Once in Your Shoes: Reflections from the Zobecks 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.

Rosemary, Mikayla and Ed Zobeck

Ed and Rosemary Zobeck from Haslet, Michigan, reflect on their family’s Hope admission process. The Zobeck’s daughter, Mikayla, is a member of Hope’s Class of 2022.

As college decision letters began arriving in the mail, what went through your minds?

As parents, we were mostly focused on in-state opportunities but realized that Mikayla had not wanted to limit her selection geographically. We tried very hard to support her excitement as she received welcome/acceptance letters in the mail; this is all part of the process. As time went on, we believe that she came to understand that, from our perspective, unless she earned a substantial scholarship from an out-of-state college, her sights needed to consider in-state options. We began to agree also that being a drivable distance from home was a good idea. We prayed individually and as a family for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and for patience!

What was the criteria you were using to help in the decision process?  

While we discussed many issues surrounding a potential college experience for Mikayla, we had three overriding criteria. The first was would there be a vibrant Christian community within the university to support her. Second, Mikayla is seeking a career in medicine. We looked at the success rates of students being accepted into medical school. Third, we looked at the size and culture of the organization and how that fit with Mikayla’s personality and needs. She considered two schools in addition to Hope: The Ohio State University and Loyola Chicago. Loyola is similar in size to Hope and a Christian community largely in the Catholic tradition. While Ohio State is dramatically larger than either Hope or Loyola, they have smaller schools within the university that provide for a ‘small school’ experience

What role did Hope’s faith dimension play in the decision process?  

This was a significant factor. In our minds, there is a huge difference between a university which has a Christian community available and one that informs its practices and culture through the teachings of Christ.What advice do you have for parents regarding visiting campuses?  

We would strongly encourage parents to take advantage of as many visit opportunities as they can and to take advantage of speaking with students 1:1. We found that students, even random ones that we encountered in walking around campus, are very willing to talk about their experience at Hope.

What role did Hope’s status as a liberal arts school play in the decision process?

Frankly, this was more a concern to us rather than a perception of an advantage when we first began looking at Hope. Neither of us went to liberal arts schools and a great fear was our daughter graduating with a ‘liberal arts’ degree and no useful skills to enter the workforce or compete for a medical school position. However, Hope did a good job of presenting the evidence of the value of a liberal arts education on our many visits as well as the success that past graduates have had gaining admission to preferred graduate schools.

How did size of our institution influence the decision to attend Hope?

This was a strong attraction to us. One of our older children went to a large public university. When we attended orientation, the message to parents was pretty much let them find their way. While we appreciate that ‘helicopter parenting’ doesn’t do our children a lot of good, it’s also true that just because they’ve turned 18 doesn’t mean they don’t need guidance, direction and nurturing any longer. First, Hope engaged us so that we can be part of our student’s Hope experience in a way that is constructive to us as parents and good for our child. Second, Hope is small enough for professors to get to know our children and engage with them in ways that just aren’t possible in large public universities. We believe this is a tremendous academic advantage to Mikayla.How did financial aid/merit scholarship affect the decision to attend Hope?

The financial aid awards helped to level the playing field making Hope’s tuition costs comparable to that of a public university.

Any other thoughts or stories you would like to share?

We made a visit to Hope in August between Mikayla’s junior and senior years. The person who normally advises pre-med students wasn’t available, so we met with another professor who was kind enough to spend about an hour with us answering our questions about the program and what Mikayla could expect. Our next stop was lunch at Phelps Dining Hall so he offered to walk with us. Along the way, we encountered three or four students who each acknowledged the professor by name. Surprisingly to us, he too addressed each of the students by their first names. I think I was a senior at my university before I was in a class small enough for my professor to recognize me. This led to a discussion about the relationship between professors and students at Hope and how they work so hard to make themselves available to students.

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Once in Your Shoes: Reflections from the Goszkowiczs 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.

Rich and Kathleen Goszkowicz

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.”

What role did Hope’s faith dimension play in the decision process?  

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.

Move-in day for the Goszkowiczs.

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.

Move-in day for the Goszkowiczs.

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.

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Big School vs. Little School

I know it’s beyond Wednesday, so this week is practically over. But, I just wanted to share with all of you my experiences from last weekend! So, Friday, October 18th, one of my best buddies and I left Holland, MI and road-tripped to Ann Arbor, the home of the University of Michigan main campus. I’m going to be honest, I love U of M. It was in my top 3 choices my senior year of high school. When Joey and I arrived there, it was around 10:00 PM, because we made a pit stop in Howell, MI to do some outlet mall shopping. I was actually disappointed with the selection and even the prices, but that’s what’s not important! We ended up staying the night in Ann Arbor. We needed all of the energy we could reserve for the big football game!

The football game started at 3:30 PM, so Joey and I slept-in a little, and we did a little tour of the HUGE campus. We ended up in downtown AA where we ate at Noodles and Company and shopped at the MDen, the official supplier of Michigan apparel. That store was packed beyond I could imagine, and I even heard from the locals that it’s that way all of the time. Crazy to think, right?

Whenever I go to Noodles and Co., I ALWAYS get the Pad Thai. I would recommend it.
Whenever I go to Noodles and Co., I ALWAYS get the Pad Thai. I would recommend it.

Just touring around South Campus was so overwhelming for me. Although this trip was such an awesome experience, it made me realize how lucky I am to be at Hope College. When you think about, we are very spoiled as students at Hope! We get the attention from our professors, they know us on a first-name basis, they care about our success, and Hope is just a closer, tight-knit community. Of course, the big universities have so many things to offer, but so does a small-liberal arts college. Here are some of the pictures I took from this weekend at U of M. Take a peek!

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Perks of going to Hope College:

For the seniors, and even juniors in high school, hear me out! The size of the college you want to go to will matter! Think about the faculty to student ratio. Glance at the average class sizes. DO YOUR RESEARCH! At Hope College, we pride our faculty to student ratio and class sizes. You will get all of the attention you need. The small class sizes truly enhance your learning. For me, I feel super comfortable asking my profs questions, which furthers my learning.

Big universities do offer financial aid, but for many, they’re only given such a limited amount. Again, Hope College prides itself in financial aid packages, making school affordable for all students. Yes, ALL STUDENTS. Hope College also offers various academic scholarships and grants. Let me tell you, I’m SO glad I came here. This is also what drew me in.

I know you are thinking about college, but it’s also a time to think about post-college education. Hope College prepares all of its students for graduate school. Hope offers many pre-professional programs that can get you in the door. Hope is also very distinct in research. It is ONE OF THE BEST undergraduate research schools in the NATION. Yes, NATION. Want proof? Click here!

Hope has an atmosphere that you won’t see anywhere else. The campus is both small and large. You can cross campus in at least 10 minutes, but the student body is at the perfect size. You will recognize others, but not know them necessarily. I know I keep yapping but Hope just has so much to offer.

As you approach deadlines for applying to schools, consider Hope. Click here to go their admissions website to learn even more. Hope offers many visit-day opportunities, fly-in weekends, and even crossing Lake Michigan on a ferry to accommodate those living out of state! I know I’ve been yapping for a long time now. But consider your options. Hope is here for you. Take the visit days to your fullest advantage. You’ll be glad you did. Seriously, this college rocks.