When it comes to the people who influence a young adult’s life, educators are at the very top of the list. And I’m not just talking teachers, but presidents, principals, counselors, deans, provosts and even secretaries, as well. Any person involved in keeping an educational facility running has much to do with the benefits reaped from that education. It has always surprised me how hugely students, me included, have neglected to acknowledge exactly how important these people are to their lives. They are often the last to receive thanks when something goes right, and the first to be blamed when something goes wrong. Now, with Northern experiencing slight problems renewing its accreditation and having to make extreme budget cuts, I feel the need more than ever to stand behind the people who wake up every day and dedicate themselves to making my education the best it can possibly be.
The main reason behind this whole ordeal is that NMU was accused by the Academic Quality Improvement Program of the Higher Learning Commission of not doing an adequate job of self evaluation. While the thought of having a degree that may be essentially useless to me is frightening, I have confidence in those in charge to not let this happen, not to mention sympathy for them. Besides those bubble sheets students fill out at the end of every semester, which many students neglect to take seriously, what other way is there to measure what students are learning? Sure, you can look at test scores, checking for improvement and amount of knowledge gained, but overall education is a pretty tough thing to measure.
Not only that, but learning ultimately lands in the hands of the students. Some students see college as a free-for-all; party all night, skip classes in the morning and pass with less than flying colors. These people are naturally going to be learning less than those who take their education seriously, and may also be the ones complaining that NMU should not be in this position of possibly losing its accreditation in the first place.
Unfortunately, this all comes at a time when the downward spiraling economy is beginning to take its toll on NMU. Information was recently released to the public that NMU may lose $10 million of higher education. This will, of course, take away from our education but is also completely unavoidable. The economy has greatly affected the state of Michigan, which has been demonstrated by a state unemployment rate that is higher than ever and the downfall of many small business. It is obvious that severe changes such as this are going to continue for a long time. Aspects that are often considered most valuable, like higher education, are going to be taking the hardest fall of all. It is an all-around unfortunate situation which has to be dealt with at an inopportune time for Northern, giving students more of a reason to stick by and support their school.
People often refer to NMU’s “right to try” policy as if it were an embarrassment or an explanation for why losing accreditation has become a possibility. But I see nothing horrible about giving students, no matter what their GPA may be, the right to participate in a state university. If students are placed on academic probation when entering NMU and do not stay above an allotted GPA, they are not allowed to return the following semester. It is not as though NMU is allowing every student, no matter how much they slack off or how low their grades are, to continue being a student. I, for one, feel privileged to be part of a university that gives every person, no matter what mistakes they may have made, a chance to further their education.
I’ve never been big on school spirit, and I am well aware that I am not attending Harvard or a school of Ivy League caliber. However, I am grateful for and satisfied with the education I am receiving here at NMU. During these hard times that have fallen upon our administration, I think the necessary thing to do is support them and trust them to do right by their students.