Phelps Scholars: Required Courses

Fall Course: First-Year Seminar

All Hope College students enroll in a First-Year Seminar (FYS) during the fall semester of their freshman year. The purpose of FYS is to introduce students to college-level ways of learning, to engage with primary texts in a discussion format, and to offer support as students transition into college. Phelps Scholars take a team taught FYS called Culture, Control and Community that emphasizes cross-cultural understanding and completes the college’s requirement for International Global Learning. In an effort to complement the learning taking place in class, Phelps Scholars are required to attend a minimum of one of the field trips during first semester.

Community Placements

In conjunction with the FYS course, each Phelps Scholar spends 18 hours throughout the first semester serving in a local organization dedicated to creating community in the central city of Holland. Though not required, many students choose to continue volunteering at the same placement site throughout second semester.

Research Projects

Phelps Scholars work in groups of three to research a topic related to culture, control or community with the purpose of seeking a global understanding of the issue selected. The students then give poster presentations at a campus event at the end of the term, and the top five are selected to present at the college’s Celebration of Undergraduate Research in the spring.


Hope students benefit from academic advising that begins as early as Orientation weekend and then continues throughout their career until graduation. First-year students are advised by their FYS professor and for Phelps Scholars, that means one of the five faculty members who team teach FYS.  We take advising very seriously and spend a great deal of time talking with students about how to succeed in college and in life.

Meeting with students outside of class offers a prime opportunity for development. This may include collaboration and discussion about current progress, goals and strategies for success in college and beyond. Conversations are intentional and may explore questions such as “What is your present situation?”, “What are your possible choices?” and “What is the likely outcome of each choice?” Students are then encouraged and challenged to move forward by the choices to which they commit while still considering the connections between the here and now and their futures. Advising is a team effort!
— Yolanda Vega, Director, Phelps Scholars Program

Spring Semester Course

Phelps Scholars also register for one of two additional courses in the spring semester of their freshman year: Encounter with Cultures or Introduction to American Ethnic Studies. These courses continue to promote a shared vocabulary and understanding as it relates to issues of cultural diversity, with a focus on contemporary issues of race and culture in the United States. Both of these courses complete Hope’s requirement for Global Learning in the United States.