Staff profiles: Laura Cole
Meeting the housing needs of the largest on-campus residence population in the country — about 15,000 college students — is something Laura Cole says her staff does exceptionally well.
"For the number of students that we house, we really do go above and beyond in trying to meet their needs," said Cole, assistant manager of the Housing Assignments Office in Campus Living Services and Residence Life.
Summer is the busiest time of the year for the staff in the Housing Assignments Office. In early June, incoming students are emailed about the MSU neighborhood in which they will live.
"We get really, really busy that week that the students get their first notification of the neighborhood that they are in," Cole said. "It's kind of all hands on deck."
Nine full-time staff members and five to eight student staff members handle the flood of inquiries that come in from students, parents and others.
"We try to get their question answered on the first attempt," Cole said. "We want to minimize having them get transferred here or there."
Cole works with a number of partners across campus — including Office of Admissions, MSU’s living-learning environments and the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities — to provide students with the best on-campus living experience possible.
Staff members from the Housing Assignments Office are present to answer questions during Academic Orientation Program, which begins June 11 this year and runs throughout the summer.
"The deadline for a new student to request a roommate is May 1, but once students come to AOP, they meet people, and if they didn’t have a request already, they often want to request somebody that they've met and feel comfortable with," Cole said. "We try to honor all of the requests that we get."
Cole said compared to other Michigan schools — many of which have a smaller student population — the MSU Housing Assignments Office goes the extra mile to accommodate the needs of its students.
"If their housing placement isn’t one in which they're comfortable in, they're probably not going to have a good overall experience," she said. "Something that may seem small and insignificant to one person might make or break one student's whole first semester here or first year here or their decision about staying here versus going home. So we take it very seriously."
Cole loves interacting with students and enjoys easing parents' minds about their children moving away to college.
"If a parent calls us up with a concern, I enjoy making them feel better and assuring them that their child is in good hands," she said.