Farmington-February 4, 2009-It is nice to have a guide to see through the fog into the local Michigan university scene. Muslims in Michigan of course have to consider the education of their children, and local universities may seem like a mysterious group of institutions. So we spoke with Hajja Khalida Beydoun, a guidance counselor at Riverside Academy, a Dearborn high school catering largely to Muslim students.
Ms. Beydoun estimates that there are 100 to 170 universities in Michigan, with 40 to 45 in the Southeast Michigan area. Of these, she explains, only one has a first-year residency requirement (University of Michigan Ann Arbor).
Her general advice to students wanting to go to university is â€œjust to prepare themselves. Keep their scores high, be active in community service, try to be in various parts of the school, athletics, academics.â€
Her school begins preparing the students for college when they are sophomores. The ACT, she said, â€œis a crucial partâ€ of the package that allows students to get scholarships. In Michigan, if a student â€œachieves a particular score, 28 I believe, they can get the Michigan Promise Scholarship.â€ (Note, Michigan is still determining the official cut-off score.) The Promise Scholarship can also be given for scores on the MME. The amount of the grant is $4,000, which is designed as a repayment after the student has completed two years of post-secondary education.
Local universities with â€œfree rideâ€ programs for students, she explains, include the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and UM Dearborn. At Dearborn, a student must have at least a 3.8 GPA and a 31 on the ACT in order to receive the full scholarship.
An entering UM Ann Arbor student must have a 4.0 GPA and at least (approximately) a 32 on the ACT. â€œStudents from around the country apply to Ann Arbor. The bar is raised so high–only the elite in academics can get a scholarship there.â€
As far as colleges that are especially friendly to Muslim students, Ms. Beydoun mentions UM Dearborn and Wayne State University–both of which, she explains, have very large Muslim associations.
Once students get into university, she recommends â€œkeeping focus–local students lose ground on why theyâ€™re going to this university.â€ They get sucked into â€œactivities, meeting people.â€
She advises, â€œFocus on your academics–make sure youâ€™re on par academically, keep in touch with your professors or instructors–you can be active within the university but you should not lose sight of the activity as opposed to academics.â€
A middle of the road student, she explains, can expect to pay about $6,000 to $8,000 per year, including books and classes, at a community college. At a private university, that amount is drastically higher–$9,000 to $13,000. At a state university, she estimates, a student would have to pay $6,000 to $10,000–although she gives these estimates with the caveat that all of this depends on how many classes you take, and what university you attend.
As far as financial aid, she advises to â€œget on the train as soon as possible.â€ The state of Michigan opens a window in January every year when aspiring students can apply for grants. All the seniors in Michigan are applying at the same time. Students who delay, she says, are sometimes delayed a semester in their education.
â€œPrepare for college as a junior,â€ she advises, â€œtry to pick what you are going to major inâ€ and build towards that while you are still in secondary school.