Originally published Sept. 9, 2013

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said at his spring commencement speech that Grand Valley State University is becoming known as the “Michigan of the west.”

As more and more students continue to choose the Allendale-based school’s Honors College over the likes of the University of Michigan, his comment seems more and more believable.

Recent reports show that Grand Valley State University’s Frederik Meijer Honors College continues to see annual increases in freshmen interest. The college is snatching students away from schools with perhaps more name recognition, like the University of Notre Dame and Northwestern University, which brings it to a higher level of competition in the academic world.

But the university should not sit passively and simply welcome the high-achieving students with a smile and a wave. As the population increases, so does the college’s chance to become more selective in its applicants and lower the acceptance rate to attract even more impressive students who recognize and appreciate a greater sense of competition.

This is precisely what the college should plan to do in the near future.

For some prospective GVSU honors students, the only concern they have about choosing GVSU over an academic powerhouse like Georgetown University is a lack of affirmation; they believe the move is unprecedented, and they feel shamed by their peers who have been sucked into the prestige of other colleges. If these students understood, however, that they’d be joining the ranks of others who turned down scholarship offers to the University of Notre Dame, they’d certainly feel more inclined—or at least validated in their decision—to choose GVSU, as well.

Essentially, a greater exclusiveness in the Honors College would assure prospective students that their potential classmates are on the same academic and motivational level. Is there a better selling point for cut-throat students? We think not.

This is GVSU’s opportunity to recruit the brightest and the best and become, itself, a fierce competitor in academia. It’s also a chance to repay those students who had enough faith in its potential to set the precedent of choosing GVSU.

Its students have given it the chance to rise to the standards of highly competitive schools with extreme acceptance rates—certainly the University of Michigan and perhaps even Harvard University. The honors students—all students, really—have invested in the university and showed faith in its potential by enrolling in it to begin with. Now, reward them by advancing to the net level and proving to them that they made the right choice of where to attend college.

Why wait to level off? Let’s level off now. Make the immediate decision to improve the Honors College and raise it to a higher level with stronger students. Don’t be complacent with a 4.0 average high school GPA. Shoot for 4.5.

Original publication (on A4): https://issuu.com/grandvalleylanthorn/docs/issue_6_15fb9ae307307c