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Semester Programs: Rehoboth Bridge Semester


What are the goals of the semester? 

      The goals of the Rehoboth Bridge Semester are varied but centered in offering an alternative path for students to start or stay in college.  It offers first and second year college students a hands-on, educational approach to fulfill core credit; explore the themes of calling, vocation, and major early in their college career; and experience the unique cultural and geographic characteristics of New Mexico.  

What are the central components of the semester? 

      Central elements of the semester include: 

  • Academic classes.  You will enroll in 12 to 14 hours of core credit as a part of the semester.  Classes will vary as to the faculty member leading the semester, but all courses will fulfill core credit at Calvin. 
  • Community living.  You will live together in dorms on the Rehoboth campus and share group living responsibilities (e.g. meal preparation and cleaning).
  • Service-Learning.  You will be expected to complete a service-learning placement in one of several settings (e.g. education, medicine, social services, or business).
  • Cross-cultural experiences.  The Rehoboth campus, situated in the midst of the Navajo Nation, provides a wealth of opportunities to experience and learn about Native American culture. 
  • Excursions.  Each weekend, your group will travel together to sites of cultural, geological, and/or natural significance (e.g. Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Grand Canyon, Canyon de Chelly).

Why should I consider the Rehoboth Bridge Semester as a way to start my college career? 

      The Rehoboth Bridge Semester offers you an opportunity to leave West Michigan and start your college learning in a small intentional community that promotes experiential learning.   In addition, the semester offers space for you to fulfill core requirements while also exploring the ideas of vocation and major in a diverse environment.  If you thrive in hands-on learning environments, flourish in smaller, more intimate groups, and are interested in exploring new places, this semester may be a good fit for you. 

Why is the program located in Rehoboth, New Mexico? 

      Calvin has a long history with Rehoboth Christian School through its relationship with the Christian Reformed Church (CRC).  Missionaries from the CRC came to the Southwest in 1896 to bring the Gospel to the Navajo and Zuni people, and Rehoboth Christian School was soon born. In 1903, the CRC Board of Missions purchased a 320-acre ranch, located six miles east of Gallup, which would become the center of Indian missions and include a boarding school for Native American children.  The number of students in the elementary, middle and high school has continued to grow, and today Rehoboth has more than 497 students.

      In the early 1990s, the school moved from being a boarding school to a day school with an extensive transportation network, and opened the dorm rooms for other purposes.  These open dorms provided the infrastructure for Calvin to start an off-campus semester in 1996 with a focus on education.  This program thrived until 2010, when changes in the education certification program in Michigan made it harder for students to participate in this semester.  After a three-year hiatus, we look forward to re-offering this program in 2013 as a bridge program for first and second year students. 

      We are excited about returning for a variety of reasons.  First, the Rehoboth community offers an inclusive environment for you to thrive and feel part of a community.  Second, the surrounding area of Gallup offers a diverse culture in which you can learn, grow, and contribute.  Lastly, the four corners area (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah) offers a beautiful natural and cultural environment for you to explore and experience. 

What is the cost of the semester?   What additional expenses might I have? 

      The cost of the semester will be the same as the cost of tuition, room and board at Calvin plus a $150 off-campus program fee.  This cost will cover all the following expenses:

  • Tuition, room, and board;
  • Transportation to and from Grand Rapids; and
  • Excursions throughout the semester (including transportation). 

      You are responsible for spending money throughout the semester.  In the past, students have been able to work (on a limited basis) at Rehoboth as a way to make a little spending money during the semester. 

What are the dates of the program?  Where does the semester start and end? 

      You will participate in first-year orientation at Calvin (Passport IV, Quest – in late August/early September) and depart by van from Grand Rapids for New Mexico on or around Labor Day.   The travel time to Rehoboth will involve camping and side trips to places with historical and contemporary Native American significance.  Classes at Rehoboth will run from early September to the end of the first full week in December (plus exam week), and you will return to Grand Rapids in mid-December.  You must leave from Grand Rapids with the group at the start of the semester, but you may chose to go directly home from Rehoboth at the end of the semester.

Who will direct the program?  Who will teach the classes? 

      One of the distinguishing characteristics of all Calvin off-campus semester programs is that they are faculty-led.  Faculty who lead an off-campus semester teach two classes and direct the overall program.  In New Mexico, you will take these two classes as well as two additional classes, taught by instructors hired by Calvin from Rehoboth and the surrounding area. 

      In the fall of 2013, Dr. Becky Haney will be leading the New Mexico semester. She currently teaches in the economics department of Calvin College and also leads a cross-cultural communications interim course. Prior to coming to Calvin she served as a pastor in the Native American community in Oklahoma, and she is currently involved in ministry with the Native American community in West Michigan. More information can be found on her faculty bio. (link this to

What will our daily schedule look like?

Typically classes will take place Monday to Thursday, leaving Friday open for weekend excursions and travel.  However, your daily and weekly schedule will vary depending on when and where your service-learning hours will be as well as what course excursions you have.

Are there any specific physical requirements to participate in the semester? 

      Although you should be in relatively good physical health to participate in the program, there are no specific physical requirements.  Students with physical disabilities are encouraged to apply and explore the accommodations necessary to make participating in the semester possible. 

      New Mexico and the four corners region offer a variety of outdoor pursuits (e.g. rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, skiing), and the program will create opportunities for students to participate in many of these activities; however, these activities are not mandatory and students can determine their own level of participation.

How will the semester connect with the traditional first year experience at Calvin

(e.g. orientation, connection to faculty, courses, etc.)? 

      The first semester of your college career is important to help you feel connected and invested in your overall college experience.  In participating in the Rehoboth Bridge Semester, you will have a different experience than if you lived on-campus; however, Calvin has worked hard to ensure that many of the same opportunities and outcomes of the on-campus experience will be a part of this off-campus semester. 

      Specifically, Calvin will assist you in connecting to faculty, being challenged academically, feeling part of a faith-based community of your peers, and offering you the support you need to be successful in your first semester of college.  Some of these initiatives that have been put into place to help with this process include having a recent Calvin graduate serve as an resident assistant (RA) for the group; creating opportunities to participate in group Bible Studies, Chapel (via the internet) and other worship experiences; as well as maintaining our commitment to integrate faith into every aspect of the semester.  These initiatives combined with the unique opportunities that the Rehoboth Bridge Semester will provide, should create a rich first semester experience that will prepare you to be successful throughout your academic career at Calvin. 

How will students be re-integrated into campus life after the New Mexico semester? 

      Returning from your experience in Rehoboth, you will be expected to participate in our interim (January) term.   During the first interim, most first year students take a class to fulfill their Developing a Christian Mind (DCM) requirement.  However, in your case, after studying in New Mexico, you will have already fulfilled this core requirement.  As a result, you have the freedom to consider an off-campus interim class or to take one of the many inter-disciplinary classes offered on campus. 

      Interims at Calvin are an exciting time to be on campus.  The format of interim offers you more time to engage in the co-curricular life of the college, such as attending a lecture from the award-winning January Series, participating in your resident hall’s social life, or exploring the city of Grand Rapids.  In addition to these opportunities, Calvin has developed a plan specifically to help Rehoboth Bridge semester students find their place at Calvin.  This plan includes: 

  • Housing.  You will be placed in two or three residence halls so that you can meet new people, as well as be supportive of the friends you met during the Rehoboth Bridge Semester.
  • Community Dinners.  Weekly dinners at the homes of various faculty will be provided during interim and into second semester as a way for you and your group to stay connected with each other and to also meet interested faculty from across campus. 
  • Academic Support.  Academic support is available to you through our Student Academic Services (SAS) office.  You will also be given additional advising resources to make sure you are in classes that match your interests. 
  • Mentors.  Upperclassmen mentors will be available for you (if desired).  These mentors will be students who have done an off-campus semester in recent years. 

How do I apply?  What are the deadlines? 

      To apply for the Rehoboth Bridge Semester, you must first apply to Calvin College.  Once your Calvin application has been submitted you can start your application for the Rehoboth Bridge Semester.  The on-line application can be found at the following website:

      In order for your application to receive full consideration it must be submitted by May 1.  Applications received after May 1 will be reviewed on a rolling basis as long as there are still openings in the program.  Applicants will be informed starting in mid-April about their status in the program.  Deposits for Calvin and the Rehoboth Bridge Semester are due on May 1.