logo for Go Green Go 15 campaign

As AOP continues, we will continue to provide updates on our progress with our various initiatives.

As we enter the third week of Academic Orientation, I wanted to update the MSU community about the student success initiatives we launched this year.

Spartans Transition to Excellence Program (STEP) – Through a collaboration between the Academic Orientation and Transitions Office, Residence Education and Housing Services (REHS), the Division of Student Affairs and Services (VPSA), and Academic Services and Enrollment Management, as well as faculty and academic staff across campus, this enhanced orientation experience provides roughly 20% of incoming students with a coach.  After AOP during the STEP Welcome Event, student participants engage in a small group experience focused on the college transition when they meet their coach, who will continue to connect with the students during their first year. We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students and family members:

·        99% Parents/family members and students have stated they would recommend STEP to other parents/family members or students;

·        99% Parents/family members and students have stated that the program is helpful;

·        99% The students have stated they feel better prepared to begin their first-year having attended STEP; and

·        We asked students and parents/family members to indicate the degree to which they felt part of the MSU community before AOP, after AOP, after STEP. 99% of the participants feel more a part of MSU after STEP.

The coaches are volunteer faculty and staff, and they are outstanding. They share stories about their transition and first-year experience, and although stated in different ways, the students hear a consistent and clear message about the importance and value of making connections and asking questions. The students leave having heard a variety of perspectives. The fact that the group of coaches are Spartans of all races, genders, ethnicities, and social backgrounds showcases that we are supportive of all students and committed to inclusion.  Several STEP students and parents/family members have commented that MSU sincerely cares about students and family members.

Go Green, Go 15 – The goal of the Go Green, Go 15 campaign is to inform incoming MSU students about the benefits of credit momentum: enroll for about 15 credits each semester, complete 30 credits in your first year, and have a completion conversation with an academic advisor about getting on track to graduate in 4 years. Go Green, Go 15 is intended to empower students by giving them a general target for pacing, initiating dialogues with their advisors about what is appropriate for individual students, and developing a pathway to graduation. Go Green, Go 15 has also been endorsed by the Board of Trustees in setting MSU’s tuition strategy for the coming year that freezes tuition for the first year for students who start in the fall of 2018. A summary and FAQ for Go Green, Go 15 for advisors and faculty can be found online at: https://goo.gl/9x2iTv .

So far, with roughly 35% of incoming first-year students having attended AOP by the end of week 2, we have seen a 65.2% increase over last year’s rate in the percentage of students enrolling in 15 or more credits in their first fall semester.  For spring, we have seen a 23.1% increase.

·        After this year’s first two weeks of AOP, the percentage of students enrolled in 15+ credits for their first Fall semester was 44.2%.  In comparison, it was 26.75% in the end of week two in 2016.

·        After this year’s first two weeks of AOP, the percentage of students enrolled in 15+ credits for their first Spring semester was 52.%.  In comparison, it was 42.65% in the end of week two in 2016.

The efforts of our advising community have substantially contributed to the success of this initiative. 

Common Intellectual Experience (CIE) – Based on students’ math placement and program of study, eligible students have been pre-enrolled in a math class as well as an ISS or ISB course their first semester, and then an ISS and IAH or an IAH and WRA during the Spring semester, as a common cohort sharing a series of thematically-linked courses with the same classmates over the entire first year.  As students explore the relationships between social equity, environmental health, and human health, they will learn about current events from multiple perspectives, and they will be able to apply their work from one class to the others. Students will also have opportunities to engage in active curricular and co-curricular settings, including real-world case studies, films, guest lecturers, and field trips.

Although the pre-enrollment of these students did not proceed perfectly, we are working with the advisors within sponsoring units to encourage students to participate in this program, as well as working closely with our colleagues in the Register’s Office to confirm appropriate course enrollments for students who choose to participate.  I want to thank the advisors in our partnering academic units for their efforts in support of the CIE program.

In conclusion, I want to especially thank MSU advisors for their hard work during Academic Orientation Program.  Although I understand there are a number of new programs, which have in some cases made the jobs of advisors more complicated, I appreciate that those in the MSU advising community have maintained a professional level of engagement with each student they meet, guiding them through what is often a complicated and stressful process.  I also want to thank our partners in Residence Education and Hospitality Services, the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs, Academic Services and Enrollment Management, and in the Colleges across campus – without whose cooperation our new programs would not be possible.

As AOP continues, we will continue to provide updates on our progress with these initiatives.   Clearly, the impact of these new efforts depends on the work of all who support AOP, in ensuring that the newest members of the MSU community feel welcomed, supported and connected!

Feedback and suggestions, especially from the MSU community, welcome: email sekhar@msu.edu.

R. Sekhar Chivukula is the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education and Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Michigan State University.