What Are Good and Bad Questions to Ask During the Campus College Visit?

People say that there are no bad questions – which can be true in the classroom – but during a college visit it is not exactly like truth. Let me give you an example. Below is a easy accessible screenshot of the Hope College profile.

Profile of Hope College
Profile of Hope College (source: collegedata.com)
  • How many students are attending Hope College?
  • What is the women/men ratio?
  • What is the cost of attendance?

These are good examples of bad questions because they refer to information which is already very accessible. It shows that the student has not done that much research about Hope College, which also illustrates the level of interest.

On the other hand, here is an example of a good questions:

  • What makes Hope College better than other liberal arts colleges?
  • What opportunities are there for at Hope College for summer research?
  • Does Hope College have a strong alumni network?

It is not about doing hours of research about the college. If one spends about one hour of searching for the basic school information, then the student should have a good idea about the college. Also, I would not give that much credit to reviews of colleges because everyone is different and students visit & attend colleges for different interests and purposes.

Lastly, avoid questions about things which are on the official website or another college profile website. Come with questions which will make the tour guide or college representative think.

What Does It Take to Write an Excellent College Application Essay?

College Essay Topic. It is a dilemma of every student applying to college. Is there a “good” or “bad” topic?

A college essay is a place where the admission representative has a chance to “meet” the applicant more closely. That being said, what is it that make a college essay successful?

A successful essay will reveal something about you that the admissions reader may not have already known, and will show how you interact with family and friends and demonstrate your beliefs or explore your passions.”

In other words, a lot of people write about their activity, beliefs, lessons learned or some sort of story. It is relatively easy to write about something that happened. But the key is to use a passion, relationship or belief to highlight oneself from other applicants through that experience that happen.  To reveal something new about oneself.

On the other hand, here is what to NOT pick for an essay topic.

“ Avoid writing about things like scoring the winning goal, topics of public consciousness like natural disasters, or something that happened to you in middle school. Also, avoid gimmicks like writing in a different language, presenting your essay as a poem, or anything else that is stylistically “out of the box.” Your focus should be on the message rather than the presentation.”

It is too basic and too cliché write about winning goal or for example community service. Yes, it is great that applicant is doing well in sports and contributing to the community, but another thousands people do it as well and. It does not differentiate or make stand out the applicant from others.

Here is great video by Princeton Review that will answer some of your questions about the college application essay.

Key takeaways

  • Perfect college essay does not exist
  • Do not write about what you think that college wants to hear
  • Be yourself, be honest.
  • Honesty about oneself, one’s life, personality and feeling brings uniquest/originality
  • Uniqueness and originality is what makes college essay stand out from others 


Cohen, Kat, Dr. “The Best and Worst Topics for a College Application Essay.”       Noodle. Noodle, 22 Apr. 2015. Web. 04 Feb. 2016.

Overnight Stay at Hope

If you are prospective or admitted student you can spend a night or nights with current student. At Hope we call it an overnight visit. I have done one of those two weeks ago with my friend from Sweden. Unlike from other students, I knew him for two years, so we did not have to break the ice by all kinds of questions, so my jobs was easier from this point of view.

Personally, I was highly interested in what he, as an independent person and first time visitor, likes the most about Hope College and Holland. He stayed with me from Saturday afternoon until Tuesday early morning. I gave him the campus, showed him City of Holland and Windmill Island. Unfortunately, the weather was very unpleasant, so on the way to Windmill Island, the wind was truly strong and cold. He went to two of my classes, ate in the Phelps Dining Hall, and of course he stayed with me in the room, so he experienced a night in the dormitory.

After his experiences and speaking with him, he liked the food, campus, people, and area the most. We had four meals at Phelps and he said that the popcorn chicken here (Hope College) is better than in most of the restaurants that he ate. The scrambled eggs were a favorite as well. He thought that campus was as beautiful as he was expecting based on the virtual campus tour and people were very welcoming and nice. Lastly, he liked the downtown of Holland because it has everything that college student needs in one’s life and it reminded him Sweden little bit.

I think my friend really enjoyed his short stay at Hope College, so if you are thinking of doing overnight stay, then I would highly recommend it.

So You Want to Come to Hope

While lying in my bed over Christmas break I began getting all sorts of notifications from the Hope College admitted student’s Facebook group. This is a group that prospective students for the following academic year are able to access once they’ve received their acceptance letter.

I was instantly brought back to my days as an avid pre-college Facebook group user. First you peruse what everyone else has been posting and asking. You write and rewrite an introduction for yourself five times before deleting it and starting over again. You enthusiastically comment on someone’s post who shares the same hobbies as you, watches the same Netflix series as you, or is from a town nearby your own.

After much reflection, I’ve decided that this feeling is somewhat universal to incoming college students. I still feel somewhat excited myself when I read the posts on the page. However, there are often misconceptions that I believe need to be addressed. These are topics that aren’t always addressed in a Facebook group.

Here are a few that I’ve come up with. Be aware that these are not true to everyone’s thought process, but they likely may be to a lot of students. I’m just here to help out.

You don’t need to be decided on your major.

There’s nothing worse than reading through the posts and seeing that everybody and their mother knows what they’re going to be studying for the next four years of their life. I’ll let you in on a little secret: most of these people will change their minds. That’s right. So get ready to explore, friends! Hope is an awesome place to do so.

Hope College is not camp.

Clarification: Hope is a place of learning that sometimes feels like camp. Before I came to Hope, this place seemed like a June through July dream. There’s worship every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Students can be seen lounging about the Pine Grove in their hammocks when it’s nice out. We even have an Outdoor Adventure Club. Not to mention living in dorms for the first two years of your college experience adds to the camp-like feel. Let’s not forget about our education, whiles still having good, summer-style fun. Living super close to the beach is awesome, but bringing your bio textbook along is even cooler.

Professors aren’t scary.

They’re absolutely not out to get you. In the movies, professors are portrayed as cold, tricky people who want to make you look bad in class. That’s not the case, especially at Hope. Our professors truly care about their students’ well being and success.

Phelps isn’t as bad as people say it is.

Most of the time. I still tell my friends this. While they’re complaining about their grilled chicken and fresh vegetables, other campuses are eating pizza and chicken nuggets for every meal. (Fine, we have that stuff too, but we definitely have better options than some current students make it sound like we do.)

A major doesn’t equal a profession.

Unless you’re going into nursing, pre-med, education, social work, or another pre-professional program, you’re major does not define what you do for the rest of your life. I’m an English major, and there are about eight branches of careers that I can go into, with a plethora of jobs located under each branch. The same thing goes for someone majoring in Biology, Business, French, etc. Try not to let the idea of a major get into your head to much. You’re here to learn skills and a degree that will allow you to be successful in the future, no matter what you end up doing.

That’s all I’ve got for right now. Take each of them with a bit of consideration, but not so much that you’re bogged down by anything I’ve written. The college experience is different for everyone, and that’s pretty special.

Posing by the Anchor at Hope
My friend Katie and I goofing around at the Anchor 🙂

I hope everyone had a relaxing winter break and is settling back into the school/work routine wherever you are.

Thanks for reading,


The Jungle Cats

Last September, when I came for my overnight recruitment visit to Hope, I had no idea what to expect. I had all sorts of emotions, and for the most part, I was very nervous. Long story short, I had a great time, and Hope won my heart over. However, out of all the awesome events that occurred that weekend, my favorite of all was the SAC (Student Activities Committee) sponsored dodgeball tournament.

Playing dodgeball on my Friday night at Hope was never part of the plan. In fact, my overnight host, Toby Blom, got a last-minute call to join the team. As a prospective student-athlete, I’ll never forget what it was like to play dodgeball in front of some of my future peers, in arguably the nicest basketball arena DIII has to offer. To top it off, our team the “Jungle Cats” ended up winning the tournament! My teammates (all juniors at Hope) started a “He’s in high school” chant that echoed through out Devos. It was a great experience!


This past Friday night, I had another chance to play with the Jungle Cats. The only change was that this time, I was the one hosting an overnight recruit! It was so much fun to see the same experience I had last year from a different perspective. It helped that The Jungle Cats, for the third year in a row, won the tournament. We did our best to re-create the champions photo from last years victory with Boone, the goalkeeper recruit who is visiting me this weekend.

 dodgeball 2

I’ll never forget that feeling of knowing Hope was the place for me. Where else in the country can you win a dodgeball tournament on your recruitment visit?

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend, I know I’ll be enjoying mine! The men’s soccer team is taking on Adrian College today at 4:30 at Van Andel. Hoping to find our way back into the top four of the MIAA!

With love,


Reasons Why You Should Go To Admitted Students Day

April 18th is approaching, and there are questions out there about Admitted Student Day, so I thought I would answer them for everyone! If you can’t make it, just remember that it’s completely OK! You won’t lose priority in choosing your roommates and it won’t put you “behind” by any means. What this day is intended for is to give you a taste of what happens at Hope, and it also provides you opportunities to take care of some business!

If you can’t decide whether or not you should come, let this blog post convince you to come. Here are reasons as to why you should come:

1. If you’re committed to coming to Hope, it’s a wonderful excuse to come and explore campus again (or for the first time!) It’s pretty during all seasons, so you might as well get a little taste of what Hope is like in the spring! Exploring Holland can also be advantageous. i mean, you will be living here shortly, so why not explore the town?

2. So many students will be here! It is a wonderful opportunity to meet those who you’ve been in contact with on Hope on Facebook, or just to meet fellow Dutchmen! Maybe you can get your roommate situation settled, or just meet other with your same interests. In addition to other students, important faculty will also be here. President Knapp will be there, and other key Hope faculty that will definitely be an integral part of your Hope College experience!

3. Other than students and faculty, organizations and clubs will also be present during Admitted Student Day! You can meet with clubs you may be potentially interested in joining. And those weirdos whose blogs you have been reading all year will be there, too (myself included!). It’s a great time to ask any questions you have about Hope, transitioning from post-high school life to college, and just any other general questions. (By the way, us student bloggers are AMPED to meet you)!

4. Admitted Student Day is another chance to convene with other with your similar interests, including fields of study. I definitely think this is something to take advantage of. Experts from various disciplines will be present to answer any questions you have, and they also want to meet you!

Here's a cliché Hope College picture. I challenge you take on while you're here!
Here’s a cliché Hope College picture. I challenge you take on while you’re here!

Hopefully, this is enough to convince you! Admitted Student Day is truly a blast. You will be able to get all of questions answered, hopefully making you less nervous! Us student bloggers as well as the entire Hope community are very excited to see you and meet some of you! If you have other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! If you haven’t already, make sure to follow me on both Twitter and Instagram!

P.S., I dare you to take picture with anything Hope and post it on the Hope on Facebook page!

Why You Should Come To Hope {A Student’s Perspective}

Over the past few days I’ve spent some time looking on the Hope on Facebook site for newly admitted students (if you haven’t joined you should) and I’ve noticed a few different things:

  1. all of you look really nice
  2. you’re all willing to share and get to know each other
  3. lots of you are trying to decide between several different colleges

After having this realization, I thought back to my junior and senior years in high school. Choosing a college is a difficult choice to make. After all, you’re going to spend four (maybe five) years of your life there. Many of your close friends will be made at college. And, you want a good education – or your parents want you to have a good education.

So how do you know where you should attend college? Is it the size, the location, the cafeteria, the people, or the academics that are the most important? While all of those things do play a vital role into selection a college, I think that the most important thing to look at in a college are the faculty members.

It’s been my experience at Hope that the professors either make or break a class. Yes, you do have to put in the work, and be willing to study; however, my favorite classes aren’t necessarily because of the material that I learned, but instead, the professor that taught the class.

Meet Tom Smith. He is a professor in the Department of Management, Economics, and Accounting. He enjoys teaching students, building relationships, and candy. Over the past couple of years, I have had the privilege of having Tom as a professor, study abroad faculty leader, and a friend.

Traveling London

Being at Hope has offered me the opportunity to get to know Professor Smith. He’s had an impact on my life that I will never forget. From dinners in Europe, to ice cream parties, to cups of coffee and conversation, he has challenged me to grow and mature – my college experience wouldn’t be the same without knowing him.

If you’re on the fence with two colleges, think about the interactions you want to have with faculty. If you’re looking to build relationships with professors, and have someone invest personal time with you, Hope College is the place for you!

Choosing a college can be a difficult choice. If you have more questions about Hope College or Hope professors, I would be happy to talk with you. Follow me on Twitter @hopechelsea15 or message me on the Hope on Facebook app.

A Guide to the Hope College Facebook Page

Hey prospective students! This one’s for you!

Getting into college is a really exciting time, and it isn’t complete without relatives breathing down your neck, a ton of anxiety, T-shirts from every school in the state (or country), and of course, FACEBOOK.

College Facebook groups can be really helpful in determining what school you’d like to go to. You can get a really good feel for the school and what the people there are like. Hope’s Facebook page is different from others because it’s actually run by the school. This is a great way to get any questions you have answered! Here’s a quick guide to the Hope College Facebook group.

Don’t overuse it.

This can be tricky. I know that it’s a really exciting time, but remember that these are all online faces – no one here has ever met you, so adding the entire group on Facebook might not be a great idea. With all of the things that I say below, just remember not to overdo it.

Ask Questions. 

We don’t bite. This is what we’re here for! We’re here to help you make the best decision for you, and if you need to know something, we would love to help you out! Don’t be embarrassed.

It’s not just for finding a roommate. 

Our administration actually does a great job pairing roommates together! I went in blind this year and my roommate and I get along great; we’re very alike, too. I know that it can be scary to not know (because Not Knowing in general is terrifying), but just go with it. Trust me. With this is mind, if you’d still like to search for a roommate on the group, by all means go ahead. I can’t stop you!

Start Conversation. 

We’re friendly people who love a good cup of conversation. Exclaim your excitement, post your photos of Hope apparel, introduce yourself! We’re happy to have you here!

Long story short use this group to your advantage, to meet people, ask questions, and figure out if Hope is the right place for you, but don’t creep everyone out.

If you have any questions for me you can contact me at brookelyn.wharton@hope.edu, through Facebook, or my twitter @hopebrooke18! I’d love to answer them!

How to fancy your college application without doing academic work

Hey kids,

X-mas break: free time, food, ugly sweaters, embarrassing childhood stories being told at the dinner table when your family friends’ cute son is there, secret santa, not-so-secret santa (rents) and finally…


Okay, I repeat, embarrassing stories is totally a thing. Example: Bridget Jones

It’s a trick many parents do; get the letter and hide it until Christmas, then put it under the tree as if Santa is rewarding your hard work at school. My parents did that to me on my birthday; with the great advantage (!) of being born on New Year’s Eve, I opened my letter on the last day of the year. Hope was the last one; I knew then that the clock was ticking and I had to make a decision soon while my best friend was still considering applying to Drexel. I rushed it because I don’t deal with uncertainties very well.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should be like me. Actually don’t be like me because you don’t want to find yourself wondering what is going to happen to you after next Wednesday, the day you have 3 finals on the same day… Good God.

Anywho, for those who left doing extracurriculars or writing the essays to the last minute, I have a few suggestions that will glorify their applications. Here are the 5 ways that you can fancy up your application without doing school work:

  1. Volunteer at the local soup kitchen. First of all, it is a very humbling experience. Next time you see someone without a home, on the street, you know that it is not just a poor person but that is actually a person. They deserve your attention, affection and understanding as much as anyone else does. Hearing stories on how they ended up there will inspire you to be a better person and will let you understand that it is not a choice. The skills you develop there will reflect on your resume, on your essay and will make you stand out more as not many students choose to help out with kitchens during their breaks.
  2. Ask for a plane ticket to somewhere really random. Essay material. I’m telling you, nothing says “I am a problem- solver” like that story about getting lost in the largest and most complicated Medina in the world, which is in Fez.
  3. Don’t use technology for 48 hours straight. I tried that and it worked! I realized how much depended I was on it and it made me wonder if my friends and I would have closer relationships if we were not all pretending to be people that we are not or only show our best sides. Also I had some alone time to myself and it was absolutely amazing. That’s what I call some self- discovery.
  4. Spend a day without talking to anyone else but your family. I hear people regret not spending enough time with their family, frankly, that’s something I regret too. My grandfather passed away on my first week of school here and I really think I took him for granted. He was the first in our family (and one of the firsts in the whole country) who got his bachelors and masters degrees in the US. He came here through a government scholarship, on a small ship with 40 other brilliant men who are very important right now and globally known. I procrastinated on talking to him about his stories and I really wish I didn’t do that. Also, don’t underestimate those family stories, it may inspire you to write your essay.
  5. Do random acts of kindness and watch strangers’ reactions. This world needs more kindness than you think. When you make a stranger smile, it may change your life. In high school, I was really self- focused and all I wanted to do was to get ahead. Then one day, some random girl, at a village I was volunteering asked me why I was helping them. Big time wake up call. I was only 14 when this happened but I think it changed my life. From that on I focused on my work more than I focused getting the job done. It was incredibly rewarding, kiddo who asked me the question (she was only 7) and I both cried at the end of the summer.

There is always time for you to work on yourself, hence on your resume… Because afterall, your CV is only a reflection of who you are, right?

Merry (almost) Christmas.

Fly-in Weekend Coming Full Circle

This time last year I was asking each of my high school teachers if they could sign my permission form to miss the following Thursday and Friday. Why? I was headed to Hope College for a Fly-In Weekend. At the time I had no clue if I would be choosing Hope, but I was excited to get a taste of what life as a college student would be like!

On a Thursday morning I boarded a plane (my first trip on my own!) from Pittsburgh, PA to Chicago, IL with a final destination Grand Rapids, MI where a crew of other prospective students and Hope staff piled into a Hope College shuttle headed to Holland. That evening I met my hosts for the weekend: two super sweet girls (one from Kansas and the other from Traverse City, MI) who welcomed me into their college home with open arms. They carried on the impression I had gathered of the Hope College community from my last visit: kind, welcoming, and genuinely interested in getting to know me. Throughout the weekend I did everything imaginable:

  • My hosts gave me a tour of almost all the different dorms
    • this is when I decided I would want to live in Van Vleck Hall if I came to Hope because it has a sweet kitchen and I love to bake!
  • we experienced the old Phelps (aka the dining hall pre-renovation)
  • ww baked 🙂
  • we attended a Hope Hockey game
  • we watched Disney movies
  • we went on a Donut Run*
    • * Donut Run. n.
      1. A late night trip to Good Time Donuts: a valued activity of Hope students.
  • we talked about college and life
  • I sat in on a Latin I class
    • I ended up in Latin III with some of the same students this semester!
  • I got to take a trip to Lake Michigan with the other Fly-in students!

At the end of the weekend, though I was not sure if Hope was the place for me, I did know that if it was I would be happy there.

Bringing it back to the present, my Fly-In Weekend experience is coming full circle. Next week my roommate and I are going to be Fly-In Weekend hosts! 🙂 We are unbelievably excited to have the opportunity to share life at Hope with a prospective student. It is so strange to think about just how much my life has changed in a year! I can’t wait to share my experience with our prospective student next week. And who knows, maybe this time next year their Fly-In Weekend experience will be coming full circle as well!

I hope you are having a lovely week!

Pssst – you can find me on Twitter and Instagram for even more little tidbits and pictures about life at Hope!