EXCELLENCE ATTRACTS EXCELLENCE
Giving free tuition to high school students with academic averages of 95% or more is a new recruitment strategy at Lakehead that started last fall and will continue for fall 2010 entry. It should pay handsome dividends over the long term.
This past summer, written offers of free tuition – valued at upwards of $5,000 per student per year – went out to 68 students, and 32 enrolled. Today you will likely find these students preparing for their first set of exams as the fall term winds down on campuses in Thunder Bay and Orillia.
High-achieving students should have a positive effect on everyone, but especially on their professors and peers. In the long run their success as alumni will enhance the reputation of the institution.
Sultan Siddiqui, a professor in the Faculty of Engineering, knows all about fostering academic excellence. He is responsible for the Shad Valley Program at Lakehead, which brings high-achieving teenagers on campus each summer to experience an intensive four-week program focused on science, technology, and entrepreneurship. This year, Lakehead welcomed 65 students from as far away as Germany, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia.
Bright students are a pleasure to work with, says Siddiqui. Students asking intelligent questions will often stimulate the instructor and challenge the rest of the class to consider new ideas and new ways of thinking. When students and their instructors are enjoying the whole process of learning, they are more likely to take on extracurricular learning opportunities such as the annual Steel Bridge Building competition and the Formula-1 SAE® race car competition.
“During the Shad Valley Program, students accustomed to being at the top of their class find themselves in an entirely new environment,” says Professor Siddiqui. “Instead of being one of a few bright students in the group, they find the whole class is made up of talented students who bring a diversity of skills, interests, and achievements to bear on a class assignment. It is interesting to watch the social adjustment that some of them go through over the course of the program.”
Having this kind of diversity in academic excellence is critical, says Laurie Hayes, Lakehead University Vice President (Academic) and Provost. “There are the Renaissance types who are highly sociable and good in a wide range of subjects and skills from music to math, and then there are others who are intensely focused in one or two areas of expertise and have the depth of knowledge to come up with innovative solutions to complex challenges. We need both types at Lakehead.”