Do you know the way from San Jose?

Winter 2013

Get this shirt!

Get this shirt!

We’ve been advertising the “ReCommend ONE” campaign throughout Calvin Nation for the last few years, and it appears that we’re gaining some momentum, as alumni, parents and friends are increasingly sending the admissions office information about high school juniors and seniors they know who could be Calvin-bound.

The easy-to-use website is at, and the college will send you a very cool Calvin shirt in gratitude for the name, address, phone and e-mail of a prospective student.

What the admissions team hopes you will do after you ReCommend your student, of course, is stay in contact with that young person—make sure they’ve made a Calvin visit, applied for admission, talked to the Calvin profs or staff members who will help them decide and so on. In other words, be that student’s No. 1 Calvin cheerleader (and you thought the college didn’t sponsor a cheerleading squad).

I asked the admissions office for examples of a Calvin grad ReCommending a student who the college did not know about prior to the alum making that connection.

One of the 2013 ReCommenders was Dan Meester ’95, the superintendent of the San Jose (Calif.) Christian School. Dan was the ReCommender of Jean-Luc Garside of San Jose. I called Dan and asked why he suggested Jean-Luc and what he did to encourage enrollment at Calvin.

Dan served as a guidance counselor in the years before his current position, so he was familiar with the enrollment calendar of searching for colleges, visiting schools, applying, financial aid inquiries and final decision-making. He knew the right times to check in with the student.

“I found that, in my counseling experiences, most kids had expansive plans about where they might like to go to college, but in the end many of those institutions don’t live up to expectations and students wind up attending a place that’s been personally recommended by someone they know,” he said. “Personal connection is more powerful than data.”

Jean-Luc was a natural choice for Dan to ReCommend because of the Garside family’s roots in the Midwest.

“In California, we have to find students adventurous enough to attend college out of state—and leave the beaches behind,” he said. “I knew Jean-Luc’s family was originally from Wisconsin so a college in the Midwest would not seem exotic to him or the family.”

Dan also talked to the local Calvin admissions counselor, Stephanie Brink, about Jean-Luc, so when she got the chance to meet him there was an easy rapport from the start.

And how has Jean-Luc found Calvin College? As advertised?

“I wanted a medium-sized Christian school that had a solid economics program—and the Midwest was not a deterrent,” Garside said. “Calvin has that and more, particularly great opportunities outside of the classroom, more ways to be involved in campus life.”

Garside is a member of the Calvin Theatre Company and is taking a cross-cultural class with his roommate, who is from Korea.

And the shift from California weather to Michigan weather has not discouraged him?

“I like the weather here,” he reported. “There’s more variety.” Although, on the list of surprises for him upon settling at Calvin: “Humidity.”

Right now, he is thinking about being an economic adviser for government agencies, but he knows it is early in his liberal arts education. He does know that he’s in the right place.

His advice to high school students starting their college search: “Don’t rule anything out. Consider the possibilities. The more you remain open, the better your chance of finding a great school, rather than a good school. I did.”

That’s what the ReCommend campaign is all about: helping young people find a great school. We happen to think we have one here on the corner of Burton and the East Beltline.