Hope College earns praise on best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell’s newest Revisionist History podcast for taking a revolutionary approach to removing tuition as a barrier for access to college while building generosity and community along the way.
Titled “A Good Circle” and released to the general public on Thursday, June 29, for listening with no charge, the episode explores the vision, impact and potential of the college’s “Hope Forward” initiative. The episode is available via the Revisionist History link on hope.edu/forward
“It’s a gamble, but it’s a great gamble,” Gladwell said of “Hope Forward” while on campus this past spring as he recorded interviews for the episode. “And I am just over the moon that somebody is finally trying to address these deep structural problems in higher education.”
“Hope Forward” is a tuition-free funding model that, once fully implemented, will ask Hope’s students to give to the college upon graduation rather than requiring them to pay for their education in advance. Initiated by Hope College President Matthew A. Scogin and launched in the summer of 2021, it has been piloted across the past two years by 58 students in two cohorts. Fundraising is ongoing to extend “Hope Forward” to the entire student body.
Gladwell had been on campus as a featured participant in the college’s March 8-9 “Catalyst Summit,” which brought together thought leaders from a variety of fields to consider new ideas and spark meaningful conversations about how to fix higher education’s broken funding model. Multiple sessions highlighted “Hope Forward” as a case study, with Gladwell emceeing a talk-show style concluding keynote. While at Hope, he recorded interviews with Scogin and students participating in “Hope Forward” as well as other members of the college community. The podcast also features reflections from best-selling, Michigan-based author Mitch Albom, who was among those who spoke during the Catalyst Summit.
“Hope Forward” students don’t sign a contract pledging to pay a specific amount or percentage of their income to the college. Instead, they sign a covenant promising to give after graduation as they are able based on their circumstances, to provide the same opportunity for future students.
The intent is that they will graduate from Hope without student-loan debt, enabling them to pursue lives of impact, not just income to pay the bills. To apply for “Hope Forward,” prospective participants submit essays describing an area of need in the world that they hope to address.
In addition to the students fully supported through the “Hope Forward” pilot, all of the college’s 3,100-plus students are benefiting from another phase of the initiative: “Anchored Tuition,” which assures that their tuition will not increase from its rate when they first enrolled.
To fully fund tuition for all students, Hope is seeking to raise about $1 billion in additional endowment, with fundraising continuing however long needed to achieve the goal, currently estimated to be at least 10 years.
If you are interested in supporting “Hope Forward” or learning more about the initiative, please visit hope.edu/forward