Grand Valley State Honors Student: Small,Team-Taught Courses, and No TA’s

Editor’s Note:  Below is another contribution to our series of first-person accounts by public university honors students.  We welcome such submissions!  The author of this piece is a junior at Grand Valley State University.

By Katrina Maynes

I first visited Grand Valley State University on a snowy day in early December 2009 to attend a scholarship competition at the Frederik Meijer Honors College. Since then, I am certain that choosing to attend the Meijer Honors College was the best decision I could have made.

As a freshman, I enrolled in one of the Honors College’s trademark, team-taught, year-long foundational interdisciplinary sequences. My class studied East Asia, and the small, intimate setting facilitated class discussion and emphasized interactive approaches to learning. My sequence taught me to polish my research, communication, and writing skills, and it ultimately laid the foundation my future successes. I have since taken a course that was taught by a world-renowned counterintelligence expert, met CEO’s and the family members of American presidents, and discussed history in Chicago’s Chinatown alongside leading experts on East and Central Asia. In every class, students are treated as intelligent and important, and my peers and I are taught that our ideas can have an impact, from the very first day of class to the last day of our careers.

Due to these remarkable experiences, I am convinced that it is the quality and passion of the faculty and staff that makes the Meijer Honors College extraordinary; the professors encourage students to shoot for the stars, and each faculty member has rare, intuitive talent for teaching. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and the breadth of their research and course offerings means there is something for every student. Regardless of the course that a student selects, there are no TAs, only small class sizes and professors who take an active interest in ensuring that each student is successful.

Furthermore, my professors never make me feel inadequate or bothersome. Even though they are distinguished scholars, they are always approachable, passionate, and endlessly willing to help. I have been able to discuss my ideas, research, and goals with specialists at the top of their fields, enabling a new level of learning and scholarly interaction. The faculty constantly pushes the boundaries of their fields, and they truly encourage students to do the same.

In perspective, my experiences at the Frederik Meijer Honors College have not only molded me into a better student, but they have also made me a more determined, compassionate, and well-rounded person, teaching immeasurable lessons in and out of the classroom. Without doubt, the Honors College will continue to offer students the same positive experience, excitement, and enthusiasm that I have felt since that snowy day in December 2009.