Feel like you’re swimming in questions about searching for the right college? You’re not alone! In this series, “Once in Your Shoes,” four Hope families share their wisdom about the college search process as they were once in your shoes. We’ve asked these families some admissions-related questions, with the goal of letting their experiences help you.
Rich and Kathleen Goszkowicz of Muskegon, Michigan, reflect upon their family’s Hope admissions process. The Goszkowicz’s daughter, Grace, is a member of Hope’s Class of 2022.
As college decision letters began arriving in the mail, what went through your minds?
After the busy time of making decisions about where to apply and completing the application process for each school, there was a welcome pause before hearing from the schools regarding acceptance. Our daughter handled this time with relief. She had done all she could and all there was to do was wait to hear from each school. Our family considers worrying about things out of our hands as a misuse of time and emotional energy. So, this time of wait was met with a sigh of relief and filled with the enjoyment of fall.
What was the criteria you were using to help in the decision process?
Our daughter considered both large state universities and small private colleges. We made multiple visits, connecting with staff and professors at the four institutions on her short list. We discussed the possible benefits and drawbacks of each college based on the following: areas of study available, possibilities for changing areas of study, programming of classes to allow for interests outside discipline, financial implications, level of comfort with the environment when visiting, and does this place feel like “somewhere I could live.”
It was not a primary reason but absolutely an added bonus. On one of our final visits, we attended Chapel. She was overwhelmed with the sense of community and connectedness Chapel provided. Basically, the decision had already been made but the experience left her with a sense of peace with her decision and solidified her choice. It was really quite powerful and we both had tears.
What role did location play in the decision process?
Location played a part in the decision process for ruling out places that were out of state, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or in a major metropolitan area, such as Chicago or Detroit. Most likely, due to the proximity of Hope to our West Michigan hometown an hour away, our daughter heard more about Hope and knew alumni. As parents, the safety of Hope’s location was encouraging.
What advice do you have for parents regarding visiting campuses?
Our daughter visited four times prior to making her final decision. As time went on and it became apparent that she was leaning toward Hope, she took more interest in visiting opportunities. Staying overnight with students was a nice way for our daughter to visit without shadowing parents. It gave her the opportunity to spend a longer time and see how some of the day to day living played out.
What role, if any, did Hope’s status as a liberal arts school play in the decision process?
We encouraged our daughter to consider liberal arts as we feel many programs have become too regimented and do not allow for broadening of ideas, encourage interests or provide a well-rounded education.
How did size of our institution influence the decision to attend Hope?
The size was the ultimate deciding factor. Hope was the place that felt most comfortable.
How did financial aid/merit scholarship affect the decision to attend Hope?
Financial aid and merit scholarships gave our daughter the ability to choose Hope. Without this, Hope would have been off the table due to a lack of ability to afford the tuition.
What concerns did you have or can you share about paying for college?
Paying for college is an overwhelmingly huge concern for us. While we expect our children to contribute, we carefully considered our comfort level with the amount of debt they will assume. We planned as best we could but still fell far short. We still lose A LOT of sleep over this one. It also weighs heavily on our daughter as she looks to us for guidance but cannot truly understand the far-reaching financial implications. It heightens every decision about classes taken and potential changes in study area. At a time when kids should be exploring and broadening interests, they have become prisoners to debt. It is disturbing. Of course, this problem occurs for students at all universities and is not specific to Hope. Hope did a fantastic job for Grace making the financial piece fairly equitable to public universities.
When did Grace know Hope was the best and possibly only option?
Our daughter put Hope at the top of her shortlist by December. Once the financial packages were available to compare, she was able to make a final decision with relief and joy.
Any other thoughts or stories you would like to share?
Hope’s personal attention from her admissions representative was amazing. It made her feel connected and welcomed from the very beginning. The interest in her ideas and questions made her feel as though she was connected with Hope from the very beginning.