Prospective tours: The impact of visitation on Hope students

Autumn: the time of falling leaves, pumpkin pie and, for high school seniors, finishing college applications. This leads to journeys across state and country lines to learn about early acceptances and possible choices to apply to before final deadlines. This past Saturday, fresh eyes coalesced the campus as visiting students took their time viewing the campus, like many current students and alumni before them. These students formulate experiences of Hope College that will stay with them throughout the application process and well into their time at Hope. “I bopped around with my father trying to figure out where Maas auditorium was. Found it and then pretty quickly went on a tour with a couple other perspective students.”

This is Rebecca Barth (’20) She started describing the focus of her visitation day being the campus tour provided. “I’m actually now friends with the girl who gave me my tour. Her name’s Elizabeth, and she just walked us around Hope College, and we saw all the things, and we saw all the places” This quickly became complimented by the academic aspects of the Hope tour as Barth went onto describe: “I went to an academic panel. It was just these four students talking about their scholastic experience. I learned a lot about a lot of cool things at that panel.” Moreover, these academic aspects were home to Hope’s human element. “I visited a class, it was a stats class, and the boy next to me had a conversation with me. Everywhere else I went the tour guides talk to you. Of course, the people who get paid to talk to you talk to you. And I’m sure I stuck out as a sore thumb that I was a child in this room of adults, but also this guy decided that I was a new face, and he was going to talk to me, and that was super cool.” Katie Joachim (’20) expanded on this idea. “I attended an English class, and they had to split the groups. A guy that was sitting there was like come join our group.

They asked me about what I thought about what they were talking about. I remember being so impressed that there was this boy who was like ‘I was so busy last night, and I didn’t think I was going to be able to get this homework done but I woke up this morning, went to the library, found the article and read a bit of it.’ I was like ‘what? He didn’t do the homework last night and then got up to do it?! These are my nerd friends here.’” This can also serve as a distinguisher between Hope and other schools as Joachim went on to explain: “I was very impressed by the Hope College students. I went to Alma and sat in on an English class. The professor didn’t remember my name, people were on their phones during class, there was one person who participated, not everyone did the homework and they didn’t care that they didn’t do the homework.

The type of person that you find at Hope College is just so special, and I feel like as a visiting student when you see that you’re like ‘it’s so different’ from any other place you go to because Hope students actually care if you want to come.” Indeed, the personal element of Hope is a large drive for many students that come here. This aspect is especially pertinent to those with siblings as Katie Joachim’s brother Sam Joachim (’22) would detail: “Coming back as a senior, I came on a visitation day. I ended up going to acting one and visiting that class. It was interesting to me because of course I didn’t know everybody, but of course I knew some people because of Katie. It was that weird line of feeling extremely uncomfortable in the best way possible because these people kind of know me, so I can kind of act like myself, but at the same time I don’t want to freak them out before coming here.” But having family familiar with the campus isn’t always the bee’s knees. Sam Joachim lamented about his first visit to Hope explaining: “I was incredibly embarrassed about everything. My mom would be laughing and telling her experience about everything, and I was like ‘mom this is not your place to do this.’” For Sam Joachim this emphasized the importance of facility connection with the college over familial. “The person who initiated my visitation day was Danae [Frost] from admissions. She was probably the best part of it all because she really went the extra mile in terms of making me feel like Hope wanted me there; not just because of my grades or my SAT scores but because of me as a person.” Katie Joachim elaborated on her brother’s statements relaying that whether faculty or students that personal element remains a highlight of Hope for students with a generational history at the college and students seeing the campus for the first time entirely. “The thing that was really fun was that you would walk around, and as you were walking around; people would say high to your tour guide, and I was like ‘this is so cool. Everybody’s so nice.’ People wouldn’t ignore you, and they wouldn’t be mean to you. The community that you find here on visitation day compared to the community you find at big schools or other small schools is really unique and really very special. Especially for somebody who is very insecure about going into a new space that they don’t know.

Having that end that there is a community behind you that will acknowledge your presence and be kind to you both in class and outside of class is really cool.” Next visitation day is this Friday, a kickoff event to Hope’s “One big weekend,” and an opportunity for students to show visiting students and families that we are a special community that these representatives of classes 2019 and 2020 describe us to be. So, try saying hello to a visiting student or their guide. You never know who it will inspire.

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