South Lyon alumni give advice to help navigate the college search

Grace Cook ‘21, Sports Editor

The college search can be daunting—especially during a year like 2020. Due to the limited (or even nonexistent) nature of college tours this year, it is increasingly difficult for applicants to get a “feel” for college campuses and ultimately find their best college fit. To help part the smoke of the 2020 college search, South Lyon Alumni have given their perspectives as current students of various colleges in Michigan.

University of Michigan (U of M) : Known for its selectivity, U of M is arguably the most prestigious college in Michigan, attracting often the more ambitious students. Sophomore Rylee McDermott, 2019 South Lyon alumni, assures applicants that they should not be intimidated by U of M’s reputation:

“If you get in, you really do belong here,”

UofM Sophomore Rylee McDermott

she said. She recommends U of M to students who appreciate a challenge, have a strong work ethic, and are excited to be part of something bigger. McDermott said that she chose U of M because she loves the Ann Arbor campus atmosphere. One of her favorite aspects is football season when, “blue and yellow crowd the streets, and the spirit is amazing.” During events like these, she loves feeling connected and surrounded by all 45,000 of her fellow Wolverines. U of M is undoubtedly a competitive school to get into, but upon earning acceptance, the opportunities are virtually endless.

Michigan State University (MSU): Sprawled across East Lansing, MSU boasts 50,000 students, 5,300 acres, and almost 100 majors. An enthusiastic sophomore Spartan, Maddie Toth said she was excited to attend MSU because her “parents went there, and [she] has always wanted to go to a bigger college.” The former South Lyon student finds Michigan State unique because of its diversity; she is always excited to meet different people from around the world. While MSU remains one of the more selective schools in Michigan, chances of getting in are higher than that of its rival school, U of M. That being said, Toth recommends MSU to anybody seeking a bustling college atmosphere with uncountable opportunities.

Grand Valley State University (GVSU): For those not drawn to the larger crowds, Grand Valley State University offers a mid-size student population with smaller classes. GVSU sophomore Sarah Flannery finds this downsize to be a major gain: “I enjoy the smaller campus because I don’t do well in large classes,” she said. Even more attractive, however, is the college’s location and nature-filled campus. Flannery chose GVSU specifically because she loves being outdoors and going to Lake Michigan. As she describes it, “The campus is so compact and beautiful; it’s filled with trees, and it’s so gorgeous.” In addition to the outdoors, students routinely praise GVSU’s modern facilities and spacious dorm rooms. 

Hope College: Hope college may be small in size, but it harbors an abundance of opportunities. Former South Lyon Varsity Pom Pon member Abbie Martin cherishes the smaller size, “because it allows us to make stronger connections with our professors and fellow students.” Moreover, Hope’s vibrant student community and gorgeous campus was the very reason she decided to attend. The lakeside Holland campus is home to just over 3,056 students, however it offers a whopping 90+ majors, among them being pre-med and engineering. In addition to their academics, “Hope has fun and unique traditions that are exciting to participate in,” Martin said. She describes Hope College as the perfect match for anybody “who wants to meet their lifelong friends and pursue their passions.”

Michigan Technological University (MTech): Far north in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan tech cultivates the state’s grittiest science, technology, engineering, and mathematical innovators. Their mascot, the Husky, is an accurate representation of the cold and snowy weather they experience year-round. For some, this polar weather comes as a challenge. But for former South Lyon resident and International Academy alumni Miranda Meyers, year-round snow is what makes MTech exciting. Of the many perks MTech offers, one of them is getting to snowboard on Halloween. Merry weather isn’t the only reason this freshman enjoys MTech, however; Meyers also appreciates the college’s curriculum because it teaches with labs more than lectures, “so [she] can get her hands on projects early on.” She finds MTech unique because it “pushes its students to get involved with jobs, internships, and projects,” to ensure that its graduates enter the workforce with optimal experience. Meyers concludes that people who learn best from hands-on experience will thrive at MTech. One piece of advice though: be prepared for snow.

The COVID pandemic may have spoiled most opportunities to tour campuses in-person, but college-bound students must not fall into despair. We are surrounded by resources, whether they be college books, websites, virtual tours, or reviews from current students. And at the end of the day, high school seniors need to remember that college is not a life-or-death decision. The “perfect” college choice is the one that sparks joy and excitement for our approaching life chapter.

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