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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.

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 are 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.

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.

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.

The Most Wonderful Time at Hope College

Coming back to campus after Thanksgiving may not sound like any fun. However, there is nothing like Christmas music and festive decorations to make the last couple weeks of the semester that much better. Holland, Michigan, may be well known as a beach town, but there is something so enchanting about 8th Street covered in snow and strung with lights and stockings above the Bultman Student Center fireplace.

Every year Student Congress decorates the Bultman Student Center with everything from a 20-foot tree to poinsettias and lights. The dining halls are always festive and Phelps has one of the best Christmas playlists out there.

The annual Presidential Christmas Tree Lighting

When President John Knapp and Mrs. Kelly Knapp were at Hope they planted a Christmas tree right next to the President’s House. Every year since, our campus has come together the week after Thanksgiving for the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting.

This year was the President’s Sixth Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. The campus gathered around the tree and we counted down for the tree to light up. With a beautifully lit tree, we sing Christmas carols led by the President.

When Betty Voskuil moved into the President’s House, she wanted to continue the longtime tradition of setting up luminaries along the sidewalk of her house on Christmas. She then thought it would be even more beautiful to place the luminaries along the sidewalk through the Pine Grove. After we lit the tree at the President’s House, all the students walked through the luminaries to the Bultman Student Center.

In recent years we have decorated Santa cookies in the Bultman Student Center while Christmas hits blast through the speakers. This year, we took it to the next level and combined the Tree Lighting with the weekly SAC Coffeehouse for a Christmas-themed Coffeehouse. There were three different performers but one of the most memorable was President Voskuil opening up the Christmas Karaoke with Jingle Bells.

The whole afternoon is such a fun study break for students to gather and celebrate the holiday season, but the Christmas Tree Lighting is just one of the many festivities around campus this time of year. Dykstra Hall, for years, has a decorating contest that completely transforms the residential hall. You will never see anything like it. I’ve seen everything from a full reenactment of the movie Elf to the entire cluster wrapped in wrapping paper.

Dykstra Cluster 1-2 completely wrapped in wrapping paper.

I could go on and on about the Holland Parade of Lights or all of Durfee Hall singing Christmas Carols in the alleyway between Dykstra and Gilmore. All of these traditions make Hope that much more like home during the holidays.

Finding Your “Thing” at Hope College

Whether it’s friends, clubs, or a major, finding your “thing” in college can be a daunting task. With about 80 different clubs and student groups at Hope College, you have plenty to choose from! Here are some tips that will hopefully help you determine what “thing” is right for you.  

  1. Think about your interests.

Are you an athlete? You don’t have to be on a Hope varsity team to play sports here; there are many intramural options. Maybe trying to make the world a better place is more your style? There are community service organizations on campus that can help you do your part for the world.

It doesn’t have to be something you did in high school or something you’ve tried before. It could be something you’ve never even heard of before, like this thing we have called “The Pull.” You think you know what a tug-of-war is? Think again. The Pull is a whole new level of tug-of-war, and one of the nation’s oldest standing college traditions!

  1. Try, try, and try again!

There is no better time than college to step out of your comfort zone and try something new! Remember, if you try something and it isn’t working out for you, you don’t have to stick with it. Part of the college experience is exploring things you may not have had the opportunity to do before. Try it out and if you don’t like it, if it doesn’t fit in your schedule, or if it simply isn’t for you, don’t be afraid to step away from it. That’s okay.  

Currently, I am involved in YoungLife, Greek Life, Nykerk, and I have an on-campus job. But my “things” didn’t come right away. My freshman year I was involved in a handful of other activities like intramural sports, Habitat for Humanity and Ski & Snowboard Club. Do I play intramural badminton anymore? No, but it was a great experience to explore and I met some great friends! It’s important to figure out what fits best for you and your schedule.

  1. Hope has many resources to help you find your place.
  • At the beginning of each year there is an Activities and Volunteer Fair. This is an exciting opportunity that allows you to explore all the organizations Hope College has to offer.

    Hope College students hold their annual Activity Fair in the Pine Grove on Hope’s campus.
  • The Student Activities Committee (commonly referred to as SAC) is an awesome organization on campus that plans fun student activities for everyone on campus.
  • Stuck on which major to choose? Stop by the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career. They can help you identify your strengths and find which educational or occupational path may be right for you.
  • And, don’t forget to check out this list of all the clubs and organizations Hope has to offer! 
  1. Try not to worry about finding your “thing” right away!

You may find the activity, club, major, etc. you love to do right away, but it may take a year or two. Take the time to explore different options and don’t be afraid to ask for help, I promise you will find your “thing” eventually!

Learning To Be Thankful One Day At A Time

Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. When I tell people this, I generally get a lot of questions asking why. No, it’s not because my favorite food is mashed potatoes (though it definitely takes a nice second to puppy chow) or because I love watching the Lions lose every year. It’s the idea of taking a specific day out of your life to be thankful. I don’t know about you, but I often forget how good I truly have it. I do not lack food or shelter or a loving support system of family and friends, yet, without fail, I never tell my amazing Heavenly Father about these gifts and why I love them except on this one day a year.

Just going through my normal day provides me with enough things to be thankful for to last a lifetime.

I wake up at the cottage that I share with five of my closest friends. I cannot tell you enough how amazing they all are and how grateful I am to be able to live with them on campus. Our cottage, Mayor’s, sits right across the street from Centennial Park. The Park is beautiful during this time of year. There are so many bright and vibrant colors on the tree. I thank God for my friends, a warm house, and the colors that lighten our lives.

Female student jumps in front of wood church doors. As I walk through Hope’s campus towards my first class, I find an abundance of things to be thankful for in each glance. I pass Dimnent Chapel, my favorite place to worship, and the Bultman Student Center, where I always try to study but fail because I always see so many people that I know and love. I arrive at the DePree Art Center, my favorite building on campus. Inside it sit all my friends, ready to learn and make amazing art together. There is no shortage of inspiration here. I thank God for the places on campus that aide in making me a more rounded student and person, as well as a major (Art) that I love so much.

After class, I go to work at Hope’s Public Affairs and Marketing office where I work as a student graphic designer. I enjoy making materials like posters and cards that go out to all sides of campus. It’s so fun seeing my work hanging up places. I am thankful for the opportunities there that are teaching me to become a better graphic designer, the bosses that want to see me learn, and the coworkers that always keep me smiling.

After my day is done, I return back to my cottage. Without fail, I always have at least one text on my phone for one of my family members. Even though I don’t get to see them every day, it’s nice to know that they are one ever one text or phone call away. I’m thankful for a family that is always so present, no matter where we are.

That concludes my day of thankfulness, yet it doesn’t even begin to cover all of the things that I could be thankful for.

Glasses Under the Sea

Mountain MaleI lost my glasses in the Mediterranean Sea.

Twice. I don’t miss them one bit. Why? Because I learned two important lessons when I studied in Spain last May.

First, don’t go kayaking without securing your glasses. Second, you have a rare opportunity to earn college credit while having a marvelous adventure by finding a new way of seeing things — in more ways than one, in my case.

At Hope, I’m used to a rather “structured” academic schedule as an engineering major. I went to Spain in May 2018 with Dr. Berta Carrasco to finish up my SpanishHouse of Ruins Spain minor and also fulfilled my Culture Heritage II credit without putting my engineering class schedule in crisis.

Before going to Spain, I had to figure out how to afford my trip. There’s obviously an upfront cost to studying abroad other than just the plane ticket, housing, and college credits. But really, it just depends how you look at that upfront expense when thinking about how you’ll afford it. For me, it was an investment in my education by taking a class I would have to take anyway, with the added benefit of spending that time abroad. Not only would I have a pretty awesome time, but I’d have a unique experience as a global learner that would set me apart from others.

GrenadaOf course, loving travel is also a huge part of it. Seeing the world is an experience that you just have to do, especially since we’re so young. For us as Hope students, we should take advantage of the interdisciplinary opportunity that we still have. Seeing the world not only allows us to learn more about the world, but allow us to get out of our comfort zones. In my case, it was being able to speak Spanish for an entire month while taking in the culture around me.

Once you study abroad, you also get a very rare opportunity for clarity. You get a chance to step away and embrace a different way of doing things, at least for a little bit, and experience what really matters in life from a different point of view. This new way of life may grant you a few things: More free time, more opportunities while you’re abroad, a different pace of life, or all the above.

The moment you leave home, you’re just not worried about the same things anymore.

Norway Male Rock

The free time is amazing. For three whole days during my May Term in Spain, I did nothing but contemplate life while on a hilltop in Norway for a weekend.

The moment you leave home, you’re just not worried about the same things anymore. You have a chance to make the most out of your experience and chase your next endeavor wherever you decide to go abroad.

Still curious? You can learn more by consulting with one of Hope’s global ambassadors at the Center for Global Engagement office inside the Martha Miller Center.

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.