Supporting student success and social mobility


Two recent stories, one in Bridge Magazine, another on WDIV-TV, reported on Michigan State University’s success in supporting not only students’ academic success, but also their social mobility. Using Bridge’s index, MSU rises to the top of the list because “MSU ranked among the top five in cost, graduation rate and salaries for low-income students, as well as salary equity between former rich and poor students 10 years after enrollment.” The WDIV story notes “some low-income college students are failing because they don't have the right help, but one university is leading the way when it comes to fulfilling their promise for a path to prosperity.” That one university is MSU.

It’s rewarding to see these stories circulated broadly, especially because of how directly they’re tied to the fundamental mission and core values of MSU. As President Simon says in her Statement on Core Values, “our commitment to inclusion means we embrace opportunities for all. It means that we ensure individuals who come from ordinary backgrounds but who possess extraordinary talents, passion, and determination can find the path to success.” 

From its very start, MSU has been a place of open doors and bold commitments. We’ve always made a deliberate effort to reach out to a broader range of students—and to provide them with opportunities to succeed academically and, in turn, professionally. Central to our ability to provide opportunities are the programs we’ve put in place to support student success—programs that provide help before students even set foot on campus, that persist throughout their time here as students, and that extend beyond graduation.

As both the Bridge and WDIV stories note, that type of early commitment and sustained follow-through differentiate MSU from its in-state peers.

MSU’s pre-college programs, TRIO Student Support Services, Neighborhoods, and Student Success Transformation Program all function as interconnected initiatives united to improve degree attainment for all MSU students, especially lower-income and first-generation students. The recently launched Student Success Transformation Program brings new capabilities to MSU that enhance services for students, through innovative student success practices backed by contemporary technology. It is currently comprised of several initiatives:

  • Student success systems, including
    • an advising platform with predictive analytics and degree planning,
    • a dashboard to help measure impact of interventions
  • Early warning systems, including
    • Enhancing Academic Success Early (EASE), which is a rewrite of the Freshman Early Warning and Academic Program report systems
    • MapWorks
  • Business process improvement, including
    • improving the student communication experience

I’m appreciative of our faculty members who have committed themselves to our many initiatives working to foster students’ academic success. Faculty have quickly adopted use of the EASE early warning system which began last semester and is helping us help students more swiftly and with greater ability to focus on their immediate needs. The Student Success Dashboard, an integrated advising platform set to launch on May 16, is being implemented in two phases, with the first phase including about half of the advising entities across the Neighborhoods and academic colleges. Ongoing course and curriculum re-design have been aimed at assuring that our goals for deep student learning are actually being achieved. As is often the case here at MSU, our world-class, forward-thinking faculty continue to drive our success in robustly supporting students’ academic success.

The success we’ve achieved was recently reinforced with funding from three major foundations. Along with our 10 University Innovation Alliance partners, MSU will apply $3.85 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, and USA Funds to further enhance student success programs, graduate more students across the socioeconomic spectrum, and promote social mobility. We are grateful for this support.

Individually and collectively, these initiatives are helping Michigan State University continue to fulfill its commitment to support the academic success of every admitted student. While the ways we bolster our support for students continues to evolve, our commitment to their success remains evergreen.