After years of attending school in the same neighborhood surrounded by familiar faces, many graduates leave it all behind and head off to college.
That move was scary for V’Lecea Hunter, a Detroit native, who is a counselor in enrollment development support services at Grand Valley State University, located in Allendale, 12 miles west of Grand Rapids. After graduating from University Prep High School in Detroit, Hunter enrolled at GVSU. But the move wasn’t easy.
“I went to an all-black school, so when I went to Grand Valley, I was in a culture shock,” Hunter says. “Coming to Grand Valley was different, because I’m at a predominately white institution.”
Hunter was out of her comfort zone and feeling scared. “I didn’t understand why people wanted to help me,” she says. “I didn’t know that help was genuine.”
But it was genuine. With help from her scholarship advisor Lynn Blue, the vice president for enrollment development, she realized that people wanted her to succeed in academia and beyond. “She allowed me to see the beauty in people,” Hunter says of Blue. “She allowed me to see the beauty in Grand Valley.”
At GVSU, Hunter found her perfect fit, which is why she received her undergraduate and graduate degrees and works there today. “It’s a family unit and once you come here, you literally feel like you’re at home.”
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing a college, but Hunter offers advice on finding right college fit.
Take a tour
Prior to deciding which college to attend, Hunter suggests going on tours of the universities you’re considering.
“Once a student goes on multiple tours, they will then begin to develop their ideal institution.”
A tour provides a clearer picture of what they do and don’t want from their chosen college – whether it’s campus size, location or access to certain amenities.
“Finding a place where you’re comfortable can create positive outcomes,” she adds.
“Research shows academic and social integration equals college success, and I totally agree with that,” Hunter says.
Students need balance between social activities and academic life. “Students will drive themselves insane if they don’t have that balance.”
With more than 400 student organizations, GVSU offers endless opportunities for engagement outside of class. “It would be pretty hard for students not to interact with other students,” she says.
As students prepare to enter the real world, they need guidance, so Hunter suggests taking a look at a university’s career center to learn more about job assistance.
“Grand Valley has a lifetime partnership with all alumni,” she says. After graduation, the folks at GVSU continue to help with resumes and cover letters.
Student loan debt is the second highest consumer debt category – right behind mortgages, according to Forbes. In the United States, 44 million borrowers have accumulated $1.5 trillion in student loan debt.
Grants and scholarships, like the one Hunter received, can help lighten the load – or eliminate it altogether.
“I would definitely say Grand Valley goes above and beyond to offer the most financial help to be successful.”
Research scholarships available based on merit, financial need, area of study and more.
To find out more about Grand Valley State University, visit gvsu.edu.