Hope College in Holland, Michigan has been operating since 1851, when Dutch immigrants opened the Pioneer School. Backed by the Reformed Church of America, it was established just four years after the area itself was settled to offer the community’s children an “education with a Christian character”, something they realized was not guaranteed in state schools (how right they were, too). By 1966, it was officially chartered as Hope, was allowing women before the turn of the century, and today stands on 90 acres, whereas it initially occupied a single building on donated land. As the school says, “Out of faith and charity, Hope was born”.
Hope College offers a four year, Christian-backed, liberal arts degree to a student body of about 3200 undergrads looking for an education resulting in a Bachelor degree (a graduate program was attempted, but became financially unsound and was disbanded). Though offering numerous campus ministries and believing in the necessity of a “vital faith” to drive your education towards a better life for all, religion on campus is left up to the student and isn’t overly invasive. Even with a 17% student body belonging to the RCA, questions, religious freedom, and the value of independent thought are stressed at Hope. Long known for its pre-professional preparation and research programs, graduates are drawn from over 40 states and 30 countries.
The degrees offered at Hope College aren’t available online so distance learning isn’t really an option here, but traditional students looking for a diverse education that values inquiry and leadership have found their school. Currently with programs in different areas of study, Hope offers Bachelor’s degrees in the Arts, Music (it is one of the only small schools accredited in all the fine arts of music, art, theater, and dance), Sciences, and a Bachelor of Nursing. They focus individualized attention on each student, owing to their 13:1 faculty student ratio that demonstrates their “strong commitment” to every education (resulting in a student retention rate of about 80%). The diverse majors offered (from Dutch to Ministry Study, with Business and Education in between) draw a large student body to a multi award winning institution.
Research opportunities abound at Hope, with programs gaining mention due to their variety and quality. US News and World Report ranked it in the top 33 of research schools, faculty-student projects are encouraged (in fact, Hope ranks 4th in the nation in published faculty research), and there are numerous credit plans for such work. Internships are also highly valued, with summer and weekend programs meant to imbue that experience on the job training affords (usually with accompanying academic work and credit compensation). There are also numerous study abroad programs, both here and internationally.
Using their Christian origins to create global minded leaders for tomorrow, Hope takes its 150 years plus experience to create a strong liberal arts backed education that fits in with a 21st century world.