Identifying itself as a "vibrantly Christian" school, Hope College has a fairly homogenous population—89.5 percent of students are white, and 69 percent hail from Michigan. While the four-year school is rooted in religion, religious practice is not mandated. In fact, 15 percent of students have little to no religious background, school administrators estimate. Still, nondenominational services are held four times a week in the college's 1,100-seat Dimnent Memorial Chapel, and students are encouraged to attend churches in the community on Sunday mornings.
Hope—where tuition, room, and board cost just over $35,000 a year—is closely intertwined with the city of Holland. The school owns much of the residential property within two blocks of the college, which it uses for student housing. The campus abuts 8th Street—the city's main drag—which is crammed with coffeehouses, bars, and restaurants.
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Hope is notable for the number of research projects it undertakes, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The National Science Foundation has given the institution more student-faculty research grants than any other primarily undergraduate college in the country.
Roughly 170 students partake in subsidized, summer-long projects alongside professors. Science student Kyle McKey, a senior from St. Joseph, Mich., was able to study Parkinson's disease at the cellular level. Such research initiatives help build strong bonds between students and their instructors. "The professors here want to know you," McKey says.
Atypical of most Division III schools, where sports events draw modest crowds, Hope's gleaming new athletic facilities tend to be packed with raucous supporters, making this 3,230-student school feel much bigger than it is.
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Students' main gripe? The weather. "The winter lasts forever," says Andrew Haggerty, a senior from Novi, Mich. "I didn't realize how much snow there would be."
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