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Introduction to College Campus Life Builds High Schoolers’ Confidence and Capability

Making the jump from high school to college can be tricky for many students. Life on campus feels like a different world and learning to navigate through the new classes, people and environment takes time. But, like so many other aspects of life, preparation can be a key to success.

Students from the GVSU summer program participate in a classroom program

While many college prep courses focus just on test scores, essay writing and other important, but sometimes intangible, parts of the transition to campus, Grand Valley State University’s College Prep Week Program puts students in the driver’s seat to experience everything that a college campus has to offer. One hundred fifty rising high school juniors and seniors from across the state participated in this year’s program, including 92 students from 10 Metro Detroit schools.

Throughout the week-long program, participants experience the life of a college student. From living in dorms to attending mock classes led by GVSU professors and even engaging in activities with the University’s student organizations, the young people get a true feel for what it takes to make it on campus.

“All the staff and current GVSU students come together to make sure you go to college ready to face any upcoming challenges,” said Karleen Horton, one of this year’s participants from University Preparatory Science and Math in Detroit.

But their experience doesn’t stop in the classroom. Special soft-skill workshops and mock interviews helped build students’ skills in professionalism, communication, resume building and personal finance, all of which will help them find success in the classroom and beyond. They even participated in mock interviews with GVSU faculty and staff, some of which could transform into job and internship offers if the students enroll at the university. 

I learned that I am in control of my future and only I can make my path. - Shimya

“My favorite part of the program was definitely the mock interviews,” Karleen said. “The interviewers told me I was taking the right steps to my goals and what areas I should improve on. As a high school student, you always feel like you’re doing everything wrong. These interviews gave me more confidence in the decisions I made.”

Of course, no trip to West Michigan is complete without experiencing all of the art, culture and nature the area has to offer. When they were not living life on campus, the participants also had a chance to visit several Grand Rapids museums and nearby Silver Lake.

Through this wide variety of experiences, the College Prep Week program helps to build students’ confidence in their ability to find success in inside and outside the college classroom.

“I learned that I am in control of my future and only I can make my path. I also learned that I am capable of being something bigger and better than I thought I could be.” said Shimya Fitzgerald, a participant from University Preparatory Academy, also located in Detroit.

Experiencing a college campus and interacting with faculty, program staff, and most importantly, other talented high school students from across the state, can have a remarkable impact on each participant’s journey and leave them motivated to make the most of the upcoming school year.

“Through this program, I learned to be a leader and follow my own path. I am part of the generation that can make a change and it’s our time to open new doors in our lives,” Karleen said.

“My experience at the GVSU College Prep Week was one that will always be with me. The classes were engaging and allowed me to see what a true college setting was like,” added Jasmyn Pearson, another program attendee.

With the experience, skills and connections gained during their week on campus, these students are prepared to take on the challenges that college, and the world, throw at them.

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