Upon coming to Lake State, my first impression was how informal everything was. Instructors seemed familiar with students on a level that did not strike me as traditional within an educational framework. It took me almost a full semester to understand that this was by design.
I heard the line from day one, “Personal attention is what sets Lake State apart,” and mostly I ignored it as a type of ploy to recruit timid high school graduates anxious about a college decision. The underlying message of the “personal attention” statement is that the faculty has a passion for the subject of biology and they try to draw out and foster similar passion in the student body. Of course I can only speak to the biology professors with whom I have had the most experience with, but it seems to me that this type of learning environment permeates campus.
The teachers that I have had employ the approach to train and educate future co-workers, not to form young minds into machines that can regurgitate information. This method, which I see as horizontal rather than vertical, removes certain formalities that could impede the process of learning. My impression is that to a teacher, students are individuals who have not yet fully developed their interests. The teacher’s role is to assist in discovering what a student truly enjoys and to help them along the way.
However, the student cannot be a passive learner. The process works best when the student is as willing to investigate what excites him as much as the teacher wants to see that student succeed. I am not outside this formula. The classes I have enjoyed the most are the ones I fully commit to. When I dedicate myself to the material, it seems that the passion for knowledge catches fire anew and I am most rewarded, regardless of the grade earned. Truly successful students cannot hide and be anonymous. At Lake State the teachers will not allow it.
Truthfully, my interests are so varied at this point that I have no idea what I will end up doing with my life. I have the confidence that with the help of Lake State faculty I will find one thing that I will want to spend my life working with and studying. I believe that this has already begun.
The social atmosphere at school is rivaled only by the physical environment of the Eastern Upper Peninsula, and particularly to a student of biology these two facets feed off of each other. There may be no better region to study Fish and Wildlife. Whether it be class work in the field, camping and other outdoor activities on weekends or jobs that allow you to experience the area, everything that is learned in the classroom can be reinforced and applied as dynamic comprehension of the subject. I think the biology department understands this and in fact sees no other way than to take advantage of the area and incorporate it into the curriculum.