Increasing pre-college programs is a smart move on GVSU's part

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 11/1/17 10:48pm

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Many prospective college students have no clue what they want to do once they graduate high school. As a general rule of thumb, most 18-year-olds don't have enough experience to have their whole life realistically planned out, even though they are expected to start making those important decisions at that age. To complicate matters, students from underrepresented or low-income backgrounds often don't have the resources to learn about or embark upon the journey to college in the first place.

To change this, Grand Valley State University has recently opened the Pathways to College Office under the Division of Inclusion and Equity in an effort to expand pre-college programming and outreach to help and encourage students from diverse backgrounds to attend GVSU and college in general. 

The purpose of this office is to connect GVSU with middle and high school students to help them prepare for college and give them an understanding of how the whole process works. Aside from the intimidating prospect of enrolling in university-level courses, balancing a heavier  workload and facing a greater degree of curricular difficulty, just getting started researching colleges and financial aid can be overwhelming for any student. 

Implementing this program is a good move on GVSU's part not only because students need this help to tackle daunting college prep but also because the university is setting itself up for adopting future successful Lakers, boosting GVSU's enrollment, retention and academic numbers.

For the students, these programs provide much-needed guidance. Simply thinking about college plans can be super daunting, and it can be difficult to prepare for standardized tests, prepare competitive essays and understand complicated financial aid terms without sufficient help. These issues tend to only be aggravated for first-generation students and students coming low-income backgrounds. 

With the new Pathways to College Office, though, middle school and high school students have the opportunity to visit GVSU well before it's time for them to seriously consider enrolling so that they get a feel for what the college life is like and what GVSU has to offer. 

Through the Wade H. McCree, Jr. Incentive Program and the Michigan Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), which the Pathways to College Office takes advantage of, students also have access to tutoring, mentoring, college-prep workshops and other opportunities related to higher education. These are all things that pre-college students desperately need, and many individuals do not have access these types of resources without the aid of the program.

Many pre-college students who are from low-income backgrounds don't even see college as a viable option. That isn't to say these students are any less qualified or deserving of an education than students from wealthier backgrounds. That's why the help of programs specifically designed to provide a unified community regardless of financial need is so important. Everyone deserves a fair chance at an education. 

Establishing the Pathways to College Office is one way GVSU is striving to boost its enrollment of students from diverse backgrounds and extend the offer of a college education to students  who may have a harder time getting to college otherwise. The opening of the Pathways to College Office is an initiative that will surely prove mutually beneficial for both GVSU and the surrounding community. 

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