On Monday, Oct. 21, an “early assurance” agreement was signed to give Michigan State University College of Human Medicine applicants, coming from Grand Rapids Community College, extra resources.
According to the agreement, there will now be a spot for one potential GRCC student per year out of 130 competitive seats into MSU’s prestigious medical programs. On top of that, GRCC students will be able to apply earlier than other applicants and will have access to “a program of enriching clinical and service experiences,” according to the press release from MSU and GRCC.
“The advising at GRCC will help identify potential candidates (for the MSU Med School),” said Dr. Joel Maurer, assistant dean of admissions at MSU. “It’ll be kind of a budget neutral program because both sides are agreeing to work with each other.” There shouldn’t be any measurable increase in costs to either college Maurer explained, since the advising departments will simply be helping some students in a more direct way down a path to applying at MSU.
“When they transfer, we’ll help coordinate a handoff overseeing process,” said Maurer. Students will then be given advising from MSU on local services and be “given the proper advising contacts in fostering the early assurance program.”
To be clear, the spot is not guaranteed, even if the student meets program criteria. An email from Maurer explains, “For MSU (or any other institution) students applying through early assurance, there are not a specific number of spots set aside for “guaranteed” placement. At other schools, like those mentioned in the release, there are a number of spots set aside for potential placement, and the same would apply for students who start their education at GRCC. But if a student with ties to GRCC (or any other institution) does not have an adequate number of qualified candidates that have been accepted by the committee to fill those spots, the agreement does not force CHM’s hand to accept someone whom they otherwise wouldn’t.”
Their decisions to partner with colleges and universities like this is largely based on “making sure we have a footprint in the communities that we exist,” according to Maurer. For example, students from Grand Rapids are likely to return to Grand Rapids after completing college. These programs seek out candidates that will likely give back to the communities they are from–Michigan communities.
The MSU College of Human Medicine has multiple early assurance partnerships with other universities including Grand Valley State University, Calvin, Hope and Aquinas. Two students who graduated from GRCC wanted to see something like it for GRCC. They went to Grand Valley and they made use of the early assurance program there and assisted with the formation of this new deal with GRCC.
“As someone who’s never gone that route or never known someone who has, it was a huge help,” said Christina Heyboer, 25, on applying for med school.“For all I know, I would have gotten in based on my merits, but I know it (the early assurance program) increased my chances, so I’m thankful.I almost didn’t apply, but I heard about the program and just went for it.”
The program helped, Crystal Juarez, 26, too.
“It really benefited me because I basically didn’t know anything about getting into medical school,” Juarez said. “I didn’t know my pathway or any pathway so they helped me find one.”
“Growing up, I realized there needed to be more Spanish speaking doctors and nurses,” Juarez said. “There were a few scary moments when we couldn’t get our family immediate medical attention.”
Juarez explained they would need to drive into the city if the local doctor was on one of his four days off per week. These traumatizing moments inspired her to do something about it, and possibly also her brother, who is a paramedic.
The early assurance program went into effect when it was signed on Oct. 21. To qualify you need to meet one or more of the following requirements:
- You are a first generation college student.
- You graduated from a low-income high school. (Such as the former Wyoming Park-Heyboer’s High School)
- You are eligible for a Pell, or need-based grant.
- You graduated from a medically underserved community.
- You are seeking a degree in a high-need specialization field.