HOLLAND — High school students from across the country were able to pitch their ideas on how to equitably change higher education for future generations during the first REP4 national convening Thursday.
REP4 is national alliance of six colleges and universities, led by Grand Valley State University. REP4 members partner with high schools and community partners to engage in student-led “Rapid Education Prototyping” to address urgent challenges in equity and access in higher education.
GVSU announced REP4’s launch in May. On Thursday, a dozen student groups pitched their ideas, which can be viewed and voted on at rep4.org.
Pitches included launching an app to connect incoming students with mentors to guide them through the early stages of college, ways for students to attain healthy and nutritious foods while living on campus and ways to reduce the cost of living for students in need, among others.
“Problems of this magnitude are too complex for us to solve on our own,” GVSU President Philomena Mantella said during Thursday’s event.
Following voting, educators will work with students to test and eventually implement the best programs, with the hope of positively affecting generations of marginalized students.
The idea for REP4 was born out of a conference at GVSU in November 2019 where a discussion about necessary changes in higher education took place. Out of that discussion, five tenets were established to lead the work.
Those tenets are to put learners at the center of discussions, embed equity into the work, shape and invest in action-oriented projects, strengthen cross-institutional collaborations and build and share collective intelligence across the industry.
Moving forward, institutions will continue to host regional events to spark ideas and inspiration among students. From there, students will refine their ideas before presenting them at national convening’s like Thursday, which will take place annually.
Following the national convening, students will continue to work on their pitches while institutions test the ideas out. The end goal is to make the ideas accessible for higher education institutions everywhere while allowing students to mentor future generations of students, pushing them to create their own ideas and platforms.