One of our guiding principles is that we will leave no student behind.
In order to make sure that all our students — including those who are not able to be on campus during the academic year — stay on schedule for their planned graduation date, Hope’s course schedules for the spring semester include in-person, hybrid and online classes. Hybrid courses feature a blend of in-person and online components done from campus. The majority of classes being offered are in-person. No matter what format your classes take — in-person, online or hybrid — you’ll be part of a community that cares for you. As always, you’ll engage with your coursework, your professors and your classmates within the context of Hope’s residential, liberal arts experience.
Two major considerations in our academic planning are:
- Adapting instructional spaces: Given the need for physical distancing in shared spaces, we have reduced occupancy in classrooms, labs and creative spaces. This puts pressure on instructional space in ways we’ve never experienced. We went through an extensive process of reassigning layouts and locations for classes, using both traditional classrooms and other flexible spaces to meet safe distancing guidelines. We also reconfigured and outfitted some instructional spaces with additional equipment, such as plexiglass, and technology, such as cameras and microphones. The combination of in-person, online and hybrid formats allows us to maximize our instructional space, which in turn allows us to offer all the courses that were originally scheduled for the academic year.
- Keeping students on track: We know that some students and professors are unable to return to campus, due to underlying health conditions, travel restrictions in their country, or other personal circumstances. It is also possible that some students or professors may need to be quarantined or isolated if they test positive for COVID-19 or they have been exposed to the virus. The different class formats will allow professors who cannot be on campus to continue teaching and students who cannot be on campus to continue taking classes. In some cases, due to program requirements, students who are attending remotely may still need to take classes that are being offered in-person; we are identifying technology options to accommodate those students, wherever possible.
As we know from the spring ’20 semester, a second wave of COVID-19 could prompt a shift to remote learning. We would pursue this shift only if federal or state restrictions or local health conditions required us to do so.
- Online Classes
What can I expect from my online classes?
We believe that an online course at Hope College is distinctly different from online courses elsewhere. That’s especially the case for the 20–21 academic year, when most students are taking online classes while still living in community with one another on Hope’s campus. Our online courses offer the advantages of the full Hope experience. Professors are readily available to consult and advise students, often face-to-face, always with safeguards. Students are able to study together, go to help sessions and receive the same type of support they receive in a typical semester. In some cases, online courses will be complemented with face-to-face lab components.
Hope’s commitment to online learning is a longstanding tradition. Hope offered its first summer online course in 1999 and by 2006 was offering online classes regularly in the summer. Our history includes more than 70 unique courses taught by 65 faculty from more than 20 departments to more than 4,000 students! On average, nearly 350 students per year have opted to take online courses at Hope. From the time Hope first began offering these classes, we have held to a commitment: Our online courses will feature the same content, same rigor and same enrollment caps as their in-person equivalent, and will be taught by the same professor who normally teaches them in the classroom. Hope’s online classes were never designed to save money or increase the student-faculty ratio, but rather to give students more options to complete their degrees on time. The pandemic has not lessened our existing commitments; we are honoring these same principles during the fall semester.
What if I’m nervous about the online components of classes?
In the spring of 2020, students and faculty had a matter of days to make the leap from in-person, on-campus classes to online, at-home classes. That was a lot of change in a short period of time! For the 20-21 academic year, however, our faculty have now all had experience in online or hybrid learning along with investing their time in training opportunities to strengthen their online teaching. If you know your Hope professors, you won’t be surprised to know they are driven by a genuine commitment to improve the student experience, whether their classes are online, in-person or hybrid.
If you are feeling nervous about an aspect of your classes, share your specific concerns with your professors at the beginning of the semester. And remember, you have many resources available to you, including the Academic Success Center, the David J. Klooster Center for Excellence in Writing, and Van Wylen Library, to name just a few. The Registrar and Academic Advising offices are always available to answer your questions and help you identify needed resources. And if you need to talk to somebody about your mental health and well-being, our Counseling and Psychological Services team will be standing ready to assist!
- Spring 2021 Academic Calendar
Hope will start classes two weeks later than originally planned, on Monday, January 25, 2021. The delayed start provides additional time to serve as a buffer between the holidays — a time when families and friends may be gathering — and the return to campus. This gives the campus community a better chance of beginning healthy and in-person. The two-week delay also brings us closer to warmer weather, which will allow for more outdoor activities during the semester.
- Monday, January 25: Classes Begin
- Friday, March 12: First-Half Semester Courses End
- Monday, March 15: Last-Half Semester Courses Begin
- Tuesday, March 16: Break Day — No Classes
- Thursday, March 25: Break Day — No Classes
- Friday, April 2: Good Friday — Classes Not in Session, Offices Closed
- Monday, April 5: Easter Holiday — Classes Not in Session, Offices Closed
- Wednesday, April 28: Break Day — No Classes
- Friday, May 7: Last Day of Classes
- Monday, May 10–Friday, May 14: Semester Examinations
- Sunday, May 16:Baccalaureate and Commencement
Summer term calendars will be published in January.
- Monday, January 25: Classes Begin
- Looking Ahead to Summer 2021
You may already be thinking about your summer plans. Rest assured, so are Hope staff and faculty who lead summer programs on campus. Please be aware of the following:
- Summer terms: In 2021, there will be two summer terms instead of three. The Registrar's Office is working hard to make updates to the summer calendar. Details will be available in January — thank you for your patience.
- SHARP: The plan for summer research remains in place. Barring any changes in COVID-related conditions or restrictions, there should be no disruption to Summer Hope Academic Research Program (SHARP) in 2021.
- Summer camps: Plans for summer camps, including Explore Hope and athletic camps, will continue to be refined through the spring semester. More details to come!
- And after summer... The fall semester is scheduled to begin Tuesday, August 31, 2021.
- Reminder About FERPA
As the college continues operations during the pandemic, we’ve received requests from parents for specific information about their student’s schedule, grades or overall academic progress.
As required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), when a student goes to college, the right to see such information transfers from family members to the student. Our goals for students are to foster academic success, independence, self-reliance, good judgment and mature relationships with others. Our best advice for parents is to talk with their student about what information they think should be shared. Even though we cannot release specific academic information about students, we are happy to respond to questions about campus policies and any concerns you may have about your student so we can follow up appropriately.
For more information about Hope College policies and practices supporting FERPA, please see the Hope’s FERPA website.
COVID-19 RESPONSE TEAM STEERING COMMITTEE
Submit questions about Hope’s preparation for COVID-19 to firstname.lastname@example.org