Hope College ranks high among the rest: A visit that changed my life

Amber Lee Carnahan, Managing/Health & Tech Editor

photo (7)By Managing Editor: Amber Lee Carnahan

Throughout the various stages of education, school has been strengthening and preparing students for the next big picture – college. We’ve been taught how to write, read, and behave for college, but the actual process of college window-shopping requires a personal effort. The college search mainly consists of visits that are orchestrated in order to get a sense of how life on campus would feel.

I started my college search near the end of my junior year with a closed mind. I had this idea of where I wanted to go; I was convinced that Michigan State University would be my future home away from home. It was on a chilly winter Friday morning that all my predetermined plans drastically changed. Howell High School had given the students Friday off, as it was a teacher development day. I was fully prepared to engage my newly acquired free-time wisely: sleeping under my toasty covers for an ungodly amount of hours. It was when my mother woke me at six in the morning, telling me to get dressed and that we had a two hour drive ahead of us. To say the least, I was outraged. The fact that I had to visit a college I had never even heard about on my day off drove me crazy. Since I already knew what college I wanted to attend, I figured a visit to a completely different college would be pointless. Despite my persistent whining, we soon left the house, course directed towards Holland, Michigan’s Hope College.

For the first twenty minutes, I resolutely stood my ground, refusing to give in to my mother’s will and enjoy the visit, especially when I discovered a tour was to be given around the campus. With the lake-effect causing the brisk temperatures to feel even colder, it spelled certain doom. However, after the first stop at a student panel, my perspective began to shift. The panel consisted of about five Hope students, all of whom appeared very comfortable and content in Holland. In a short matter of time, I was soon enjoying the visit and could see myself going there in the future.

The rest of the visit consisted of a campus tour, scheduled times to meet with course professors, and finally a lunch. Once I finished complaining, I took a look at the campus and could see that it was a very beautiful town. In many ways, the small city reminded me of Howell. The campus also wasn’t too large, so my mom and I were able to get around easily without a guide’s help. Following the tour, we eagerly searched for the right building for lunch, which turned out to be extremely well-prepared. If nothing else, a tasty lunch is always a good qualification for a worthwhile visit.

After the short tour and brief lunch, I chose to meet with first the mathematics professor, followed by the English professor. I was the only one to visit the math teacher at the designated time, but he was very nice and showed me around the building, pointing out the various displayed presentations. Afterwards, I headed to the English professor. At first, I was once again the only student present, but soon after we started talking, one other person showed up. The teacher took notes as we talked, asking what we were interested in and whether we were considering being English majors. I told him of my plans of double majoring in math and English, which never ceased to surprise others. After expressing an interest in joining the college newspaper, he proceeded to tell me about Hope’s literary magazine, Opus, since I had previously mentioned an interest in creative writing.

The selling point in my opinion wasn’t Hope’s beautiful campus or its delicious food, but it was the college’s dedication and friendliness towards the students. Shortly after my first visit, I received in the mail a new edition of Opus, along with a hand-written note from the English professor. I also received an email from him personally asking that I contact him the next time I’m visiting so we could talk again. This personable atmosphere was what convinced me and changed my mind. I wasn’t able to get the same warm feeling from any other college I visited.

I participated in several other Hope visit days, each reaffirming my decision that it was the place I belonged. I even stayed in the campus hotel during my birthday week, spending the time exploring downtown Holland and getting better acquainted with my future home.