Working Student

Often balancing school and a social life is enough. There is already a packed schedule of homework and friends that is swarming over your head. So how do you manage this with a job? Do you need a job?

Busy Schedule

When life is buzzing around you it can be hard to find time. Any time at all, that is. So, when someone brings up the idea of working a job in your current state you can’t help but laugh. Incoming money isn’t bad, it can be relatively reassuring, but if it creates stress then what’s the worth?

You’ll have to analyze your abilities and availability before committing to anything. You could find you have more time than you realized, or you could find you have no time. Either is fine, but it will affect whether or not you could comfortably get an on-campus job.

When I got into my sophomore year of college I found that I had more time and more leniency in my schedule. So, I began looking for a job, something to occupy that free time while keeping me social. I found the applications for the Klooster Writing Center and jumped on that. Because I wanted to make the most of my college experience, I wanted to find a job in a field I knew I would enjoy. As a Creative Writing Major, I knew editing was something I enjoyed and was good at.

Benefits of Working On-Campus

Right away, I found community at my work. I found other students who could relate to struggles I was going through, or who would celebrate with me all the good happening. My job helped me to find more people to connect with, especially since COVID was still on the rise at the time.

My boss became someone I could confide in and find help with. I would make meetings to go over my own papers, or just to talk about something that was causing me stress. They are now a mentor for me, a reference for applications and an adult I can trust.

There is so much community at Hope just waiting for you to join in. You never know who you might meet or what you might get the opportunity to do if you don’t try. Yet, this is not a push towards the idea that “you have to get a job.” You can find community wherever you are. But, branching yourself out and trying things won’t hurt. If you find you have extra time, apply to a job with a friend, or just apply on your own and be open to meeting new people.

Overall, jobs at Hope are available and open to all students. I do believe that applying for jobs and working on campus is a beneficial way to make money while expanding your college community. There are so many interesting people at Hope that you will get the chance to meet and work with. Who knows, maybe you will find that the job you have on campus is an area you want to pursue when you graduate.

Three Reasons Why I Chose Hope College

When I walked onto Hope’s campus the summer before my senior year of high school, I could feel it was different than the other schools I’d toured. Despite my wonderful visit, it took me until spring break of my senior year to officially commit to Hope. When I finally came to this decision, my mom told me she’d known I would pick Hope all along. “I could tell by the way your eyes lit up on the first tour,” she said, “that this would be it for you.” Still, it had taken me eight months to officially make the decision. I didn’t want to choose my college based just on a feeling, after all; I wanted to make the most informed choice I could. Here are three factors that helped me decide that HOPE was the place for me.

a photo from my first visit to Hope in August 2021

1. Class Environment

My experience with COVID and online schooling in sophomore and junior year of high school helped me realize how much I value the traditional classroom experience. Knowing my classmates and teacher by name, and being known in the same way, impacts the way I engage in the learning process. Knowing this about myself helped me narrow down the 5 colleges I’d applied to as I realized that I didn’t want to go to a school where I’d always be a number in a lecture hall. I wanted to be at a school where my professors would notice (and care!) if I wasn’t in class. I chose well – in every class I’ve been in, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with the professor on some personal level. I’ve had professors send emails just to check in on me, or say hi to me when I walk past them in the dining hall or downtown. It’s very clear that Hope faculty are holistically engaged in their students, and that’s something that I’ve been grateful for through my time here. I want to know and be known, and academics are set up in such a way that this is not only possible, but also the norm.

2. Size and Location

My decision to come to Hope was also influenced by its location and size. To me, Hope isn’t too small or too big. If I go somewhere on campus or downtown, I typically run into a few people I know and a few I don’t. I’ve found this in-between to be perfect. I don’t just blend in, but I also don’t know everyone. Every semester so far, I’ve made new friends in classes or clubs.

I also love the location of Hope. It’s about an hour away from my house (not too close and not too far). Even for my friends that have come here from farther away, the small-town feel of Holland became home much quicker than a large and unfamiliar city might. Hope’s size and Holland’s location and feel were a huge factor in my decision making process.

3. Faith Formation

Coming from a public high school education, I’d always been surrounded by nonbelievers in the academic setting. Some moments of my education were definitely difficult for me because my values didn’t align with everyone else’s. Still, I didn’t exclusively apply to Christian colleges.

When I visited Hope, I was enthralled, imagining what it would be like to worship in chapel alongside classmates and professors. I loved the thought of having a faith community at my school, and I also loved that absolutely nothing was required. Every student personally chooses to be involved in Campus Ministries, the Gathering, or Bible Studies, which means that spaces of intentionality are cultivated. I knew that college would be a formative time for my faith, so I chose this people of Hope that would commit to running towards God alongside of me.

If you’re a senior right now, I feel you. The college decision making process is daunting and even burdensome. To me, Hope felt right… yet it took me months to say it out loud and actually commit to it. My hope is that considering aspects such as classroom environment, location, and faith formation will help you feel more confident in your decision making process. I’m so deeply grateful that God brought me here, to this school, and I’m confident that He can and will lead you to the right place as well.

Adjusting to Holland

I can’t wrap my head around the idea that Holland feels small to some people. To me, as someone who grew up in a small Upper Peninsula town, it feels almost limitless. It has so much that my hometown doesn’t have, such as a freeway (seriously, there are no freeways in the Upper Peninsula). This means that even though I’m still in the same state, it feels like I’m in a whole new world sometimes. Needless to say, I’ve had to adjust a lot to life in Holland. Here are some of the changes that took me by surprise. 

One Way Streets

I’m convinced that there are more one way streets in Holland than the rest of the United States combined. I’m sure there’s a reason for why there are so many, but that doesn’t stop it from being confusing, especially for someone new to the area. Navigating Holland can be tricky at first, but it gets easier. I’m as bad with directions as they come, but I still found myself learning where all the one ways are so they can’t surprise me anymore. 

Walkable Downtown

Many people cite Holland’s downtown area as one of their favorite things about going to Hope, and it’s easy to see why. It has a lot to see and do, but it’s nearby and you don’t need a car to go anywhere (so you can avoid the one-ways). A downtown like Holland’s wasn’t something I had experienced before coming to Hope. Since I quite literally live in the middle of the woods, I’m used to taking a 10-20 minute drive to go anywhere. This newfound ability to walk to pretty much any kind of store I could dream of was a little intimidating to begin with, but I’ve managed to adjust. Now I look forward to weekend downtown outings with friends, and I don’t even need to drive to get there. 

So Many Squirrels, so Few Deer

Hope’s squirrels are nothing short of iconic. Since they’re so beloved, I knew that I’d be encountering them quite a bit while living in Holland. However, a month after beginning college, I had a startling realization: I hadn’t seen any deer in a month. While I wouldn’t expect deer to want to hang around a college campus, it wasn’t something that I had anticipated changing. If you’ve ever been to the Upper Peninsula, you know that deer are everywhere. I’ve seen deer in my yard, on the roads, and even trying to walk inside my high school. So even though Holland is far from lacking in wildlife, Holland’s absence of deer was still an unexpected culture shock. 

Even though there have been plenty of culture shocks, Holland has slowly become familiar to me. Now when I’m at Hope, I feel less away from home and more at my home away from home. If Holland feels intimidating to you now, just know that it won’t always be that way. Even if Holland is the complete opposite from what you’re used to, it will become comfortable eventually. 

Going Global at Hope

Hope College prides itself on being a campus with a global focus. Just recently was Going Global Week, hosted by the Center for Global Engagement. The week held a number of events to provide information about other cultures and the opportunity to engage therein – everything from an International Food Fair to a photo contest from time abroad. Whether the week is designated for “going global” or not, though, students at Hope are perpetually taught how to take on the perspectives of others. Liberal arts classes, multicultural worship in chapel, immersion trips, and opportunities like study abroad make this possible. I personally haven’t studied abroad during my time at Hope, though I’ve been playing with the idea of a May term in the future. I have, however, been a firsthand witness to friends that study abroad and come back transformed. Hope makes it easy to “go global,” and they walk with you through the process.

my friend Maia studied abroad this past summer in Germany, and traveled around Europe as well. (photo courtesy of Maia Travis)

Many of my friends, as second year students, are just now going abroad or planning to do so during junior year. Even when their trip was more than a year out, the Off-Campus Study office was able to support them. One friend isn’t planning to go abroad until next spring, but has been meeting pretty regularly with the office since our freshman year. She comes back from the meetings raving, always feeling more comfortable and confident in the next steps she needs to take towards her time off-campus.

Tuition and Financial Aid

One perk about studying off-campus during a semester at Hope is the cost-effectiveness. Typically, cost is similar to the regular tuition price of a semester at Hope and your eligible financial aid transfers for one semester abroad. Beyond this similar pricing, there’s a number of scholarships that students can apply for. Hope wants to make study off-campus possible for all students that are interested. Students can do internships abroad, take courses specific to their major, or finish up gen-eds.

The beautiful thing about studying abroad at Hope is that there’s really something for everyone. The off-campus website details more than three hundred program opportunities that students can take part in whether for a semester, a full year, or a summer term. Both the Off-Campus Study office and students’ academic advisors are more than willing to walk alongside students and help them discern a path amidst this myriad of options.

New Perspectives

I’m in a senior level Spanish class, and on the first day of the semester my professor asked: “Who just got back from studying abroad?” About two thirds of the class raised their hand – a showcase of just how normal it is to spend time abroad at Hope. At least once a week in Spanish class discussions, my classmates incorporate their experiences into class conversation. It’s easy to see that these students have been shaped and stretched by their experiences abroad, and their experiences are able to affect us as a class, too.

In chapel, chaplains often say that college is a “conversation” of minds and perspectives. Off-campus study and the opportunity to “go global,” is an enrichment of that conversation. As such, it’s something that Hope wants to make possible for as many students as they can.

Undergraduate Research at Hope College

Among institutions across the nation, Hope College has received recognition and high rankings for the research opportunities that the College offers students. For instance, Hope “is one of only 54 colleges and universities including Yale, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and Michigan, recognized for providing outstanding undergraduate research/creative project opportunities.” 

For me, participating in research has bolstered my undergraduate experience. From receiving mentorship from professors to working closely with a team of peers to employing hands-on skills, research has strengthened both my understanding and my passion for my areas of study. It has fostered an environment of inquiry, curiosity, and excitement all the while forging an engaging and collaborative academic community outside of the classroom. 

As a student combining studies in both biology and business, I have been able to experience research within both disciplines during my time at Hope. For example, I am a student researcher within the biology department where I work within a team of five other students that is led under the mentorship of a professor in the department. As such, we get the opportunity to directly impact and assist in the research path of our professor. In doing so, our work seeks to extend and contribute to the biological community. Not only do we work within the lab, but we also get the opportunity to present our research at conferences, including one hosted by the College called the A. Paul and Carol C. Schaap Celebration of Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity (CURCA). Students can even choose to dedicate a portion of their academic credits toward research, and they can work over the summer too in the department. 

Through my involvement in Hope College’s Center for Leadership consulting, I’ve had the opportunity to tap into research through an economics and business lens. The program is designed for students to work within a team of four peers with a student lead and a coach with a background in the industry. Some projects even include a subject matter expert. Together, the team serves a paired client that is a current operating company within the industry. As a result, I’ve been able to gain new professional and research skills through this program, serving in a similar way to business internships. Interestingly too is that many of my projects with clients have even incorporated both of my majors, enabling me to employ my holistic research formation and passions in both biology and business.    

These are just a few of the ways to become involved in research on campus. I am grateful for the unmatched formation I have received by partaking in research experiences across my diverse areas of study. 

Springtime in Holland

Springtime in Holland is like no other.  Don’t get me wrong, I love coming back to school in the fall, and the first snow is absolutely magical.  Still, there’s just something about the first few warm days on campus that have a special air to them. Here are my top five aspects of springtime in Holland.

1. Classes Outside

One day last week, temperatures got up to about 65 degrees in Holland. This is absolutely unheard of for a Michigan February. On this day, my professor let us have class outside. This is pretty common for classes at Hope. When the sun is shining in early spring, you’ll walk past classes having discussions in the Pine Grove or at the picnic tables outside of Phelps Dining Hall. Thanks to small class sizes, this is such a unique experience that professors provide because they truly care about their students holistically, and understand the appeal of sunshine! For me, our time outside last week was definitely my favorite session of class!

2. People in the Pine Grove

I still remember the first warm week of my freshman year. It felt like everyone was in the Pine Grove: hammocking, playing spike ball, or eating picnic dinners. This was my favorite week of freshman year, and as the weather gets warmer I’m finding that a similar sentiment is surfacing. A walk through the Pine Grove on a warm day will bring you face to face with at least a handful of friends. Everyone is out and spending time together, and it’s truly one of my favorite parts of life at Hope.

3. Going on Walks

Between our beautiful campus, downtown, and nearby trails, there are plenty of places to walk or run in Holland. This is a reality all year round, but as the weather gets warmer these sites grow more popular. Last week, I went on a sunrise run at Window on the Waterfront. It’s maybe half a mile off campus, and absolutely beautiful (especially as things warm up!). Walking and running in the warmer weather is definitely one of my favorite parts about springtime in Holland.

my sunrise run last week at Window on the Waterfront

4. The Beach

A few nights last week, it seemed like everyone was at the beach. All year long, it’s pretty typical for Hope students to sit in their cars and watch the sunset at Holland State Park. As it gets a little warmer, though, we can actually get out of our cars, walk on the sand, and maybe even touch the water (or Polar Plunge, if you’re brave!). Picnic dinners at the beach become an ever-present possibility as it warms up… what a joy.

5. The Tulips

Holland is known for its annual Tulip Time Festival, which happens near the beginning of May. Through the second half of spring semester, the tulips begin to bud and bloom. Already, I’ve seen some stems sprouting up around campus, which is such a joy. As time progresses, it becomes more and more exciting to see how the tulips are growing. This is a beautiful part of spring semester.

We’ve just reached the midpoint of spring semester, and I’m so thankful that hints of spring are starting to pop up. A taste of warm weather and the promise of tulips are just what I needed to push through until spring break. Spring time in Holland is truly my favorite part of the year. I am so grateful for sunshine, and classes outside. For friends that you run into in the Pine Grove, the beach, tulips, and walks or runs in warm weather. Here’s to the second half of this semester, amidst the budding beauty of a Holland spring!

Navigating the journey of living away from home

With the seemingly dark, dreary, and cold days of ‘swinter’ (spring + winter) amid this point in the semester when days feel longer, mid-winter break is over, and the heap of homework, projects, and exams seemingly competes in height with that of Mount Rushmore, feelings of homesickness inevitably creep in. Especially as a first-year student, it can feel overwhelming and cause you to miss living at home. However, it’s helpful to know that you are not alone, and that there are ways to help ease the anxious feelings of living away from home.  

For me, I think it’s helpful to remember to strive for a positive, growth mindset. For example, while it can be difficult living away from home, especially as a first-year student, it’s important to maintain a healthy perspective. One way to do so is by seeing this stage of your life as a learning opportunity. What can you learn about yourself, how can you care for yourself, and how will you fulfill your responsibilities through living on your own? Unlike living at home where perhaps you depended on the schedules and structures placed upon you, you are now more in control of your days. As a result, in order to balance both your health and responsibilities, I suggest setting a daily and weekly routine for yourself. For instance, a helpful way to accomplish this is by creating a list of daily, weekly, and monthly goals and tasks for yourself in each area of your life. While the lists may feel overwhelming, it helps provide clarity and organization in your life that enables you to feel more confident in your awareness for what lies ahead. In doing so, you are setting yourself up for success and putting pen to paper. With one step at a time, you are able to accomplish your goals and, if nothing else, receive the satisfaction of inscribing a check mark beside a completed task. No matter your personality, everyone needs some structural system to achieve success. 

Additionally, unlike high school classes, you now have more freedom and flexibility in your days with classes being spread out across different time frames. For some, this is exciting while for others this can be overwhelming. No matter where you fall in this, it’s helpful to see your day as a 9am-5pm job. This can look like trying to complete as much as your homework as possible during this time frame. One of the reasons I suggest looking at your days in this way comes with my next point: the importance of prioritizing your sleep. While this may seem obvious, sleep is critical. In college especially it can be easy to adjust your normal sleep schedule and thus fall out of the optimal sleep pattern. However, getting sufficient sleep will only allow you to perform at a higher level and maintain your overall health. 

Other than these important practical tips, feelings of homesickness can still exist and even inhibit your ability to successfully live on your own. While you may be on your own in the sense that you are away from the comfort of your home, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. At Hope College, community exists. From events within residential halls to weekly student-wide activities hosted by Hope’s Student Activities Committee to a myriad of student organizations and everything in between, communities of belonging, fellowship, and fun extend across campus. As a result, I have found that a great remedy for homesickness is to get involved. Not only will this perhaps take your mind off of your anxious feelings, but it will also help you form communities. And in doing so, you’ll be able to connect with others similarly navigating the journey of living away from home. 

What to do when you don’t want to do anything

It’s that time of year again. The skies are gray, the homework is piling up, and the motivation to do anything but sleep is scarce. We’ve all been there. Unfortunately, the reality of college life is that you still have to get stuff done even when you desperately don’t want to. So, here are a few methods I’ve found that help me get up and get going. 

Go somewhere that isn’t your dorm

If you’re someone who can be productive in your dorm, that’s great! I am not that person. When I’m in my room, I either end up talking to my roommates, on my phone, or taking a nap. Knowing this, one of my number one tips for dealing with low motivation is leaving your dorm and going somewhere else. It doesn’t matter where. You just need to go somewhere else. By getting a change of scenery, you’re actually doing a lot more than you realize. For one thing, you’re getting outside when you might not have otherwise. Even if it’s just a minute, being outside can improve your mood and motivation levels. You’re also getting some walking in, which can also be helpful. I’ve found that even when I would rather do anything besides what’s on my to-do list, I can usually get something done by getting out of my dorm. 

Get together with friends

Friends are great for getting you motivated and keeping you accountable. Whenever I study with a group I find that I have a lot more fun than if I made myself do it alone. If you have a bunch of friends in the same class, it can be helpful to meet and help each other with what you’re struggling on. But even if you’re all in different classes, you can still help each other. Explaining problems you’re having with assignments or papers to each other can be super helpful, even if the person you’re talking to has no knowledge of the subject. If you get side tracked and end up talking about things that are unrelated to school, it’s still good to be with friends. 

Go to the academic success center

There are times when a change of location or studying with friends isn’t enough, and that’s okay! If you find yourself really struggling to keep up with your schoolwork, Hope’s Academic Success Center is here to help. You can make an appointment with an advisor, get tutoring, or find a group study session for one of your classes. Everything is confidential, so nobody has to know you were there besides your advisor, tutor, or study group. But even though nobody has to know, nobody will judge you for needing help. I’ve had an appointment there and so have a bunch of my friends. When life as a student gets tough, the best thing you can do for yourself is ask for help. 

You got this! No slump lasts forever, even though sometimes it feels like it will. Nobody is at their peak all the time, so you’re not alone. There are ways to beat the winter blues and get things done.

3 Things I Wish I’d Known About Living Away from Home

Before coming to Hope, I knew that living on campus would be a huge part of my college experience but I didn’t know what this entailed. My understanding of living away from home came from Gilmore Girls. If you’re familiar with the show, you know that Rory’s mom Lorelai comes and sleeps over on her very first night in the dorm. Moving away from home can definitely be hard! The systems and culture in place here at Hope ensure that it can also be beautiful. Here’s three things I wish I knew about living away from home:

1) Freedom, Responsibility, and GRACE

Maybe you’ve heard people say they love the freedom of living away from home. Living away from home means that you manage your own schedule. You choose when to sleep and wake up, what to eat, whether you’re sick enough to miss class, and so on. As the great adage says, with great freedom comes great responsibility. It’s important to develop discipline and solid routines when living away from home. I wish I knew that creating these systems would take some trial and error. The planner that keeps me organized is different than the calendar that keeps my best friend on track, and that’s okay! Grace abounds, especially in this transition process as you find out what works for you.

2) Support Systems

The Residential Directors and Residential Assistants in each dorm building are an amazing resource for students navigating the transition to independent living. I have an amazing RA and RD who’ve gone out of their way to create community in our dorm, schedule one-on-ones, and check in on me personally. In every dorm, RAs put on different events such as weekly pancake nights that help students have a home base, even when living away from home. Outside of the dorm, Counseling and Psychological Services and Campus Ministries chaplains are helpful resources that offer support in the transition to independent living. Knowing about the myriad of people that pray for, invest in, and deeply care about students at Hope would’ve put my mind at ease as I imagined what moving to college would look like.

3) Hospitality

I’m from a town about an hour from Holland and I see my family a few times a semester. Some of my friends are from much farther away and only travel home in between semesters. The Hope families my friends and I have met, though, have been incredibly generous. My friends from local cities have hosted us at their houses with home cooked meals. Campus Ministries staff invited my friend group to their house for dinner as we prepped for exams. Local Holland churches also pour into Hope students by hosting meals for us, reaching out, or initiating personal relationships within the congregation. I’m so thankful for the generosity of families that have welcomed me and my friends as their own and made sure we’re taken care of while at school. Between my friends, their families, and the Holland community, I can feel supported at school even when my family isn’t right there.

Last fall, a local friend’s family hosted our immersion trip group for dinner!

Wrapping it Up…

Even away from home, at Hope the reality is that you’re not on your own. Our school has a wonderful residential life staff and a hospitable community that provides support and accountability to college students in this new stage of life.

Living away from home offers both freedom and responsibility. At Hope, it can be a beautiful and grace-filled experience too.

Impending Graduation

For some, graduation is coming up fast and can feel very daunting. Four years of your life are ending, and a new chapter is approaching. How terrifying. I know I personally am a little wary of graduating, even though I have been looking forward to it all year. Four months away now. What do I do until then? How do I make sure I graduate feeling as though I accomplished things? Well, here are some tips from a fellow, worried senior.

Looking Back

This is not a tip telling you to dwell in your past. This tip is meant to help you reflect on what you have already accomplished so far. You made it through four years of schooling, you have finished so many classes and participated in extracurriculars. You have made new friends and met new people.

Sometimes reflecting on the positives of your life can help the future look less threatening. You can see what you have made it through and how hard you have worked to get where you are right now. Without this affirmation, fear can be overwhelming. Not only are you stronger than you think but you have what it takes to approach the future head-on. We are often shaped by what we go through.

I, personally, have had some rough patches while in college: classes that weren’t what I expected, assignments I struggled to get through, relationships that had to end, etc. The list goes on. But, I made it through and now I’m standing in my last semester of college with the confidence that I have what it takes to make an impact before graduation – to do something.

Approach Graduation with Your Head High

You are going to make it. Don’t worry. With four months left there is always time for something to go sideways, but that isn’t something you should be worrying yourself with. Focusing too much on what could go wrong keeps you from seeing what has gone right.

Look around at the time you have left to get more done! Accomplish more, grow more, do more. There is still time, whether it feels like it or not. This is something I have had to learn over the course of my senior year here at Hope. And it wasn’t easy.

I tend to dwell too much on what I haven’t done and what I should’ve done and less on what there is still time left to do. Just because the final countdown has begun, doesn’t mean I just give up on opportunities. This last semester I realized that, due to my overwhelming schedule the past couple semesters, I finally had some time to do extracurriculars. So, my friends and I made an intramural badminton team; I sometimes play pickleball on Saturdays; I go out more; I make an effort to meet new people. This has led me to feel more fulfilled coming into this last semester as I approach graduation.

Don’t Plan too Hard, Graduation will Come Anyway

I’m not saying to not plan at all. Please plan a little to ease your mind, just don’t spend hours fretting over things you can’t control. You can apply for all the jobs and plan all the trips you want, but anything can happen, so don’t worry too much. There is so much joy in living right now, looking briefly ahead, but trying to get the most out of every minute.

Sometimes over-planning can wear us out. Suddenly, there is so much on our plate that we hadn’t planned for coming up to graduation. So, make notes of the most important things you need/want to get done and allow time to do the rest. Don’t fill your free-time double and triple checking your emails in case something new pops up that demands your attention. Enjoy the time you have left in college doing things that bring you joy. You deserve it after these four years of work.