The beginning of the school year can be a lot. Whether students are coming back to the same school or starting a new college experience, everyone struggles to feel connected with their surroundings for the first few weeks. Transfer students struggle with the newness of another school year in a way many other students cannot relate to. These sophomores, juniors and seniors essentially have to “re-do” the beginning of freshman year, which is arguably one of the most stressful parts of most college careers. Hope College is known for its strong community atmosphere, but is this community extended to transfer students? The following is an interview with sophomore Maddie Ford, a 20-year-old transfer student from Texas State University. She sheds some light on her experiences in the past and how they compare with the life that she is now creating at Hope.
Did you choose to transfer yourself or were there extenuating circumstances?
“It was a little bit of both. I made the final decision, but also there were family health concerns that drew me to Michigan.”
What has been the hardest thing about transferring?
“It was really hard to leave old, close friends. I was very used to not having family around, so now it’s hard to not have the support system of my friend “family” anymore because that’s what I’m used to. Additionally, my best friend is now 14 hours away, and all my other friends are too.”
What was your first impression of Hope College?
“Quiet, compared to Texas State.”
Did you choose your dorm, or were you randomly assigned?
“I was randomly assigned, but I wanted to live in a big dorm because I lived in a smaller apartment community last year. This made me realize I was more comfortable in a living in a space with more people around.”
Do you like your dorm?
“Yeah, I live in Kollen Hall, and it’s nice to live on campus versus being encouraged to live off campus. My dorm is a good size and has a cozy feel.”
What’s something you miss about your old school?
“There was lots of camaraderie around sports. Everyone went to the baseball and football games, and everybody was always all in for the events. There were lots of people there.”
How similar does Hope seem to your old school?
“The physical location of Holland is similar to where I was before. Texas State is in San Marcos, a small college town with not a lot to do. Also parking is similar in that there’s not a lot of it, and the parking lots are confusing. If I had to rate it on a scale, ten being exactly the same, I’d give it a 4.3 out of ten on similarity.”
What’s different about Hope from your old school?
“Hope has a very strong community feel, and you don’t have a sense of a perceived image that a Hope student is supposed to have.”
What do you like better about Hope, if anything?
“I like the smaller size. Also it’s nice to not feel like a number, because when you are a number it’s hard to ask for help and you don’t feel accommodated to. At Hope you are accommodated to, and it feels like the faculty is willing to work for the Hope students.”
Do you feel connected to campus?
“Yeah, for sure.”
Does Hope College cater well to transfer students academically?
“Yes. As far as Orientation goes, the orientation program for transfers is really good. It’s super informative, and I had a great experience. It’s nice that you can transfer to Hope at any age, and the process was smooth. Once classes start, it would be cool if there were people in place to check and make sure that transfer kids are also going out of their way to make friends in this new place. It would be nice having someone there for you specifically just checking in. Also it might be cool to have an on-campus support system for transfers, maybe with other transfers.”
How do you feel about your class work so far? How does it compare to your classwork previously?
“The work is definitely faster paced. Students have to get into the school mindset faster. Syllabus week was a lot different here because it’s a smaller school. At state schools, teachers spend the first week or two trying to make sure people are just coming to class. The workload is manageable, but it makes time management a lot more important.”
What’s your impression of the people at Hope in general?
“The people at Hope are very nice and welcoming, just in general.”
What could Hope College do to better help out transfer students?
“It has been hard to relate to people because I’m kind of in-between years. At the beginning of the process, it would be nice to have a tour guide that was also a transfer student. It would be good to have more of a stable transfer program after you apply and are accepted. I think transfer students need people who can sympathize and empathize with them, so if Hope could put potential transfer students in touch with people who have transferred in prior semesters, I think that would put a lot of transfer students at ease.”
What’s something you would love for the people on campus to know?
“Everything you think about Texas football is true, it’s insane. Friday Night Lights is still one of the craziest things I’ve ever been through.”
What advice do you have for other transfer students?
“It’s not as hard as you’re making it. There are people out there who are waiting for you to ask for help and say let’s go get dinner, breakfast, or go to the beach. There’s always somebody who is willing to hang out with you and help. Don’t let yourself be convinced that’s it’s harder than it is, or you can get trapped in that. It’s not corny to ask for help. It doesn’t make you less of a student.”