, I want her to know that I appreciated our time together and that I think she is an amazing person. We just weren’t amazing people for each other.

Our first semester living together was one of barely speaking and living two very separate lives. I loved our quaint little dorm room in Phelps Hall; she didn’t really like being their very much. I enjoyed being on campus 24/7 and didn’t really see my family very often; her mom is her best friend and she went and slept at home a couple nights a week. I didn’t particularly mind our arrangement. I thought it was okay. However, I don’t believe that she did.

About a month into our second semester, my roommate sent me a text asking if we could chat that evening. She hadn’t been sleeping in our room for the past couple nights, so I thought she just wanted to catch up when she got back. When I arrived back at our room, she asked me to sit and explained to me that she had decided that she no longer wished to live in the dorms and was moving back home. She said that being in a dorm gave a bit of anxiety that she couldn’t shake. I had no idea that she had felt this way. I was shocked. She said she was leaving and wanted to give me my space to process and understand her decision. After she left, I went and bawled in my friend’s room for the next hour.

Once she had moved out, I lived alone for the rest of the year. Being unsure what I was going to do for housing the next year, one of my good friends set me up with a girl also looking for a roommate. We hung out a couple times and found we really liked hanging out with each other, enough to live together. Now, she is one of my best friends and my roommate of two years. Having seen both sides of the spectrum, the loneliness of not having a roommate to someone who I can talk to about anything, has truly made me into a better R.A., friend, and person.

If you’ve made it this far in my story, stick with me for a moral. No matter how your roommate relationship goes, I want to let you know what I didn’t then. What I didn’t understand was that her decision to leave had nothing to do with me. It wasn’t that I was a bad roommate or a bad friend; she just needed to find a space where she could be comfortable. My space was the dorm; her space was at home. Going our separate ways made me better and I cannot thank her enough for that.

Once in Your Shoes: Reflections from the Harveys to Prospective Hope Parents

Feel like you’re swimming in questions about searching for the right college? You’re not alone! In this series, “Once in Your Shoes,” four Hope families share their wisdom about the college search process as they were once in your shoes. We’ve asked these families some admissions-related questions, with the goal of letting their experiences help you.

Jodi and Scott Harvey

Scott and Jodi Harvey, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, reflect on their family’s Hope admissions process. The Harveys’ daughter, Allie, is a member of Hope’s Class of 2022.

As college decision letters began arriving in the mail, what went through your minds?

Will Allie make the right choice? Will we be able to afford it? What if she makes the wrong choice? What will she major in? There we so many questions and uncertainties!!   

I don’t recall a lot of stress around the question of her getting into the schools she applied to, but rather I feel there was more anxiety about deciding between the schools she did get into. Helping her navigate questions of size, campus atmosphere and fit was the most difficult part of the process. I feel like Allie knew very early in the back of her mind that Hope was her first choice, but she was still questioning what the right choice was and how to make that decision. As parents, we tried to be supportive and let her make her own decisions in her own time. We let her know early on that this was her decision and that we would support whatever choice she made and make it work.

What was the criteria you were using to help in the decision process?  

Size, cost and the ‘this is it’ feeling she had on campus. Size was something that she really went back and forth on. She really wanted a school that was big enough to get involved, spread her wings and have fun but not too big where it lost that sense of community. As for cost, since all three of her top choices were out of state and/or private, at no time was in-state tuition even a consideration. Because of that, we were quite interested in the scholarship and grant options available at each of the schools. Finally, and above all, we wanted her to feel like the school she chose was someplace she felt ‘at home’ from day one.

Jodi, Allie and Scott Carpenter

What role did Hope’s faith dimension play in the decision process?  

Allie really wanted a school where she would be surrounded by like-minded peers who share a love for Christ and there is no doubt that the key factor for Allie choosing Hope was the Christian element. From the moment we sat in chapel on our first campus visit, I knew where she would want to call home. I still remember the goose bumps I had in chapel that day seeing all of the students (standing room only) pack the chapel and worship because they wanted to, not because they had to.  That was the factor that all other schools were compared to during her college search from that day on!

What advice do you have for parents regarding visiting campuses?  

Take your student to as many schools as you can so that they can get the feel of the campus first hand. While websites and virtual tours are great, they cannot replace the experience of an actual visit where you can see students interacting, feel the vibe of the campus and take in the surrounding area. Campus tours were my (Jodi) favorite part of the whole process!

What concerns did you have or can you share about paying for college?  

I think we had, and still have, the same concerns all parents have when it comes to paying for college. We were hopeful to receive as much money in scholarships and grants as possible. We encouraged her to look at in-state schools and apply for any and all scholarships she could but did not limit her choices because of these things. We were very clear with Allie what our “budget” for her was and weighed all of her options with her. I would suggest to others going through the process now to weigh the value of the return on investment at all the schools they are looking at. 

When did Allie know Hope was the best and possibly only option?  

From day one of our first visit!  She loved hearing the student perspectives during one of the breakout sessions and attending chapel. From then on, all other schools were compared to Hope and all other towns compared to Holland.

Any other thoughts or stories you would like to share?  

My advice would be to enjoy this exciting time. Take the time to explore as many college options as your child is interested in. Visit a variety of schools – different sizes, locations, public, private, city, small college towns.  The more you visit, the better feel your student will have for what feels right. Chances are you will be as lucky as we were and just know once you find it.  Be supportive of your student and the choice he/she makes. This is a big decision and as much as you want them to make the right choice, he/she is the one who will be moving out and living at the school the next four years.

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Once in Your Shoes: Reflections from the Zobecks to Prospective Hope Parents

Feel like you’re swimming in questions about searching for the right college? You’re not alone! In this series, “Once in Your Shoes,” four Hope families share their wisdom about the college search process as they were once in your shoes. We’ve asked these families some admissions-related questions, with the goal of letting their experiences help you.

Rosemary, Mikayla and Ed Zobeck

Ed and Rosemary Zobeck from Haslet, Michigan, reflect on their family’s Hope admission process. The Zobeck’s daughter, Mikayla, is a member of Hope’s Class of 2022.

As college decision letters began arriving in the mail, what went through your minds?

As parents, we were mostly focused on in-state opportunities but realized that Mikayla had not wanted to limit her selection geographically. We tried very hard to support her excitement as she received welcome/acceptance letters in the mail; this is all part of the process. As time went on, we believe that she came to understand that, from our perspective, unless she earned a substantial scholarship from an out-of-state college, her sights needed to consider in-state options. We began to agree also that being a drivable distance from home was a good idea. We prayed individually and as a family for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and for patience!

What was the criteria you were using to help in the decision process?  

While we discussed many issues surrounding a potential college experience for Mikayla, we had three overriding criteria. The first was would there be a vibrant Christian community within the university to support her. Second, Mikayla is seeking a career in medicine. We looked at the success rates of students being accepted into medical school. Third, we looked at the size and culture of the organization and how that fit with Mikayla’s personality and needs. She considered two schools in addition to Hope: The Ohio State University and Loyola Chicago. Loyola is similar in size to Hope and a Christian community largely in the Catholic tradition. While Ohio State is dramatically larger than either Hope or Loyola, they have smaller schools within the university that provide for a ‘small school’ experience

What role did Hope’s faith dimension play in the decision process?  

This was a significant factor. In our minds, there is a huge difference between a university which has a Christian community available and one that informs its practices and culture through the teachings of Christ.What advice do you have for parents regarding visiting campuses?  

We would strongly encourage parents to take advantage of as many visit opportunities as they can and to take advantage of speaking with students 1:1. We found that students, even random ones that we encountered in walking around campus, are very willing to talk about their experience at Hope.

What role did Hope’s status as a liberal arts school play in the decision process?

Frankly, this was more a concern to us rather than a perception of an advantage when we first began looking at Hope. Neither of us went to liberal arts schools and a great fear was our daughter graduating with a ‘liberal arts’ degree and no useful skills to enter the workforce or compete for a medical school position. However, Hope did a good job of presenting the evidence of the value of a liberal arts education on our many visits as well as the success that past graduates have had gaining admission to preferred graduate schools.

How did size of our institution influence the decision to attend Hope?

This was a strong attraction to us. One of our older children went to a large public university. When we attended orientation, the message to parents was pretty much let them find their way. While we appreciate that ‘helicopter parenting’ doesn’t do our children a lot of good, it’s also true that just because they’ve turned 18 doesn’t mean they don’t need guidance, direction and nurturing any longer. First, Hope engaged us so that we can be part of our student’s Hope experience in a way that is constructive to us as parents and good for our child. Second, Hope is small enough for professors to get to know our children and engage with them in ways that just aren’t possible in large public universities. We believe this is a tremendous academic advantage to Mikayla.How did financial aid/merit scholarship affect the decision to attend Hope?

The financial aid awards helped to level the playing field making Hope’s tuition costs comparable to that of a public university.

Any other thoughts or stories you would like to share?

We made a visit to Hope in August between Mikayla’s junior and senior years. The person who normally advises pre-med students wasn’t available, so we met with another professor who was kind enough to spend about an hour with us answering our questions about the program and what Mikayla could expect. Our next stop was lunch at Phelps Dining Hall so he offered to walk with us. Along the way, we encountered three or four students who each acknowledged the professor by name. Surprisingly to us, he too addressed each of the students by their first names. I think I was a senior at my university before I was in a class small enough for my professor to recognize me. This led to a discussion about the relationship between professors and students at Hope and how they work so hard to make themselves available to students.

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2019 Countdown to Hope

It’s a new year! And a new chapter for you as well. You’ll be starting college life in just a few months. These are exciting times — but let’s be honest, these can be stressful times, too.

We want to take the worry out of your upcoming transition to Hope College and Holland, Michigan, so we’ve created a “Countdown to Hope” — your checklist on next steps for financial aid, scholarships and enrollment.

January

  • Join Hope College Connect! Connect is our online community for admitted students.
  • Create a FAFSA account. If you have not done so already, create your Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID) at fafsa.gov and send your information to Hope using our Federal School Code, 002273.
  • Complete and submit the FAFSA. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at fafsa.gov, using 2017 tax information.
  • Watch your mailbox for scholarship info. Hope began notifying admitted students about academic (also called “merit-based”) scholarships in mid-December.
  • Respond to requests. As the Office of Financial Aid staff reviews forms, they often contact families to request more information. Be sure to respond if contacted!
  • Join the conversation! Follow Hope on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat (hope_college) and YouTube. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #Hope2023.

February

  • Last call for scholarship materials! Submit or update your materials (new test scores, class rank, GPA or high school transcript) by the February 1 deadline to be considered for academic scholarships.
  • Watch your mailbox for a financial aid package. The Office of Financial Aid begins sending financial aid award letters in early February. This letter includes your award package, which indicates the types and amount of aid offered to you for the 2019–20 academic year.

March

  • Last call for financial aid forms! Still need to submit financial aid forms? Be sure to do so by the priority filing deadline, March 1.
  • Remember to save your spot. In early March, Hope mails admitted students a request to submit the $300 enrollment deposit at hope.edu/deposit. This deposit reserves your place in the Class of 2023.

April

  • Attend Admitted Student Day! Saturday, April 13 is our annual Admitted Student Day, the perfect day to take a final look at Hope before you make your decision.

May

  • May 1 — National Candidates Reply Date! To guarantee a place in Hope’s Class of 2023, submit your deposit at hope.edu/deposit. After May 1, a deposit reserves your place only if space is available. (The enrollment deposit is nonrefundable after May 1.)
  • Watch your inbox for housing info. In late May, Hope emails housing materials to all students who have reserved their place in the Class of 2023.
  • Watch your mailbox for class registration info. Also in late May, Hope mails personal Hope College account and class registration information to all students who have reserved their place in the Class of 2023.

July

  • Save the date. In early July, Hope mails orientation materials to all students who have reserved their place in the Class of 2023. Make plans for you and your family to attend the many activities scheduled throughout Orientation Weekend in late August.
  • Find out where you’ll be living. Also in early July, Hope mails housing and roommate assignments to all students who have reserved their place in the Class of 2023.

August

  • Review your schedule. Watch your inbox for your class schedule, which Hope emails to all students who have reserved their place in the Class of 2023.
  • Celebrate! You have arrived! Your first year at Hope begins with Orientation Weekend held in late August. Move-In Day is Friday, August 23.

Once in Your Shoes: Reflections from the Goszkowiczs to Prospective Hope Parents

Feel like you’re swimming in questions about searching for the right college? You’re not alone! In this series, “Once in Your Shoes,” four Hope families share their wisdom about the college search process as they were once in your shoes. We’ve asked these families some admissions-related questions, with the goal of letting their experiences help you.

Rich and Kathleen Goszkowicz

Rich and Kathleen Goszkowicz of Muskegon, Michigan, reflect upon their family’s Hope admissions process. The Goszkowicz’s daughter, Grace, is a member of Hope’s Class of 2022.

As college decision letters began arriving in the mail, what went through your minds?

After the busy time of making decisions about where to apply and completing the application process for each school, there was a welcome pause before hearing from the schools regarding acceptance. Our daughter handled this time with relief. She had done all she could and all there was to do was wait to hear from each school. Our family considers worrying about things out of our hands as a misuse of time and emotional energy. So, this time of wait was met with a sigh of relief and filled with the enjoyment of fall.

What was the criteria you were using to help in the decision process?  

Our daughter considered both large state universities and small private colleges. We made multiple visits, connecting with staff and professors at the four institutions on her short list. We discussed the possible benefits and drawbacks of each college based on the following: areas of study available, possibilities for changing areas of study, programming of classes to allow for interests outside discipline, financial implications, level of comfort with the environment when visiting, and does this place feel like “somewhere I could live.”

What role did Hope’s faith dimension play in the decision process?  

It was not a primary reason but absolutely an added bonus. On one of our final visits, we attended Chapel. She was overwhelmed with the sense of community and connectedness Chapel provided. Basically, the decision had already been made but the experience left her with a sense of peace with her decision and solidified her choice. It was really quite powerful and we both had tears.

What role did location play in the decision process?

Location played a part in the decision process for ruling out places that were out of state, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or in a major metropolitan area, such as Chicago or Detroit. Most likely, due to the proximity of Hope to our West Michigan hometown an hour away, our daughter heard more about Hope and knew alumni. As parents, the safety of Hope’s location was encouraging.

What advice do you have for parents regarding visiting campuses?

Our daughter visited four times prior to making her final decision. As time went on and it became apparent that she was leaning toward Hope, she took more interest in visiting opportunities. Staying overnight with students was a nice way for our daughter to visit without shadowing parents. It gave her the opportunity to spend a longer time and see how some of the day to day living played out.

What role, if any, did Hope’s status as a liberal arts school play in the decision process?

We encouraged our daughter to consider liberal arts as we feel many programs have become too regimented and do not allow for broadening of ideas, encourage interests or provide a well-rounded education.

Move-in day for the Goszkowiczs.

How did size of our institution influence the decision to attend Hope?

The size was the ultimate deciding factor. Hope was the place that felt most comfortable. 

How did financial aid/merit scholarship affect the decision to attend Hope?

Financial aid and merit scholarships gave our daughter the ability to choose Hope. Without this, Hope would have been off the table due to a lack of ability to afford the tuition.

What concerns did you have or can you share about paying for college?

Paying for college is an overwhelmingly huge concern for us. While we expect our children to contribute, we carefully considered our comfort level with the amount of debt they will assume. We planned as best we could but still fell far short. We still lose A LOT of sleep over this one. It also weighs heavily on our daughter as she looks to us for guidance but cannot truly understand the far-reaching financial implications. It heightens every decision about classes taken and potential changes in study area. At a time when kids should be exploring and broadening interests, they have become prisoners to debt. It is disturbing. Of course, this problem occurs for students at all universities and is not specific to Hope. Hope did a fantastic job for Grace making the financial piece fairly equitable to public universities.

Move-in day for the Goszkowiczs.

When did Grace know Hope was the best and possibly only option?

Our daughter put Hope at the top of her shortlist by December. Once the financial packages were available to compare, she was able to make a final decision with relief and joy.

Any other thoughts or stories you would like to share?

Hope’s personal attention from her admissions representative was amazing. It made her feel connected and welcomed from the very beginning. The interest in her ideas and questions made her feel as though she was connected with Hope from the very beginning.

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Once in Your Shoes: Reflections from the Carpenters to Prospective Hope Parents

Feel like you’re swimming in questions about searching for the right college? You’re not alone! In this series, “Once in Your Shoes,” four Hope families share their wisdom about the college search process as they were once in your shoes. We’ve asked these families some admissions-related questions, with the goal of letting their experiences help you.

Chris Carpenter ’90 and Panechanh Choummanivong ’93 Carpenter

Christopher and Panechanh Carpenter, from St. Louis, Missouri, reflect upon their family’s Hope admissions process. The Carpenters’ son, Cameron, is a member of Hope’s Class of 2022.

As college decision letters began arriving in the mail, what went through your minds?

Did Cameron get into Hope College? Did we choose wisely with our selection of colleges to explore based on Cameron’s academic and career interests? Did Cameron spend enough time exploring Hope College, Holland and West Michigan? If Cameron selects Hope College, how will he cope with being eight hours away from home for the first time in his life without his parents and sister?  

As Hope alums, we had frequently shared memories of Hope College since Cameron was a small child. He had spent time touring the campus and listening to our stories many times as a teenager. While waiting for decision letters to arrive, we reminisced about our own college years, uncertainties, experiences, and lifelong friendships. We also reviewed the rationale for ranking Hope College Cameron’s #1 choice.

What was the criteria you were using to help in the decision process?  

Cameron had toured schools in Indiana and Missouri (our home state for the last 15+ years), some of which were larger and some that were more expensive. Cameron wanted to compete in college athletics as had his father. He was also comfortable in West Michigan with all of his grandparents and cousins within a 30-minute drive.  

However, the most important qualities that distinguished Hope from other colleges and universities were the engagement of the professors and coaches and the camaraderie Cameron noted during the Fly-In Weekend. The student body made him feel comfortable, while the professors he met generated excitement at the academic opportunities ahead.

What role did Hope’s faith dimension play in the decision process?  

We were comfortable allowing Cameron to explore his spiritual growth in the open-minded atmosphere of Hope College.

Cameron and sister Kayla led a walk around campus.

How many times had you visited campus before the final decision to attend Hope was made?  

Cameron had been on Hope’s campus several times during summer vacations on Lake Michigan growing up. Since Holland is an eight-hour drive from St. Louis, he didn’t have the opportunity to visit Hope during the high school year because he was committed to cross country, basketball, and track. However, he did fly to West Michigan for the Fly-In Weekend in the fall of his senior year. The opportunity to live in the dorm for a couple of days, attend classes, and encounter actual students who were studious, sufficiently challenged by their academic workload and content seemed to seal the deal for Cameron. After that weekend, he never spoke of any other colleges and has never looked back.

How did size of our institution influence the decision to attend Hope?

The size of the student body, dorms and classrooms significantly contributed to Cameron’s level of comfort with Hope College. He went to a large urban high school but seemed to know almost everyone in his graduating class. His state champion high school cross country team remains extremely close knit, and he wanted to repeat that team experience with his college career. Hope’s Cross Country program was fantastic at explaining the world of Division III sports for the scholar-athlete, especially Coach Northuis.

What concerns did you have or can you share about paying for college?  

Chris: Every semester of my four years at Hope College in the 1980s, my parents reminded me of how expensive the school was relative to state schools and how I probably wouldn’t be able to return the following semester. I had one or more jobs every semester at Hope College and was only able to afford the meal plan my freshman year. We have worked very hard for the last 30 years to ensure that our children would never feel those stressors or uncertainty about their college education — and fortunately, they have not.

Panechanh: I also worked one or more jobs throughout my four years at Hope College. Since elementary school, our children have been taught that their most important job is to be stewards of their education by participating in class, completing homework, and preparing for every exam (including ACT/SAT) to the best of their ability. They have had jobs to learn the value of earning money, but never as a necessity for affording their education. We appreciate Hope’s attention to the cost of a college education.

Any other thoughts or stories you would like to share?  

[Admissions representative] Nate Haveman played an indispensable role in maintaining Cameron’s interest in Hope College. From visiting our home to having dinner with Cameron to sending intermittent notes telling Cameron about “The Pull” or other Hope events and checking in by email to see how senior year was progressing, no other college matched this level of engagement or sincerity. Whereas other colleges made Cameron feel as if they were capable of providing a four-year college education, Nate’s approach combined with Hope’s professors and Coach Northuis made Cameron feel as if he was coming home.

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