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Frequently Asked Questions: Seminar Participants

For more details about your stay in Grand Rapids, please read our participant handbook.If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at seminars@calvin.edu.

About Seminars at Calvin:

  • What are the scholarly goals of Seminars at Calvin?
  • What are the costs to participate in a summer seminar?

About the application process:

  • Who may apply?
  • What is the cost to apply?
  • Can I apply to more than one seminar?
  • What is a CV?
  • I submitted my application over 10 days ago. Why haven't I received a confirmation?
  • When will I find out if I am accepted?
  • Can I find out why I wasn't accepted?
  • When will the application process begin for next year?

Planning your travel to and from the seminar:

  • Where is Calvin College?
  • Can I be reimbursed for travel expenses?
  • What is the schedule for arrival day?
  • I'm flying into Grand Rapids: how do I get to campus?
  • I'm driving to Grand Rapids: how do I get to campus and where do I park?
  • I live locally, or prefer to stay with friends or relatives in the area: how should I get to campus?

Planning your stay at Calvin:

  • What is the typical schedule?
  • Where will I be living and what is included?
  • What amenities are available in the apartments?
  • Are meals provided?
  • What can my family do while I am in the seminar sessions?
  • What should I bring with me?

Facilities and services on campus and nearby:

  • What access will I receive as a summer seminar participant?
  • How do I access the internet on campus?
  • Can I use the library?
  • What fitness facilities are available?
  • What is available near campus and how do I get there?

For international guests:

  • I am not a U.S. citizen. Do I need a visa to participate in the seminar? WIll you issue me a letter of invitation?
  • I am not a U.S. citizen. Can I still receive an honorarium? Will I need to pay U.S. taxes?

About Seminars at Calvin:

What are the scholarly goals of Seminars at Calvin?

Seminars at Calvin seeks to promote a strong Christian voice in the academy by

  • Addressing issues of current debate,
  • Engaging them with deep Christian commitment, and
  • Promoting first-order scholarship

What are the costs to participate in a summer seminar?

Each seminar is slightly different. A detailed letter will be sent to the applicant once they are accepted, prior to confirming acceptance. There are no registration fees to participate in any of the summer seminars and no tuition costs.

Funding for travel to and from Grand Rapids is generally not covered. Participants are responsible for their own travel expenses unless specifically told otherwise. The nearest airport is Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR), located just a few miles from Calvin's campus.

In general, the following are provided to you free of charge: all course materials including books and readers; lodging in on campus apartments, also available to your spouse and children (subject to space restrictions); shuttle van between the airport and Calvin's campus on arrival and departure days (available only during specific windows of time); welcome picnic for you and your family members who join you; morning breaks and lunchs for participant only; weekday activities for your children 12 and under (some activities may require a modest fee; a parent must accompany children at all times).

Participants are also granted access to Calvin’s Hekman Library and the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex during their stay. Adult family members may also receive access.

 

About the application process:

Who may apply?

Seminars at Calvin does not discriminate with regard to age, race, color, national origin, religious affiliation, gender or disability in any of its educational programs or activities. Prior attendance of a summer seminar at Calvin will not normally make you ineligible to attend another. Each seminar has different requirements and qualifications. Select the topic of interest to view specific details.

What is the cost to apply?

There is no cost to apply to a seminar.

Can I apply to more than one seminar?

Yes, it is permitted. We do not recommend it for research seminars. Selections for these seminars are made according to the relevance of your research to the topic of the seminar and we do not anticipate equal eligibility in multiple seminars. If you are accepted to participate in more than one seminar, you will be asked to make a choice regarding event participation. Each participant may attend one seminar per summer.

Individuals applying for any of the summer seminars are ineligible to apply for summer visiting scholars programs.

What is a CV?

A CV, or curriculum vitae, is similar to a resumé. This document should include your training and education, work experience, publications, any awards or honors that you have received, and any relevant or significant activities such as board memberships and volunteering. The following website gives further information on what a CV is with a sample: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/cvsamples/a/blsamplecv.htm

I submitted my application over 10 days ago. Why haven't I received a confirmation?

If our office is handling the seminar's applications, you will receive an automated response from our application website, Wufoo.com. That message is confirmation that your application has been successfully sent. We also try to contact each applicant within a few days and confirm that all supporting documents are received and in good order. If you have not received any response, please check your email's spam folder; it may be inadvertently blocking emails from us or from wufoo.com, and you may need to add us to your safe-sender list. Seminars at Calvin cannot be held responsible for blocked emails.

Some seminar directors choose to handle their own applications, in which case the application process may work differently. If you applied directly to the seminar director rather than through our website and have not received confirmation of receipt, you may contact us. We will then contact the director of the seminar to confirm that your application was received.

When will I find out if I am accepted?

The application deadline for each seminar is listed on its information page. After the deadline, all of the applications will be sent on to the directors for review and selection. We will respond to you via email regarding your applicant status as soon as we are able, generally in mid March.

Can I find out why I wasn't accepted into an event?

Due to the number of applications we receive, we are unable to respond to individual applicants regarding the decisions that are made.

When will the application process begin for next year’s Seminars?

More information about next summer's seminars, including the application process, will be posted as it becomes available each fall. If you would like to be added to our mailing list to receive announcements for future seminars, please contact us with your name, institution, field of study, and email address.

 

Planning your travel to and from the seminar:

All of the information provided below should be considered general guidelines. You will receive information specific to your seminar prior to arrival. If you have questions, please contact us!

Where is Calvin College?

Calvin College is located on the outskirts of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Bus service will take you to the historic downtown. A short drive will put you in farm country or charming small towns. And just 30 miles away is the Lake Michigan shoreline with its coastal resort towns and scenic state parks. Search the links below and see the Calvin College Visitors Guide to see all that you can do on your time off.

West Michigan is very pleasant during the summer and offers diverse attractions for visitors. Grand Rapids (pop. 190, 000) is the largest urban center in West Michigan (pop. 1.3 million), with its own airport (Gerald R. Ford International Airport). There are a number of museums in downtown Grand Rapids, including the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Ford Presidential Museum, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, and the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. There is also an Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is located just north of Calvin's campus, and a 90 acre nature preserve located on campus. There are numerous festivals, concerts, and other events in the summer.

Can I be reimbursed for travel expenses?

In general, no. Some seminars do provide a modest travel reimbursement to participants, but that information will be conveyed to you separately. Unless you have been told otherwise, you should expect that all travel expenses and arrangements are your responsibility and will not be reimbursed.

What is the schedule for arrival day?

Whether you are flying or driving, plan to arrive between 1 pm and 6 pm on your arrival Sunday. We can accommodate later arrivals and airport pickups until 8 pm, but we strongly suggest you arrive before 5 pm to enjoy our welcome picnic at 6 pm. If you arrive during the picnic (6-7 pm), please join us for dinner and we will check you into your apartment afterwards. We will ask you to provide your expected arrival time (and flight information, if applicable) via email prior to the seminar. Additional information will be provided prior to the seminar.

Our staff are not available 24/7, and we ask that you cooperate with our arrival and departure schedule to ensure efficiency for everyone.

I'm flying into Grand Rapids: how do I get to campus?

Seminars at Calvin staff will offer a free shuttle service by appointment to the apartments from the Grand Rapids airport from 1 pm to 8 pm on arrival day, and shuttles back to the airport until 5 pm on departure day. Taxi service is also readily available to and from the airport, but please check with Seminars at Calvin staff before making plans to ensure someone is here to check you in/out.

Security regulations will not permit our shuttle driver to leave the Calvin van in the shuttle lane and come into the airport to meet arriving guests. Guests should instead pick up their luggage, exit the terminal through the main exits, and look for the van with the “Seminars @ Calvin Shuttle” signs parked in the shuttle lane between the terminal and the parking lots. The shuttle driver will be waiting with the vehicle to meet arriving guests. Please be aware that you may need to wait for a few minutes, as the driver may be shuttling multiple guests. If you have trouble locating the shuttle, please call the cell phone number that will be providing in your arrival instructions (about 1 week prior to seminar.)

If you plan to use our shuttle, we require that you provide your flight information (including flight numbers for all flights and estimated time of arrival) at least one week before the seminar. This ensures that we have staff available to pick you up and can track your progress in case of airline delays or changes.

I'm driving to Grand Rapids: how do I get there, and where do I park?

If you are driving, you can find driving directions at http://www.calvin.edu/map/directions.htm.  There is a map of Calvin at http://www.calvin.edu/map/. The Knollcrest East apartments are on the northeast corner of the East Beltline and Burton Street. For mapping purposes, the apartment’s physical address is: 3465 Burton Street SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Note that this is only for mapping purposes and will not be your mailing address while on campus. Enter the apartment parking lot off of Burton Street (second drive on the left going east from the Beltline).

Note that if you are coming from the north and heading south on East Beltline, you will not be able to turn left onto Burton. Instead, you must go through the intersection and take the U-turn (“Michigan left”) just past the lights. Then you will be on northbound East Beltline and can turn right onto Burton St. 

You may park in the lower parking lot near the apartments. When you turn in from Burton St, you will see plenty of available parking. You will be staying in the Courtyard Apartments of Knollcrest East (Delta, Gamma or Kappa) so we suggest you park as close as possible to those buildings. No parking pass is required.

I live locally, or prefer to stay with friends or relatives in the area: how should I get to campus?

We welcome "commuter" participants. Please let us know of your plans in advance so that we do not mistakenly arrange housing for you. You are responsible for your own transportation to and from campus. If you plan to drive, plenty of free parking is available; you do not need a permit during the summer.

Commuters are also invited to the welcome picnic on Sunday evening, and their family members may also join. If you are unable to attend, we will plan to meet you for the first time in the classroom at the start of your seminar, where we will have a packet of information and course materials waiting for you. Additional instructions will be sent prior to your seminar.

 

Planning your stay at Calvin:

What is the typical schedule?

Many seminars meet only in the mornings, usually from 9am-noon. Others have morning and afternoon sessions with a 1-2 hour break for lunch. Ultimately, however, the schedule is determined by the seminar's directors, depending on their goals and the length of the seminar. Evenings are typically free so that participants can make full use of Calvin’s Hekman Library.

Seminars are intended to be intensive weeks of study. Except in very unusual circumstances, participants should plan to forego work or other activities during the week(s) of the seminar.

Where will I be living and what is included?

Participants (and their families, when applicable) are typically lodged in the Knollcrest East courtyard apartments on Calvin's campus at no cost to the participant. These apartments house upperclass students during the school year, and, while spartan, provide ample space for two summer scholars or a small family. The apartments are furnished with 4 or 5 single beds, dressers, desks & chairs, and dining table & chairs; one bathroom with shower; and a full kitchen with appliances.

We provide basic kitchen items such as cutlery, plates and cups, and a selection of pots and pans, and we can provide some other kitchen items such as crock pots, blenders, and bakeware upon request. You are also free to bring your own items for use. We also provide basic linens (sheets, pillow, blanket, and towel) but many participants find they prefer to bring their own.

Seminar participants who attend without family members will share an apartment with one other participant of the same gender. If you prefer, your spouse and children may join you in the apartments; in this case, your family will have the use of a full two-bedroom apartment.

Finally, please note that all participants residing in the on-campus apartments must abide by campus rules. Alcohol may not be brought onto campus, including into the apartments. All apartments are non-smoking; a designated smoking area is available outside near the apartments. No pets (apart from service animals) are permitted.

What amenities are available in and around the apartments?

All apartments are equipped with free WiFi and air-conditioning. Each building also has a common room, which we equip with a television and DVD player for participants and their families to use. Each building also has laundry facilities; the machines are free to use, but please bring your own detergent.

There is ample free parking available on campus, including a parking lot next to the apartments; participants are welcome and encouraged to bring their own cars and do not require a parking pass.

For more information about the amenities available in the apartments, visit the Knollcrest East web page(please note that the web-page is intended for Calvin's students, so information will not apply to seminar participants.) If you have additional questions about accommodation, please contact the Seminars at Calvin office.

Are meals provided?

Participants and family members are generally responsible for their own meals during the Seminar. We provide a welcome picnic on the first day of each seminar, and all participants and their family members are welcome to attend at no cost. Additionally, we provide weekday lunches and morning breaks for participants only; family members are not included.

Each apartment has a full kitchen for participants to prepare their meals, and we offer transportation to and from a local grocery store on arrival day and at least once a week.

If you have special dietary needs that will need to be accommodated at provided meals, please indicate this on your acceptance confirmation form.

What can my family do while I am in the seminar sessions?

As noted above, you are invited to bring your spouse and children to stay with you in the apartments. If your family plans to join you, please let us know when you accept your place in the seminar, and inform us immediately if your plans change. Please keep in mind that each apartment has only 2 bedrooms with 2 beds each and can comfortably accommodate no more than 5 people. Children under 16 may never be left in the apartments unsupervised.

Family members are invited to participate in our Children’s Activity Program. Each summer we hire a Calvin student to serve as Children’s Activity Coordinator, and that Coordinator works hard to plan activities that will be of interest to your children based on information collected from the participants. Activities are usually offered in the morning Monday-Thursday. Accompanied by a parent or guardian, your child(ren) will be able to participate in group games, crafts, field trips (which will be of little or no cost), and other activities. The activities are designed for elementary-age kids and pre-teens, but all ages are invited to attend if they are interested in the activity. Special teen-only activities may also be scheduled depending on the group's needs.

What should I bring with me?

You will be staying in an apartment with limited furnishings and we will provide some basic amenities. You will need to bring your own personal toiletries and other items for personal use, and you will also need to bring or purchase food for breakfasts and dinners in your apartment. We've provided a packing guide to help you prepare. If you have questions about what might be available for your use, please contact us in advance.

 

Facilities and services on campus and nearby:

What access will I receive as a summer seminar participant?

Most short-term guests (1-2 weeks) receive "Visitor" status on campus. You will receive an ID card, allowing you to borrow books from the college library and use many of the college facilities on campus, such as the fitness center. Adult family members will also have access to the fitness center.

How do I access the internet on campus?

You will have access to the free campus WiFi network, which provides internet access on your personal laptops and mobile devices. You may also use the computer facilities available in the library. Ethernet access is not available in the apartments, but wireless internet is available in the living room of all apartments. Internet access will be coordinated through the Seminars at Calvin office, and you will receive additional instructions prior to arrival.

Can I use the library?

Yes! During the summer, the Hekman Library is generally open 8:00 am -8:00 pm M-Th, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm Friday, and 11:00 am-5:00 pm Saturday; the library is closed on Sundays. It is one of West Michigan’s finest academic libraries with more than 700,000 books and non-circulating periodicals on open shelving. The library currently subscribes to 2,745 periodicals and has particularly strong holdings in history and the other humanities.  

What fitness facilities are available?

Your ID card will grant you access to the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex, Calvin's recently-renovated athletic center. Facilities include indoor pool, track, climbing wall, and cardio and weight equipment. Visit the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex web page for additional information, including opening hours. Calvin also has a beautiful nature preserve and numerous pathways, providing plenty of options for running or walking.

What is available near campus and how do I get there?

Grocery stores, a variety of restaurants and pubs, a shopping mall, and a range of good bookstores are all within a few miles from campus, and downtown Grand Rapids is just a 15 minute drive away. Participants are welcome and encouraged to bring their own vehicles, and free parking is readily available. This city is easy to navigate by bicycle. The campus is located on The Rapid, the city's public bus service which provides fast service to downtown and other areas of Grand Rapids; a bus stop is located just a short walk from your classroom.

For maps and directions, additional information about dining and other local attractions, see the Calvin College Visitors Guide. And while you're on campus, don't hesitate to ask a friendly staff member for suggestions.

 

For international guests:

I am not a U.S. citizen. Do I need a visa to participate in the seminar? Will you issue me a letter of invitation?

It is ultimately the responsibility of accepted applicants to determine which visa is needed for participation in the seminar, and what the process is in their specific situation. Participants are responsible to obtain the necessary paperwork and appointments and to pay any necessary fees, as well as travel costs. It is highly recommended that all non-U.S. citizens contact the Seminars office as soon as they receive notification of their acceptance, so that they can talk through any questions that they may have.

All accepted applicants will receive an email of confirmation, stipulating the arrangements that will be made for them should they confirm their acceptance in the event. Hard copies of this letter will be sent upon request. This letter can function as a letter of invitation for the purposes of applying for a visa.

I am not a U.S. citizen. Can I still receive an honorarium? Will I need to pay U.S. taxes?

Some seminars include honoraria for participants; however, these must be dispensed in compliance with federal and campus regulations. In general, participants must prove that they are eligible to work in the U.S. and they must have a U.S. tax identification number (usually Social Security number). Typically this means that participants must apply for a specific visa and (if they do not already have a U.S. tax identification number) apply for a U.S. Social Security Number upon their arrival into the U.S., which can take several weeks to process. However the process will be different for each individual depending on their citizenship, residence, and travel history. It is highly recommended that non-U.S. participants contact the Seminars office as soon as they receive notification of their acceptance, so that they can talk through any questions that they may have.

All stipends are taxable income. Non-U.S. citizens should expect that up to 30% of their stipend may be withheld in taxes. In some cases funds may be returned to the participant if they file a U.S. tax form at the end of the year. In some instances this amount may also be waived in accordance with tax treaties between the U.S. and the participant's home country.

 

If you are still not able to find an answer to your question, please contact us at seminars@calvin.edu.