Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Grand Rapids

I suppose I would be surprised if I wasn’t saying this, but the start of this semester has been quite busy, the most recent weeks of which have been no exception. Classes have been in full swing for a while, clubs and organizations have already finished their first meetings, athletics have been doing quite well in several sports, and on campus events (rallies, concerts, guest lecture speakers) have been going strong for some time now. The weather, however, has been a little bit less consistent, but hey, I wouldn’t want anything other than variety in that category.

Lately, I’ve had my mind on the big city down the road. Grand Rapids, aside from being the home of our downtown Pew campus, is also a pretty active city. With a population around 190 thousand, it’s the second largest city in Michigan, and Grand Valley students have easy access to this city with free busing, and there is a lot to do in the city. Gerald R. Ford Museum is phenomenal, the restaurants are great (although you may need reservations for some locations), and there’s dancing and music in warm weather or ice skating in cool weather. I would say that the local art galleries and sculptures around the city are also great (which is true), but most of the buzz lately regarding art has come from Art Prize in the fall and the Festival of the Arts in the summer. Art Prize, in particular, is kind of a big deal, because it’s happening right now, and this year is already looking great. I’ve barely even scratched the surface of the tip of the iceberg myself, and that’s mostly because it’s huge this year. Over 1700 displays, in 192 venues spread across the city, making for one colossal festival of creativity.

What’s funny is that this post isn’t really even about Grand Valley. Sure, students basically have free, easy access to all that Grand Rapids has to offer, but anyone could also check out some of these events and locales. As much as I would like all of you readers to take this info into account as you weigh your college choices, I think anyone could benefit from a visit to Grand Rapids. But on that note I’m signing off, so post away if you have any concerns.


Monday, September 13, 2010

The value of a (GVSU) education

Well, I won’t say things are slow at the moment. Last week was a day shorter than a usual school week, and it was still about as busy as could be. Which was kind of funny, since we didn’t have very many high school seniors visiting the campus, being the first week of high school for most of Michigan. I suppose that’s a sign that I just had a lot of class work right away (not that I’m complaining; I’d rather be active than bored). And we finished it off some athletic achievement, so there’s a plus.

Speaking of last week, someone on campus happened to talk to me about the merit of college on Thursday, and whether or not higher education was worth the cost. So is it really worth taking on heavy student loans to attend a college or university?

Yes. Easily. Everyone talks about how college grads will make more money over the course of their lifetime than high school grads, but instead of just writing that here and calling it good, I wanted some hard numbers. According to a 2002 report by the US Census Bureau, over the course of an (average) adult working life, a high school grad will earn about $1.2 million, an associate’s degree holder will earn $1.6 million, and a bachelor’s degree holder will earn about $2.1 million (again, these are all averages).

Of course these are just strictly economic benefits, and there’s a lot more to college than economy. I’m a far more critical thinker now than I would have been without a college education, and I definitely feel as though I’m a socially, politically, and culturally more aware person for my time spent at GVSU. That’s not counting the number of friends that I’ve made here or the connections that I’ve made with faculty who also work in their respective fields of study. And I don’t mention the experienced faculty just to say “look at how professional the professors are,” but to point out a general advantage of education in the first place. College is a location where students can gather and learn from others rather than from trial or error, making them far more prepared for the world ahead of them regardless of the path that they may choose. College is an investment, one where a student spends time, effort, and money in an institution which will allow them to enter into their professional lives at a higher level or perhaps even enter into a higher profession than if they had chosen not to attend.

In my opinion, Grand Valley presents this service of education in a far more extensive variation. I can’t speak to other universities, and whether or not they offer this same value, but with GVSU I feel as though this idea of education extends far beyond my professional life and into all facets of who I am. Yes, I will be professionally more able upon graduation, but I will also end up leaving this institution with an advanced understanding of myself; my social, emotional, cultural, political, and ideological values and the ways in which those interact with the world around me. If time spent at Grand Valley can be marked by one word, it would probably be “growth.”

Does that mean that it comes without a price? No. You still have to pay for college, and you still have to work pretty darn hard after you’ve paid for it, but in the end your education will pay you back beyond that which you’ve put in.

But I’ve already taken way longer to explain a topic that I could have just finished with “yes, trust me,” so I think that’s my cue to sign off.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Fall semester underway

It has been an eventful week, to say the least. Classes started on Monday, the buses are back to a regular schedule, and campus dining is finally on its normal school year hours. Speaking of which, I had a chance to check out The Connection yesterday, the newest dining facility on campus, and calling it a nice building would be an understatement. I didn’t get a chance to eat there; I was just walking through taking photos, so keep an eye out for those in the future. I also took a quick spin through the newest housing units on campus; also a great addition.

It was a little bit rainy yesterday and today, but the Lakers won the first football game of the season, 34 to 31. Ladies soccer and volleyball have also had an impressive start to the season, both with wins this last week. Classes are definitely looking up this semester, for me at least. My senior project is still kind of a looming obstacle, but one that I’m looking forward to diving into. But I’m on my way out the door, at the moment, so it’ll just be a quick update today. Feel free to ask any questions, and everyone have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.