by Renata Opoczynski, Assistant Dean for Student Success Assessment and Strategic Initiatives

All the work we do in APUE is centered around supporting our students and ensuring all students can learn, thrive, and graduate. A key part of doing our work is hearing from our students and having them play a role in determining what MSU needs to do to ensure all students succeed. So I am thrilled to be able to launch two new initiatives this semester: the Spartan Voice Surveys and the APUE Student Advisory Group. Both of these initiatives will help us collect feedback on the student experience directly from the students. 

The Spartan Voice Surveys are quick surveys that take the pulse of undergraduate students on trending topics and needs. Each month we ask about 5 questions and share results with students from the past month’s survey. Our first survey went out on September 15th and focused on students’ transition to MSU for fall 2021. Full results will be shared in the Campus Student Success Group meeting, but some noteworthy findings include:

  • Students are extraordinarily excited to be back on campus. When asked what they were most excited about for the year, 33% said “Being on campus.”  The next highest answers were “Seeing/making friends” at 25% and “In-person classes” at 15%
  • Our students are already feeling overwhelmed. When asked what they have found to be difficult so far this year, 20% said “Time management,” 14% said “Mental health concerns,” and 13% said “Making friends.”
  • Students are confident they can be successful this year, with 55% saying they were extremely or very confident they can be academically successful this year and another 37% saying they were somewhat confident.
  • Financials are still a concern with 27% of students saying they were concerned about being able to pay for college and/or paying for food or housing.
  • The experience may not be what they expected. Before the start of the semester 42% of students said they felt “excited” but now that the semester started students are feeling anxious (27%) and exhausted (24%) with only 11% feeling excited.

These data points show that we have a lot of work ahead of us this semester to support students and ensure they can learn and thrive while at MSU. Part of that work is digging deeper into the reasons behind some of this data.  

We also need to keep hearing directly from students about what they are experiencing and feeling. This is where the APUE Student Advisory Group comes in.  This diverse and representative group of students will meet monthly with us to provide honest and frequent feedback about ideas and policies that are being explored and share their experiences on campus. As someone who started out in Student Affairs and for the first nine years of my career had students knocking on my door every five minutes, I miss student engagement in my current role. I am thrilled to be able to meet with these students to better understand what our students are experiencing as they navigate MSU and what we can do to improve their Spartan experience.