Originally published Jan. 20, 2013

The Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors, which is based out of Grand Valley State University, hosted a group of fourth and fifth graders from Black River Public School on Friday to teach them the value of writing.

“Writing is a lot like art in that way where when you’re young, everyone thinks they can do it, but the older they get the more self-critical they get about their writing,” said Patrick Johnson, interim director of the writing center. “We want to encourage younger people not to create barriers for themselves when it comes to writing and art.”

The young students toured Lake Ontario Hall’s classrooms and faculty offices, as well as worked with writing consultants on their creative process. They also had the opportunity to have their realistic fiction pieces critiqued and to speak with consultants about the drafting stage of writing.

“When you poll a group of fourth graders and ask them how many of them are artists, everyone raises their hands,” Johnson said. “When you poll a group of seventh graders, two or three raise their hands because some students get really comfortable saying that’s what they identify as, but most students, even though they can do it, don’t think they should do it or don’t do it very well. So I think partly the idea of bringing them here is to share that writing is in everything. Writing is just part of life, so we want to encourage sort of life-long learning with regard to writing.”

Jim Levering, the students’ teacher at Black River, said he brought his class to GVSU to make it clear that their lessons in grade school matter even in college.

“I hope they can see that what I’m teaching in the classroom and trying to help them with their writing skills to become proficient writers, that it’s authentic,” Levering said. “Those skills are very, very important to have, and by coming here I thought they could see how important it is.”

The Writing Center isn’t the only GVSU department to host young students. Many offer community days or workshops for high school or grade school students to get comfortable in the university setting. The Admissions Office also provides tours for younger students.

Jodi Chycinski, director of admissions as GVSU, said it’s important that the university reach out to prospective students before they reach high school so they understand what they need to do to be eligible for college admission.

“We are interested in having students make college part of their long-term plans,” Chycinski said.

The young students’ exposure to GVSU usually includes a talk about the type of classes they need to take in high school and the importance of a college degree.

While many parents and teachers of middle school students bring their children to campus with the sole intention of exposing them to college life and piquing an interest in post-secondary education, sparking a desire to attend college was not necessarily Levering’s concern.

All of his students are considered college-bound, since one of the requirements to graduate from Black River is to be accepted into a four-year college institution.

At this point, simply knowing that the skills they learn in fourth grade are reinforced in college is enough for the Black River class. But a reminder of the game plan never hurts.

“We wanted to show them what life in college looked like and ask them to imagine themselves in that situation,” Johnson said. “So we wanted to not so much recruit future Grand Valley students but rather ask them to picture themselves in college and imagine what they hope to be doing when they’re that age.”

For more information about prospective student visits at GVSU, visit the website at http://www.gvsu.edu/admissions.

 

Original publication: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2013/01/gv-writing-center-hosts-prospective-students-from-young-ages

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