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.

Other Posts In This Series

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.

Life is about the moments that matter

I figured out a while ago that I should spend my life solving problems and so I’m pursuing engineering. While engineering isn’t easy, many pursue it in hopes of entering their field of work right after college.

That was me, for like the first week of my freshman year. I quickly figured out, though, that I wanted to pursue engineering in a different way when I joined the Hope Entrepreneurial Institute (HEI) mentorship program.

I always thought that the “entrepreneur” label was only reserved for those who could sell a revolutionary new product, but it’s not. It’s for everyone that believes they can provide something better, faster, cheaper, or all of the above. I found myself fitting into this community because as an engineer, I strive to create solutions for a world in need.

I always thought that the “entrepreneur” label was only reserved for those who could sell a revolutionary new product, but it’s not.

Student looking at computer. Going into my junior year, I have completed both my mathematics minor and my Spanish minor.  With the time I have remaining to finish my Biomedical Mechanical Engineering major, I have also decided to pursue problems not only as an engineer, but also as a Hope Entrepreneurial Institute Fellow to solve problems in a more immediate way.

We have meetings with our HEI mentor, Matt Gira, a 2016 Hope grad, from Fathom every other Wednesday at Start Garden in Grand Rapids. All HEI teams come together there so that we can go through team-by-team to see how every team is doing, what needs improvement, and what every team would need to grow. I believe that the mentorship aspect of HEI is most definitely a key asset to what makes this program incredibly successful. It allows mentors to guide newcomers along a proven path, saving time and money by avoiding common mistakes.

My close friend, Timothy Doorenbos,Graphic explaining how Honey Batcher software works. and I have spent the last few months at Start Garden developing and refining a software we’ve developed called Honey Batcher, a computer program specifically created to save precious time in postproduction for event and wedding photographers. As the user experience (UX) designer, my role is to dissect the modern photographer’s workflow to make improvements for the future. This includes conducting in-person and online interviews with our target market in order to solve their problems and fulfill their needs. Timothy is the temporary lead developer who handles coding and debugging within Java.

David Wang and Timothy Doorenbos receive check from MWest Challenge.We obtained our workspace at Start Garden in April 2018 at the MWest Challenge, a local pitch competition sponsored by West Michigan Colleges and Universities Group with the goal of promoting entrepreneurship and venture creation at the collegiate level. We were awarded first place and received a $5,000 grant and six months of unlimited access to a work space at Start Garden. Red Bull has also been an influence in our space, from providing free product to getting us connected with their local interior designer to help us optimize our workspace. This workspace is also home to two other teams from Hope College that competed in the MWest Challenge.

Student is coding software.Neither Timothy or myself are native entrepreneurs. But with my engineering major and Timothy’s computer science minor, we’ve both been able to use what we learned in our respective fields to put together what is called a “minimum viable product” — that is, we’ve been able to develop a solution-based product that is sufficient enough for early adopters. From here, we can continue to work and refine, or outsource labor if time demands it.

I’m an engineer first, but I believe that being an entrepreneur helps me be a better engineer because I feel that I can solve problems in a much more immediate way…

So, now what? Do I drop everything as an engineer and become an entrepreneur? Not quite. I’m an engineer first, but I believe that being an entrepreneur helps me be a better engineer because I feel that I can solve problems in a much more immediate way in a startup model rather than jumping on the corporate conveyer belt. But, I’ll be honest with you and myself: I’ll be jumping on the corporate conveyer belt sooner or later.  Wherever I go, I’m sure I’ll find myself at the doorstep of another problem in need of solving.

If you’d like to learn more about Honey Batcher or see how Honey Batcher can help speed up your photography workflow, go to gethoneybatcher.com for more details.

A Liberal Arts Education

Going into the college search, there were a lot of things I didn’t know. There seemed to be a whole new vocabulary of words and terms that applied to college that I didn’t have prior knowledge of. One of those terms was liberal arts. From the word itself and how it was used I began to build my own understanding of it, but it wasn’t until I was at Hope experiencing Liberal Arts for myself that I began to really understand and appreciate a Liberal Arts education.

I was always told that liberal arts was essentially a school were you had to take classes that weren’t for your major. That is all I really understood though. It didn’t make sense to me why anyone would choose to take classes that weren’t for their major or why someone would choose to go to a school that required them to do that. I remember talking to many friends who all had different views on liberal arts schools. Some preferred them, and some were avoiding them. This all just made me more confused though and harder to make up my own mind. I ended up deciding on Hope with that still confused idea of what a Liberal Arts education was.

Specifically, for me as a psych major, I feel that the way the Liberal Arts education has benefited me the most is through allowing me to explore a little to see what it is I am passionate about. I came in as a Psych major thinking I wanted to get into child psychology. I began to hear more about Social Work though and became really interested in it. I took a few Social Work classes but in the end, I decided that Psych was still a better fit for me, and I wasn’t even setback for having tried those classes. I was very conflicted before I took the classes though, and I think that, had I not been given the chance to explore, I would have continued my major with doubts about whether or not I was in the right place. Thankfully, a Liberal Arts education has allowed me to be confident in my decisions.

I’ve been at Hope for two years now, and it has become a lot clearer to me what a liberal arts education is and how it can benefit me. A Liberal Arts education primarily works at giving me a well-rounded education. I feel more confident in my abilities in all different areas and disciplines and not just in my major. A Liberal Arts education has shown me the connections between different disciplines helping me to get a broader and more creative view of my own major while also helping me to understand others and what they are working towards in their majors. I am grateful for having fallen in love with a liberal arts college even though I didn’t know what that meant at the time. I am only half way through, and I already see the rewards from my decision.

The Philosophical Space

There are many spots on campus to study, hangout with friends, or simply be by yourself when you need to focus for an exam coming up.  Students at Hope are usually very good at being able to find their “spot” within the first few weeks of being on campus.  For me, there is one place that I am able to be social, studious, or alone if I wanted – Lubbers Hall.

Lubbers Hall is home to the humanities and being a philosophy major,  I was exposed to Lubbers as soon I got to campus.  During my first year at Hope, most of my classes were in Lubbers Hall and since I spent so much time there I even found hidden rooms most students aren’t aware exist.

Inside Lubbers Hall there is a lounge specifically for Philosophy students.  The room has a small couch, two comfortable armchairs, a small table, and a library shelf with books written by the best philosophers.  It is the perfect set-up for group work, individual studying, or some leisure reading. The room was big enough for us to have multiple study sessions in there and we would we able to have a good time whenever we needed a break – ordering food on a particularly late night study session started to become the norm. We began to spend so much time there that we even befriended the campus safety officers who would come and unlock the door for us – if you’ve been on campus, you realize how just about everyone on campus is overly friendly or willing to help.

Hope has a place for everything. Whether you want to strictly study (places like the library), do group work (anywhere on campus), or socialize (again, anywhere on campus), there will always be a spot for you to go to. You might also find that spot that you can have all three and that’s when you know you’ve found a home.

May Term Mems

Pine Ridge, South Dakota 

One of the unique academic experiences that Hope College offers students is to study over the summer months through May, June and July terms. For many Hope students, this is a chance to travel or spend some more time in lovely Holland and build a deeper community with the members of one class.

In May 2016, myself, a group of Hope women and an extraordinary Religion professor packed into a twelve-passenger van and drove off into the Badlands of South Dakota. Our goal was to engage and learn about the Oglala Lakota Tribe on Pine Ridge Reservation. As the professor mapped out the ride, we took turns sleeping and passing snacks as we anticipated the adventure ahead. What would the third poorest county in the country look like? What work would we be doing to help a culture with such a long history of oppression? What would the Natives think of such a strange group of Midwestern college students walking through their shops and communities?

Prior to the trip, the class met for three hours in the morning for a week in Holland to prep ourselves for the journey. My professor, Dr. Hoogerwerf, opened his doors to us and a couple of us stayed with him and his wife for the entire week. We had night chats over dinner and rode together to class in the mornings. Our side of the deal instead of rent was to babysit grandson Miles, which was never a problem. We learned about the history of the Oglala tribe and the tragedies committed to Native Americans by Colonial militias and American forces in United States History. The Lakota Tribe was forced on reservations like Pine Ridge and taken from their sacred Black Hills that now contain four faces of American presidents carved side by side. My favorite book we read was called Neither Wolf Nor Dog written by a white man who interviews Lakota Indians on the reservation and records their stories. There were many experiences on the trip that have some of the top memories of my Hope experience so far. To keep this story short, I’ll talk about my top three:

Volunteering with Remember

Our housing for the trip was offered by a nonprofit organization working with the Oglala Lakota tribe called Remember. The organization focuses on helping members of the community by building outhouses, skirting trailers, gardening and other hands-on immediate needs and relief. Meanwhile, as students, church groups, and other volunteers offer their time and skills Remember educates visitors about the tribe’s troubling past, but more importantly their rich culture. They also employ members of the tribal community to speak in the evenings and share their stories with guests. I loved meeting the speakers and hearing their experiences.

Cheesin’ after hiking the Badlands

Hiking with Ineila

Professor Dr. Hoogerwerf

One such speaker at Remember has had a relationship with our professor for years. He offers year after year to lead a hike through the Badlands and share with us the discoveries left behind by World War II machine guns and the critters that lived there before. The Badlands were formed by a salt-lake that dried up and left behind fossilized turtle shells and neat patterns of dirt and rocks. It’s a beautiful hike — but an even greater look into why the tribe treasures the land taken from them.

The group hiking through



We did it!
Ineila (our guide) and Rachel looking at turtle shell fossils





Sweat Lodge

My all-time favorite moment of our trip was also the moment I wished I could dive into a pool of ice cubes. Sweat Lodge is a traditional ceremony that “cleansed” the soul and when the men of the tribe would meet with Wakan Tanka (their deity). Another speaker at Remember, lead us through this ceremony and shared his sacred songs. The heat was intense and all twelve of us sat together under a dome made of animal skins and blankets surrounded by hot rocks that sizzled with the humidity of the air. We were also invited to share a meal with them and we sat in their trailer eating soups out of spare cups and bowls. The way they opened their arms to us was a unique and genuine gesture, and it reminded me of the way the church should also open its arms.

Example of what a lodge looks like

These memories have driven my studies back at Hope and will continue to shape my future goals. I love to fix myself in new cultures and learn from stories there. I would encourage students to volunteer and travel in their time at Hope. If not for a semester, then for a May, June, or July Term. If not for these then go on an immersion trip through Campus Ministries! There are many ways to travel, serve and learn from others and the opportunities are plentiful at Hope.

Learn Lakota: “Mitakuye Oyasin” – we are all related



Hope College Nursing

By: Noemi Rocha

As a kid, I would equate nursing school with a trade school. I always pictured the hospital beds and learning the necessary technical skills, but not much else. My Hope experience has been completely different than I imagined and incredibly worthwhile.

If I’m being completely honest, I didn’t know I wanted to be a nurse until my senior year of high school. I came to Hope believing I wanted to do nursing, but then there were days where I thought I had changed my mind. However, the approach and effort Hope takes to create wonderful and capable nursing students is what made me stay. I still remember sitting in Anatomy Lab and holding a human heart for the first time. I had this moment where I paused and was just amazed at the intrinsic design the human body has. Every part has an important function.

My first two years at Hope had a nursing focus, but I felt like any other student. I took prerequisite courses for the nursing program, but for the most part, I was taking a lot of different courses as well. I believe this time to explore different topics is imperative to shaping who you are and how you perform in a career. In my freshman year, I was part of the, Phelps Scholars Program, a living-learning community, that focuses on exploring different cultures and ideas and I loved it. This community gave me a greater understanding of cultural competency and as a nursing student, we’ve explored the concept of cultural competency in previous courses. Although the Phelps Scholars Program wasn’t centered on nursing at all, I still found a way to apply my learning to my future career.

I’m currently in my junior year and in my Psychiatric Mental Health Theory and Practicum Rotation. All of the nursing rotations are a half semester and include many different hospitals with different specialties. The group is about 7 – 8 students to one professor and the real-world learning truly begins. Each clinical will visit the hospital for 8 hours on Monday night and again on Tuesday morning. I’ve been able to gain both the necessary experience and confidence throughout this first clinical, which is necessary to be a good nurse. Recently, I had a moment where I truly realized that the patients we are working with are real. I knew that going in, but I don’t think I understood the gravity of what it actually meant. It’s an honor to be able to enter into their life for a moment and provide the best care we can.

My one piece of advice for a new nursing student – or any student looking to come to Hope –  would be to continue learning. Nobody is ever completely knowledgeable on every topic. Trust me, the knowledge of how to be an effective nurse will come with time, but what you spend your time on outside of the classroom is also important. At Hope, I have the opportunity to attend lectures that a variety of groups & organizations offer, typically on topics that are flooding the media. The intent is never to choose a side, but to listen to different sides, understand new perspectives and continue to learn and question ideas. Never stop listening. It is how we understand people. When we can understand a person, we can provide care. Similarly, if a patient feels heard by the nurse, they are more willing to trust the nurse and become completely honest. A patient that is honest will receive better care than one who is not.

My perspective of what a nurse does has completely changed from how I used to think about it. Yes, it’s important to learn and know the technical side, but there is so much more than that. I have gained so much respect for nurses and I cannot wait to become one myself. The nursing program at Hope is challenging, but it equips students to jump into the field once they are finished with their four years. I will be ready and so will you.

Can’t you just tell me?: Musings on Being Undecided

By: Alley LoPrete

One of the most daunting parts of choosing a college for me was wondering if I would make the right choice. How do I know my school is the right one? It brought me back to middle school dreams of my future husband and asking my mom “How do you know he is the ONE?” So, I chose a school where I could find lots of options; Hope College. Perfect! I found a liberal arts school where I can take classes in multiple areas to fit all my interests. It wasn’t a cop-out. Rather, I felt that Hope College would help me stay well rounded and flexible so that I could do all the things I love for four more years.

As a result, my schedule freshman year was a melting pot for my mind:  Basic Painting: yes I love to be creative! Encounter with Cultures: awesome, I love learning people’s stories!, Communication: nice, this is an important skill. Then, the most terrifying email came into my inbox from my advisor. The subject line: DECLARE A MAJOR! A major, as in one subject, one degree, one department. Here I was faced with another choice and I was again too overwhelmed with ideas to make it. My biggest fear was that I would choose a career path that I would tire of, or that my degree would limit me later in life. I also felt that I needed to choose a major that would follow God’s calling for me. Thus, I was forced to turn inward and reflect on what I knew about myself.

This reflection was a large part of my First Year Seminar at Hope and through the class and the Career Development Center I took a StrengthsQuest test. This test is aimed at finding your top strengths through a series of self-reflection questions. Everyone passes this test and ends up with your top five strengths! Mine are: Includer, Adaptability, Connectedness, Empathy, Achiever. These traits pointed to a career in relationship building, so I signed up for a sociology class the next semester. Turns out, I love the social sciences and particularly the study of communities.

I also met with a religion professor after taking a religion course freshman year. I learned about all the careers that one can have in studying humanities and realized how options grow based upon your passions. I also read a book called Acts of Faith in my First Year Seminar class and I learned how much religion effects the world and how the social justice elements of my faith could be used for a greater good. I soon realized that my passions for serving others could be built into what I study at school. I can work for a nonprofit, serve, and still make a living.

In the end, I changed my major at least three times and ended up with not one, but two majors: Sociology and Religion. Through mentors, resources and experiences in the classroom my interests were channeled into potential jobs and the majors to go with. I am now looking forward to attending Seminary or Graduate school and working as a chaplain or for a nonprofit in the future. Even within my majors, I do not feel limited as I feared. In attending a liberal arts school, I can still go in and out of departments and continue learning! But, I do know now that my future is bright and I have a direction for my studies and a plethora of job options in the future.

Here are some points of advice that I will leave you with:

  • Reflect on your life experiences and what brings you joy: these often help you determine what you want to pursue doing in the future, because you loved them in the past.
  • Use your resources: family, friends, mentors, career centers and advisors, Strengths Quest and more can help you make good choices and consider more options that you may know about now.
  • Step out of comfort zone: your major may not be the most practical initially, but in talking to professors and doing research you may find more career possibilities.
  • Mix it up: Try out different classes, go to lectures outside your major. You may run into a topic you didn’t know you had a passion for and may end up with a minor!
  • Think of others: Everyone is given skills that are unique, think about how you will not only be helping yourself in choosing a major, but also keep in mind how what you’re studying can help others as well.

The Phelps Scholars Program

By Monica Teuthorn

Before I started my freshman year, college seemed like a foreign place. I didn’t have a ton of experience with it as I was one of the first in my family to really go away to a college like Hope. I had no idea what to expect. College seemed intimidating thinking about academics, research, internships, and more. I was moving to a new state to live with people I didn’t know, compounded the anxiety I already had about the academics and starting over, but thankfully I found the Phelps Scholars Program.

The Phelps Scholars Program is a living-learning community for incoming freshman. Now, I know what you’re asking yourself, and no it is not a scholarship nor is it an honors program. It is for anyone! The program focuses on diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness. Everyone in the program takes the same First Year Seminar course and everyone does some volunteering for the first semester. One of the coolest parts is that you get to go to fun trips on some weekends for free with the group. Each trip also comes with a different ethnic cuisine that is also free! The food is a huge bonus! One of my favorite trips was to a Powwow in Grand Rapids. It was the very first trip we had for the year. We got to go to their social gathering and experience everything from the food to the ceremony to the music. That was one of my favorite trips, because apart from being the first one of the year, it was very interactive. Not only did we get to observe how that tribe practiced, but they also allowed us at times to join the circle in a respectful way. I saw many students experiencing this culture for the first time with all different reactions, but all giving me a greater respect for my own Native American heritage. This trip ignited my passion for learning and experiencing other cultures, but that was just the beginning. There were so many more trips that taught me so much about myself and the world around me. More than just learning and experiencing these different cultures, this program offers a community for freshmen.

Sure the class is interesting, I love volunteering, and the trips are super fun, but honestly the best part of the program is the community it builds and the people in it. Think about it. This community tends to create such great bonds because you spend so much time with the people involved. You even live with them!  The best part is that this program intentionally brings different people together. Everyone comes from different places or backgrounds. This tends to happen in college anyway, but this program is intentional about it. Of course, with these differences comes some conflict or disagreements, but this program teaches you to disagree in a respectful way and learn out of those conversations. It is good to expose yourself to different people and cultures, because after college, wherever you end up, you will be surrounded by all different kinds of people who you will have to work with. This is preparing you to live and thrive in a global society. The other great thing is that you gain friends from all over the world. This program has given me some of my best friends, and I know these are relationships that will last a lifetime!

Find Your Home

By Rourke Mullins, Hope College Senior

Here it is, you’re 18 years old and the moment has come when you are asked (a lot) to answer one of the most important questions of your young life so far: “Where are you going to college?”

It can be daunting question. For me, it created a pit in my stomach. I didn’t know how to navigate my way through this new feeling and the endless amounts of college mail my mom would throw on my desk. I know I am not alone in this. You may be feeling this way too. So, the question really is: How do we answer a question that carries more weight than most of us have ever dealt with before?

Well, to be honest, I actually swung and missed at my first try on this one. I had decided to attend another university for all of the wrong reasons. I choose it because, in reality, it was a cop-out. It was a choice that had the lowest amount of risk and a choice that revolved around things that did not matter. I quickly realized this and had to force myself back to square one and ask again, “Where am I going to college?” This time, the once impossible and scary question now seemed so clear. I am going to go home, I decided. But not back where I grew up home but to a place where I feel at home. When I thought in this way, that’s the moment when my college decision changed for me.

First, I made a list of all the reasons why I loved home. Some of them were comfort, peace, and the feeling of being wanted. I took on my new college search with clear eyes and a heart that was looking for this new home that I was so hungry for. By the grace of God, I was led to this small liberal arts college in West Michigan called Hope. It is a place where you walk down the street and are able to say hi to your friends, or complete strangers; a place where you can get incredible coffee and have conversations that will change your life forever; and, a place that holds you close during dark times and celebrates good times. It’s a place that I now call home. A place where I feel comfort, peace, and the feeling of being wanted.

Here I am 3 years later looking  back on my experience and what a journey it has been. So if you are in the place that I was in, scared by the thought of where you will attend college, I encourage you to change your perspective. Allow yourself to look at colleges not as a place you will be leaving your home to go to, but as a place where your next home will be. For me, I have found a home in Hope.