Success for Every Spartan | MSUToday

Build a Support Neighborhood

MSU’s residence hall system is one of the largest in the country, housing 16,000 students. About 10 years ago, MSU developed what it calls the Neighborhood Model, which is MSU’s signature approach to student success, grouping campus residence halls into “neighbourhoods.” Each is home to a Neighborhood Engagement Center where all the things students need to succeed can be found under one roof, from physical and mental health resources, academic support and counseling, and the ability to connect to a community.

The model has been noted for its success and was instrumental in MSU joining the University Innovation Alliance, a national coalition of public research universities committed to increasing the number and diversity of college graduates.

“Every year when we have families coming to campus, I tell parents if they only remember one thing, remember there are Neighborhood Engagement Centers in all five neighborhoods of MSU and to find out which one serves their student,” says Genyne Royal, associate dean of student success initiatives and director of the Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative.

This year, Royal and Wards staff are focused on rebuilding resources after the pandemic shifted the university to primarily distance learning and on returning and strengthening in-person support. Much of this support comes in the form of a 30% expansion of university councils. In addition to bringing in more advisers in the coming year, the type of advice provided is also changing.

“We want to go up to the students and say, ‘It looks like you’re having trouble with this’ or ‘How can I help you do this?’ Or offer help even when it’s not asked for and there’s no indication of a problem,” says Largent. “Students really respond to this type of individualized outreach.”

A student attends a career counseling session at a neighborhood engagement center.

In addition to proactive counseling, MSU bolsters the Spartan Experience Record, which tracks and verifies student learning in uncredited experiences. MSU is the only institution in the Big Ten to have developed an extracurricular record and one of the few in the country. The goal is to track learning wherever it occurs in order to capture the full picture of a student’s college experience. All recorded activities must be approved by faculty or staff to ensure a learning component is represented, and the final record is available to students from the Registrar’s Office along with their official transcript.

“We want to track learning wherever it happens on campus,” says Sarah Schultz, director of the Spartan Experience Record. “To date, we’ve had over 8,000 students with at least one experience on their Spartan Experience Record, and we’re growing daily. We really want to empower students to use their record to prepare for interviews, help shape a resume, and secure internships and jobs.

Experiences span more than two dozen colleges and divisions and include undergraduate research, overseas education, on-campus employment, community service, leadership opportunities in Greek life and student organizations as well as resident advisor roles at MSU residence halls.

MSU’s Career Services Network also plays an important role early in students’ college journeys, with career services professionals located in academic and centralized career centers on campus. Dozens of career events, including virtual and in-person job fairs, help students explore fields and connect with alumni and employers. Students can also find internship opportunities and enjoy on-campus employment. About 76% of undergraduates complete an internship at MSU.