Mechanical Engineering: Can I Actually Graduate in 4 Years?

By: Andie Alsgaard

As I was doing my college visits as a senior in high school, I constantly found myself asking engineering students if they were able to graduate in four years or if five was more realistic. Hope was the only school that was consistently stating that as an engineering student I would graduate in four years. To be honest I was skeptical about Hope. Why would every other college make students stay for five years? Was Hope missing something critical in their program? 

Now as a Junior Mechanical Engineering major I can happily say that I will graduate in four years and have two internships under my belt. Additionally, I have no gaps in the curriculum and I will be ABET-accredited. And here is how I did it…

Freshman year

Fall (18 Credits)

  • Calculus 1 with Review (4 credits): Coming from a Common Core class I found myself needing the review portion with Calc 1 material in order to set a sturdy foundation for future math classes to come.
  • General Chemistry with Lab (4 credits): This is a required mechanical engineering class and it made sense to take it as a freshman.
  • First-Year Seminar (4 credits): A required class for all freshman
  • Health Dynamics (2 credits): Required as a General Education class which focuses on wellness and exercise
  • Introduction to Engineering and Lab (4 credits): The engineering introduction class for all freshmen. This class explores all the disciplines of engineering to help students start to decide which emphasis they prefer! 

Spring (18 credits)

  • Calculus 1 with Review (4 credits): Due to the review portion of this class it was two semesters. Most students would take Calculus 2 in the spring of their freshman year.
  • Expository Writing (4 credits): This is a gen ed requirement for all students
  • Religion 100 (2 credits): All students are required to take one half-semester religion gen ed and this is when it fit into my schedule

All engineering students take 4 half-semester classes to further explore the various disciplines

  • Circuits 1 with Lab (2 credits): Analyzed basic circuits with math and hands-on lab 
  • Introduction to Materials (2 credits): Explored material properties at the base level
  • Introduction to CAD (2 credits): Taught students SolidWorks design
  • Conservation Principles (2 credits): Chemical engineering class where basic processes are explored

Summer Freshman Year

May Term (4 credits)

Since my calculus one class took two semesters I was now behind on the math track for engineering. I decided to take calculus two as a May term. A May term is 4 intense weeks of just one class!

After my May Term was completed I had a full-time position working on a factory line at Herman Miller in Zeeland. This was not an internship but a great resume builder where I gained real-world manufacturing experience.

Sophomore Year

Fall (18 credits)

  • Social Science – Anthropology (4 credits): All students have to take two social science classes as part of their gen eds. I decided to take an anthropology class which was very interesting!
  • Cultural Heritage 1 (4 credits): Another gen ed requirement. This class explored the history and philosophy of ancient Greek, Roman and Biblical stories. 
  • Multivariable Calculus 1 (4 credits): This class is the third in the calculus chain for engineering students.
  • Statics (4 credits): This is the first in a string of three classes for mechanical students. Statics looks at objects when they are at rest.
  • Circuits 2 with Lab (2 credits): The other half of circuits that all engineering students take. This class was again only half of a semester.

Spring (15 credits)

  • Spanish 1 (4 credits): Two semesters of language are required for all students at Hope however there are a variety of languages available. I decided to take Spanish as it is applicable in the manufacturing environment. 
  • Engineering Computing (3 credits): This class teaches students how to code in two different languages: Matlab and C. 
  • Mechanics of Materials with Lab (4 credits): This is the class after statics. Taking the knowledge taught in statics but now it is applied to static systems with material properties. This has been my favorite lab that I have ever had at Hope. In the lab every week you create a different material and test it to failure – it was awesome!
  • Multivariable Calculus 2 (4 credits): My favorite math class of the calculus path. This is the last of 4 calculus classes that engineers are required to take.

Sophomore Summer

I took a Lean Six Sigma online summer class through Purdue. This is not required but rather helpful for the manufacturing path. 

As I took the summer class I was given the opportunity to do research with an engineering faculty member. Summer research is a full time paid internship for students. I worked in the civil lab developing a code that modeled how earthquakes affect skyscrapers. Research looks amazing on a resume and is a great way to meet other students, and you get to stay on campus all summer!!

Junior Year

Fall (17 credits)

  • Introduction to Guitar (2 credits): This class was again required as a Music gen ed. I loved learning how to play the guitar. The class style is so different compared to engineering so it provided a nice diverse class schedule.
  • Spanish 2 (4 credits): I needed to reach a 200 level class of a language to fulfill the gen ed requirement so I took this class to do so.
  • Dynamic Systems and Lab (4 credits): This is a core requirement for all engineering students. It explores modeling processes in terms of algebraic equations.
  • Structural Analysis (3 credits): As engineering students reach Junior and Senior year they must take 4 discipline-specific classes. This was the first of my four Mechanical classes.
  • Physics 1 and Lab (4 credits): All engineering students must take two semesters of physics with a lab. This was class number one.

Spring (13 credits) **Current**

  • Physics 2 and Lab (4 credits): The second in the required string of physics classes for engineers.
  • Mathematical Physics (2 credits): this class is required for all engineers and is one of the hardest that we take…
  • Mechanical Dynamics (3 credits): This is the third class in the statics string. Now systems are moving as they are analyzed.
  • Religion 200 (4 credits): All students are required to take a 200 level religion class. However, the topics vary – this specific class focuses on understanding biblical stories from various perspectives.

Junior Summer

I am currently writing this in January of my junior year. I have two internship offers on the table. The first at Herman Miller as an engineering intern. This position was offered to me because of my prior work experience at Herman Miller. The second is at SteelCase where I would be apart of their Lean/Quality Engineering Team. 

My Senior Year Will Look Like:

Fall (17 credits)

  • Senior Design (3 credits): All engineering students take two semesters of design. In this class, they are put in small groups of 3-5 students and given a real client with a real problem. Throughout the two semesters, students work with Hope faculty and their client to propose a solution while learning about engineering ethics.
  • Thermodynamics (3 credits): All engineering students take this, no matter their discipline. It explores various processes in various environments.
  • Cultural Heritage 2 (4 credits): Hope students must take two cultural heritage classes – this will be my second.
  • Vibrations (3 credits): This will be my second of four discipline-specific classes.
  • Geology and Environmental Science 1 (2 credits): As a mechanical engineer I am required to take one geology class. This one is half of a semester and very hands-on.
  • Social Science 2 (2 credits): Another social science class to fulfill my requirement. Another half-semester class.

Spring (17 credits)

  • Senior Design (3 credits): The second required semester of design.
  • Controls (3 credits): The third of my mechanical classes. This class explores control systems and modern modeling software.
  • Fine Arts 1 (4 credits): I have to take an art class which fits nicely in my schedule here!
  • Senior Seminar (4 credits): At a lot of other schools this is called a Capstone class and is not engineering specifically.
  • Fluids (3 credits): The fourth of my mechanical classes.

While I did have to take one summer class it could have been avoided by taking the regular calculus one class. Even as an engineer I can be out in four years. At the beginning of the four years, we take more than 16 credits, which seems like a lot but it is completely do-able especially with half semester classes. Hope sets students up for success and pushes them towards real-world work in just four years.

Countdown to Hope

* Note: This post is updated annually in January for newly admitted students.

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 #Hope2024.

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 2020-21 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 2024.

April

  • Attend Admitted Student Day! Saturday, April 18 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 2024.
  • 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 2024.

July

  • Save the date. In early July, Hope mails orientation materials to all students who have reserved their place in the Class of 2024. 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 2024.

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 2024.
  • Celebrate! You have arrived! Your first year at Hope begins with Orientation Weekend held in late August. Move-In Day is Friday, August 28.

Five Signs That You Miss Your Pet

No need to be in denial, missing your pets while at college is a real thing! Here’s the key signs that you’re missing the furriest part of your family and how to deal with pet withdrawals.

1. Every time you see a dog or cat around campus you can’t stop staring.

I’ll admit I’ve been caught staring at dogs by many owners. Most of the time they just smile at me, but I have received odd looks here and there. But you just can’t help it! Seeing a dog or cat around campus is hypnotizing, I immediately can’t think of anything else but wanting to pet them. These thoughts eventually lead to my dog and thinking about how I wish I could be with her. The best way to cope with these feelings is to approach the owner, if they seem friendly enough, and politely ask to pet their dog. So while walking around campus, keep an eye out for any opportunity to give a good boy a scratch behind the ears.

2. Whenever you FaceTime home you always ask to see your pet.

This is me FaceTiming my dog who was trying to sleep.

Sometimes you just have to baby talk through the phone to your dog, you know? Requesting to see your pet while FaceTiming your family is completely acceptable, but in order to avoid any tension I would suggest talking to your family for at least five minutes before asking to hand the phone over to your cat or dog. The key to these exchanges is to include as many nicknames for your pet as possible. Here’s a list of my favorites, please feel free to use these yourself or to take some creative liberty and create your own.

  1. Floofer
  2. Pooper
  3. Flooper
  4. Fluffer
  5. Stinker
  6. Baby Girl
  7. Muffin
  8. Poptart
  9. Really Any Food
  10.  Sadie Shanaynay McSpanky Pants (My dogs full name, I named her when I was 8)

One of my close friends prefers to call her dog Swippy so just make sure that you’re speaking from the heart.

3. Pictures of your pet are anywhere and everywhere

This picture is currently my computer screensaver.

Currently a picture of my dog is my phone lock screen, my laptop screen saver, on my photo bulletin board, in a frame by my bed and my bookmark for the book I keep on my nightstand. I would say my symptoms are an extreme case of pet withdrawals, but if your life looks similar to mine, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. It’s okay to be proud of your pet and want the whole world to see just how cute they are. Remember, the first step in recovery is acceptance. So accept that you’re a crazy pet owner and proudly show everyone who is (or isn’t) willing to see your beautiful fur baby.

4. When you go grocery shopping you always end up in the pet section somehow.

Here’s Sadie showing off the new collar I got her. Go blue!

If this hasn’t happened to you, you’re lying. Especially when there’s a sale going on it’s absolutely impossible to not do a little window shopping. Most recently when I found myself in the pet section I ended up buying my dog a new collar to give her when I went home for fall break. Was it a smart purchase? No. Do I regret it? Absolutely not, she looks great in it and I know for a fact that I’m not the only pet owner who has made these kinds of purchases. Every time I go shopping with my friend (the owner of Swippy) she always makes us stop in the pet section. Most recently she purchased a piñata costume for her dog to wear on Halloween. Was it a smart purchase? No. Does she regret it? Not in the slightest.

5. When ever you go home all you do is spend time with your pet.

When scrolling through my camera roll you can tell when I’ve gone home based on the amount of pictures there are of my dog. Being in college, getting to go home is a rare luxury, especially for us out-of-state students. That’s why it’s so important that every moment home is used to its fullest potential. Make sure to get in as many cuddle sessions as possible and don’t forget walks, treats and playtime! It’s also very important to take as many pictures of your pet as possible before you have to go back to school. This will make the withdrawals back at college easier on you, since you’ll have so many memories to look back on. Plus the more pictures you have, the more options you have for screen savers! 

In all seriousness, missing your pet can be tough. It’s not like you can just text them a cute little “I miss you” text. Just know that no matter the distance, they know how much you love them even if they don’t always show it. A pet’s love is undying and their friendship is forever. Just remember that every time you leave for college they’ll be patiently waiting with wagging tails and wet kisses for you to come home.

Preparing for Exams…What is it Like?

By: Andie Alsgaard

Everyone approaches Exam Week a little differently in college. It depends on where you like to study, how you like to study and what you’re doing for your final grade. As a STEM major, specifically an engineer, I rarely write papers. Instead, I’m studying for final exams.

Exam Week is a unique time of the year. Everyone wants to be home and the only thing holding them back from being reunited with their family (and pets!) are exams. There are no more lecture classes, no more labs; in fact, the only time you’re in class is to take your final. 

Personally, my days are devoted to studying and reviewing all of the content that I learned over the semester. Additionally, some professors allow for cheat sheets – a way to compile whatever you want on a set amount of paper. I love to make cheat sheets. I spend most of my study time looking through my notes and old test in order to create a master cheat sheet to use on my final. 

This was a cheat sheet that I made for my Freshman Level Introduction to Engineering Lecture Class

In classes where cheat sheets aren’t allowed, I find it best to study with friends! Some of my friends and I all invested in good whiteboards (I would definitely recommend this to anyone of any major coming to college). When exam time comes around, we’re able to rework problems with each other on the whiteboards. This is an essential tool for Exam Week for me.

Studying Sophmore Year for Statics with Friends!

While finals are extremely stressful, Hope does an amazing job incorporating stress-free fun into the crazy week. There are activities such as meditation/deep breathing, yoga, therapy dogs and Brinner throughout the week. Brinner is by far my favorite Exam Week tradition. The Hope Dining staff flips Phelps Dining Hall into breakfast chaos from 9-11pm one night of Exam Week. The salad bar turns into a donut bar, with more donuts than I have ever seen in one place at one time. The Globe has faculty and staff mixing up smoothies. Every other station, composed of professors, the president, and RDs, serving breakfast (pancakes, sausage, eggs, waffles, bacon…etc.) to students. Phelps is so busy there is barely anywhere to stand! I love Brinner and so does the rest of the student body!

Brinner with Drew and Abby who were goofing off as I was trying to take a picture of my very yummy Gluten-Free donut

I would be lying if I said that Exam Week was not stressful and busy. Thankfully Hope acknowledges that and provides so many incredible activities to reduce our stress. Without these stress-relieving activities, we would all go crazy. The atmosphere on campus is stressed but playful and excited that the semester is close to finishing up!

How I knew Hope Was The Right Fit

I remember very vividly getting asked multiple times about which school I was going to choose and attend. In fact, I recall that question coming at me in about eight different forms for at least a year. It is a stressful time of life, and deciding on a college is probably the biggest decision a lot of us had to make up to this point in our lives.

However, looking back, choosing Hope College was the best decision of my life. It is easy for anybody to say that about the college they chose, however, Hope College is different than every other college. At the time of deciding on a college during my senior year of high school, I thought I knew why attending Hope would be great. But, after being here for over a year, I can now say that Hope embodies so much more depth and teaches a significantly larger number of life skills than I ever thought I could and would receive from college.

Initially, my reasons for considering Hope included the small school size, and therefore, the reduced class sizes. Along with that, the faculty to student ratio is small, allowing for strong relationships with professors. The academics also include incredibly strong programs, setting us up for great futures. The research is among the top in the nation, pushing us outside of our comfort zones, in which I am learning, is very important for personal growth and preparedness for great lives after our time at Hope. The liberal arts aspect of the college is also beneficial, creating well-rounded individuals. The rate of acceptance into graduate schools and into the workforce is also extremely high. I also knew Hope has kept some old traditions, which I thought would be meaningful to be a part of. Those facts alone initially sparked my interest, but I was wondering what else Hope had to offer.

My friends and I enjoying a Hope College event: Winter Fantasia 2019.

The second I stepped onto campus for my visit day, a feeling rushed through me and was unlike anything I had experienced before. Everyone, and that is not an exaggeration, said “Hi!” or acknowledged me as I passed them on the sidewalk. Further, walking into each building, the friendliness continued. It was not just a normal friendliness either — it was extraordinarily genuine, and the glory of God was certainly present. It was so unique that I still am unable to put it into words. Hope’s community is phenomenal. 

Community. Hope’s tight-knit community is as special and unique as they come. In fact, I do not think I will ever be able to describe it. My sister is an alumni of Hope College and is now at Arizona College of Optometry (again, Hope prepares extremely well for life after college). She was on a hike there and her group ran into two ladies at the top of the mountain who had a question regarding the trail. My sister heard one of those ladies say she was from Michigan. To make the story short, both were alumni of Hope College as well, and one lady said something that stuck out to my sister: “What a special place Hope is.”

All the way in Arizona, people are talking about the special place that Hope College is. I cannot help but think how true that statement is — and how beautiful that, on top of a mountain across the country, positive conversations about Hope College are being had, continuing to connect people, and furthering the excellence that Hope has to offer. This story exemplifies that the magnificence of Hope is part of every past, present, and future student.

Choosing Hope was the best decision I have made thus far in my life, and it is still something that is nearly impossible to put into words. I am confident that in my lifetime I will be able to approach and think through situations more efficiently, work with a wider variety of people, be able to listen and communicate better, and be comfortable with being uncomfortable — pushing myself each and every day, better than I ever would have without my time at Hope College. I cannot say enough great things about this special school and I hope that everyone has the opportunity to attend Hope College.

Finding My People at Hope

Finding your “people” in college was one of the most intimidating things about college. It was a fresh start for me, a fresh start for everyone. I had a lot of questions, things like: 

  • Will I find people who like me and have similar interests?
  • Will I grow in my faith through my friends?
  • Will I find someone who I enjoy living with…(roommates are scary)

It all started the first weekend that I arrived on campus – Orientation Weekend. Right away I was playing games, going on scavenger hunts and meeting as many people as possible. On Sunday of Orientation Weekend, all of the incoming freshmen went to Convocation, a celebration welcoming us into the Hope community. This was the first memory I have of having friends in college. We all lived in the same dorm and the five of us went to Convocation together. Three years later we have made so many memories, just because we walked to Devos for Convocation!

The Convocation Squad

Just by being active in the dorm life in Lichty Hall, I made so many friends during my freshman year. We would all participate in dorm events put on by Residential Life Staff (our RA’s and RD) such as exploring downtown Holland, late-night donut runs and decorating Christmas cookies. 

Exploring Downtown Holland

Flash forward to Sophomore year: a new dorm, new roommates, and harder classes. As an engineering student, I wanted my friends to have similar workloads and still be social. I got the privilege of living in Cook Hall with the three girls that I met as we walked to Convocation. Who knew that the first picture I ever took at Hope would result in three of the best roommates I’ve ever had. The four of us were all busy with school as we were STEM majors but we enjoyed hanging out too. One of my favorite memories was around Halloween. The four of us were employed through Admissions as Overnight Hosts and at one of our group events, we had to wrap each other up in toilet paper like mummies! It was a race against all of the other Overnight Hosts…if you ask me, we totally were the quickest! Even through employment at Hope, I have been able to meet so many amazing people and grow my already existing relationships.

Here I am…wrapped up like a mummy!

Another amazing thing at Hope is getting to meet people from all over the globe. For example, most of my friends are not from Michigan. In the picture below everyone is from a different place. One from Kansas, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and two international students. Within this small group, there are so many incredible stories, ideas and viewpoints to be discussed. This is applicable throughout all of Hope. Everyone has a unique story and you grow together through your stories.

My Friends with Big Red at the Beach

Meeting people from other places allows for fun trips, too. For example, I went home with my roommate Abby for a spring break! Home for Abby is Kansas…and it was way more than cornfields and cows. I loved exploring her home, living her life for a week and it only grew us closer together. 

Kansas – It’s more than cornfields and cows!!

College is the time to explore and sometimes that means sending friends off to study abroad. Sweet Emma studied in France for a semester and this was us saying goodbye to her for nine months. While in the moment we were laughing through tears, hearing all of her amazing stories as she came back was incredible!

The final hugs before Emma headed to France

Hope has not only given me a close friend group to live life with but additionally given me a wide variety of friends. I love going off-campus and running into Hope students. One of my favorite spots is a climbing gym right off of campus. All of the Hope students in this picture share the same hobby as I do, bouldering! We climb together and grow together. We hold each other accountable and have a fun time while getting stronger! 

Bouldering is fun!

I could go on and on about the amazing communities there are at Hope. Everyone finds their people at Hope whether it’s through dorm life, employment, clubs or hobbies. The best part of Hope for me is always meeting new people and hearing their stories. While in this article I have highlighted some of my favorite people, I have left out so many, each with a unique and incredible story.

A Healthier Me At Hope

I came to Hope as a freshman in the fall of 2018 with unbelievable expectations and hopes for what my first year in college would be. I would meet my roommate and become best friends. College, how hard could it be if I managed to get through high school. I thought about the free access to an exercise facility and how I would take advantage of that daily, without excuses. These ideas were some of the ones that laid a foundation for what I thought would be the best year of my life. Needless to say, nothing turned out the way I imagined it to. 

In the process of learning about what my new home could offer me, I came across struggles I didn’t expect. The first came early on in my first semester. 

During my first week as an official college student, the girl who I hoped to share the next four years with, decided that Hope College could no longer be her home. She surrendered the opportunity to pursue an education and although I was supportive of her choice and wished her the best, it was very discouraging. For someone who had traveled a thousand miles away from home in pursuit of her faith and a greater education, I felt guilty for not being homesick enough to make a decision like my roommate’s. Due to her decision, I was alone in a room meant for two for the rest of the year. Both my emotional and social health were at risk. 

Taking classes that were tailored to my interests was something I looked forward to. I would work hard and study harder to be the straight A student I always wished to be. Spoiler alert: this was not the case. Although I dedicated as much time as I could to my classes outside of the classroom, it was not enough. The first grade I earned on an exam was disheartening. The second, was a greater disappointment. In addition to this, I was also neglecting my physical health by feeding into habits that seemed the most convenient. My mental and physical wellbeing were deteriorating. 

As the year went by, I began to be aware of the different resources at my disposal. Attending events hosted by the Student Activities Committee, like Coffeehouse on Thursdays, and seeking out friendships in my residence hall and classes fed into my emotional and social needs. Pursuing academic assistance from the Academic Success Center and making the healthiest choices I could contributed to my mental and physical wellbeing. Once I made the choice to play an active role in what Hope had to offer, I felt myself working towards a healthier version of myself. 

Last day of living in my room in Gilmore Hall before going home for the summer.

Since opening my eyes and heart to the community that once welcomed me, I’ve found the emptiness I once felt, be filled. Since then, I have connected with two amazing girls who I now call roommates, worked alongside a professor as a teacher assistant, and volunteered as an orientation assistant to welcome a remarkable group of freshmen. My journey to this point has only enriched my college experience and I could not be more thankful. 

Are You Asking These 6 Questions on Your College Tours?

By Kristin Diekevers ’07, Associate Director of Admissions

Ahhhh, the changing of the seasons. We are less than two weeks from the official start of fall (it’s September 23 if you were wondering), and colleges are back in session. That means many of you are doing yourself the awesome favor of scheduling college visits — seriously, there is nothing you can do to get to know a college better than by visiting.

Colleges are ready with their welcome mats and most tour guides are ready for the typical questions (and if they aren’t, be skeptical). How many students go here? What’s the average class size? Are freshmen allowed to have cars? How are roommates determined? What do students do on the weekends?

Hope College students are on a campus tour.

But you want to be a savvy consumer, right? Dig a little deeper into the college experience and consider asking these 6 questions on every college tour.

  1. What aren’t you showing me? There might be good reasons for limiting what you see — time length of tour, spaces reserved for faculty/staff, building hours, etc. However, it’s worth asking because you might also uncover areas of deferred maintenance or areas of concern for the college. In either case, you might consider circling back to these areas by yourself before you leave the campus.
  2. Take time to smell the flowers. Yes, this is a statement, not a question, but it’s important. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times. How are students interacting with one another? With faculty or staff? With you? What is on the bulletin boards and what signs are hanging up on campus? Are there literally flowers you can smell (hey, there is something to be said for well-kept grounds)?
  3. What faculty or staff member helped you the most your freshman year? How so? People matter. Connections matter. Connected people are generally happier and more successful both in college and in the long-term. Asking this question will help you learn if students make an early and lasting connection with an employee of the college.
  4. How is conflict recognized and addressed on campus? Given our current political climate, I think this is a fair question. College is an important time for young people to further develop conflict resolution skills. We hope they have good examples of people doing this on their college campus at all levels. Is there dialogue or dogmatism? Are there forums or fear?
  5. What was your favorite lecture, arts performance, guest speaker or chapel message this past year? “Bueller?…Bueller?…Bueller?” (If you have not watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, please do so the minute you are done reading this blog. You’re welcome.) Lots of students can listen and comprehend, but are they being inspired? A lasting impression made by a lecture fuels a student’s learning, development and success as a human being.
  6. What would you miss the most if you graduated tomorrow? Why? Make sure you add: “You can’t just say your friends.” This all goes back to how connected to their eventual alma mater they feel. Do they swell with pride in talking about their school and show enthusiasm? Do you get those feels when they share their experience? It’s a good signal you’re making a connection too.

I’ve said to ask these questions on every college tour, but really, these questions could be repeated over and over to any person — faculty, student, staff, administrator, coach — you meet on campus. Your tour guide will have one experience, but if you’re really interested in the college, talk to everyone you meet!

Ready to ask these questions within the Hope community? We’re ready to welcome you! Attend one of our upcoming Anchor Days.

An Anchored Life

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
—Hebrews 6:19

Hope College: a name itself founded in faith, illuminating the hope we have in Jesus. Faith is an evident and encouraging part of life on campus, from weekly services, to Campus Ministries, to student-led Bible studies. The beautiful part about faith on campus is that nothing is stifling or obligatory, but an open invitation for students to either explore or grow their faith. Whether you’re a new believer, a long-time believer, or just looking at possibilities, the conversations you encounter are filled with respect and curiosity. Students at Hope enjoy meeting new people and learning their stories. You’ll probably be asked, “Let’s grab coffee!” at least once a week. Head on over to (the best) coffee shop and you’ll hear discussions like so. Spend 5 minutes in LJ’s and the murmuring buzz will erode into conversations, and you’ll begin to pick out the subjects. “I’ve seen the Lord working in my life this week…” “I’m really struggling, but I trust the Lord…” “Let’s pray over your time there…”

A morning at LJ’s

If you want to grow in your faith, there are numerous ways to get involved. Campus Ministries empowers students to lead Bible studies. You can audition to be on chapel band, or if you’re more tech inclined, you can run sound. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30—10:52, a service is held in our beautiful, castle-esque, Dimnent Chapel. There are no classes during this time, and it’s always so packed that the chapel walls are lined with students and professors. On Sunday nights, the Gathering, our on-campus church service, is held. This is at night so that students can get involved with a church in the community. If you stay an another twenty minutes, you can take part in after-worship, a powerful, energetic, extra time of praise.

Dimnent at Christmas

There are three cottages on campus that are sponsored by Campus Ministries: Pancake House, Waffle House, and Mouw Cottage. The first two houses hold events every month or so filled with pancakes, waffles, fun music, dancing, and good conversation. They are a Hope College staple. Mouw Cottage houses Delight Ministries, a ministry focused on encouraging women in their faith and reminding them the “delight” that the Lord takes in them. To live in one of these houses is an honor, as you are taking on a leadership role on campus.

These are just a few of the ways faith is prevalent on campus, and there are many more pockets of individuals gathering to worship the Lord or encourage and walk alongside each other.

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!