Published: Aug. 25, 2017

Back-to-school tips

Contact(s): Kristen Parker University Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709, Andy Henion Media Communications office: (517) 355-3294 cell: (517) 281-6949

As students gear up for the 2017-18 academic year, experts share a variety of tips and advice on topics ranging from health to personal security.

Classes start Aug. 30. 

Our Commitment

Jessica Norris, director of Title IX and ADA Compliance and Education Programs, said MSU’s commitment to cultivating an educational environment that is free of sex discrimination and sexual violence stems from MSU’s core value of inclusiveness.

“It is important that all community members are familiar with the expectations outlined in MSU’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy and are aware of the programs, resources and reporting options at MSU. We each play an important role in fostering a culture of caring and respect at MSU. I encourage students to identify ways they can get involved and join us in our work to end sexual violence and sex discrimination.” 

Contact Norris at (517) 353-3922 or

Student Success

Kris Renn, professor of higher, adult and lifelong education and associate dean of undergraduate studies/director for student success initiatives, said MSU believes every Spartan belongs here and can succeed academically, socially and personally. 

“Student success is everyone’s job: faculty, staff and students. It’s important for new and returning students to understand that part of being a successful Spartan is using academic resources available and taking action to do things like form study groups in classes, go to instructor office hours, ask for help at the library reference desk, go to free tutoring in the Neighborhood Engagement Centers and meet with academic advisers.” 

Contact Renn at (517) 353-5979 or

Matthew Wawrzynski, associate professor and coordinator of higher, adult and lifelong education, said student engagement is at the center of student success.

“The university can use its resources to create the types of environments where students can be successful, but students also need to do their part and invest time and energy in being engaged at the university - both in and out of the classroom. When it comes to being successful in class, I encourage students to go to class and be on time; sit up front in the same seat so that it seems like the only people in class are the people to their side and the faculty member in front; come prepared to class and engage in the topic, write down two or three questions from readings you would like to discuss; and go to office hours to talk with faculty. Finally, technology can be a wonderful tool, but too often students’ use of technology often distracts them from being present, physically and mentally in class. Figure out ways to unplug for the time you are in class.”

Contact Wawrzynski at (517) 355-6617 or

Education Abroad

Christine Trinidad, assistant director of enrollment management and student services at the Office for Education Abroad, said MSU offers innovative programming where students have the opportunity to study, research, intern and participate in service-learning in more than 60 countries around the world. 

“Students who participate in education abroad programs are developing meaningful skills that add value to their MSU degree and position them for a successful career,” Trinidad said.  “Our office is here to help students find a program that meets their needs and interests.”

Contact Trinidad at (517) 432-1315 or

International Students

James Dorsett, director of the Office for International Students and Scholars, said cross-cultural connections can lead to benefits for all involved.

“Although it might feel uncomfortable at first for international and U.S. students to get to know each other, those relationships can really help both parties. The U.S. students can gain a better understanding of another culture without traveling there, while the international students can more quickly learn about their new home and perhaps improve their English, providing a win-win both ways.” 

Contact Dorsett at (517) 353-1741 or

Cyber Security

Seth Edgar, chief information security officer for IT Services, said students should be vigilant about their security online and over the phone.

“Always double-check who you’re giving information to, especially if it’s sensitive. If you receive a call or email claiming to be from an organization that handles your sensitive information, contact that organization at a good phone number or email address. If the notification/request is legitimate, any support person at that organization should be easily able to find it.”

Contact Edgar at (517) 432-5318 or

Health and Wellness

Scott Becker, director of Counseling and Psychiatric Services at Olin Health Center, said mental health is everyone’s business and we can all contribute to creating a healthy, supportive university community.

“Students often consider their mental health to be a very personal or private matter, sometimes including the perception that mental health struggles are stigmatized and therefore a source of embarrassment or shame. This fall, MSU has created a new unit, Counseling and Psychiatric Services, located on the third floor of Olin Health Center, and we would like to reframe this issue, moving toward the idea that mental health is largely the result of healthy relationships, a collective sense of identity, purpose and belonging and a shared commitment to creating a university culture of compassion, mutual support and diversity.” 

Contact Becker at (517) 355-8270 or

Dennis Martell, health promotion department coordinator for Olin Health Center, said health gives students the freedom to be successful both in life and academics. 

“Health is about the capacity you have at this moment to engage in your development as a person and a citizen of this world. Health is not about how many fruits and vegetables you eat or how many push-ups you do on any given day. It is about your ability and skills to engage with others at the same time aspiring to improve oneself and the world around you.”

Contact Martell at (517) 432-1031 or

Kristin Traskie, SPARTANfit program coordinator for Olin Health Center, said students are often unaware of the programs MSU offers to optimize wellness.

“College is a time of great opportunity in a student’s life, but many students don’t realize what they can do to support themselves in attaining or maintaining optimal health and wellness. MSU has numerous offerings to support students to do just that, from wellness coaching to mindfulness classes, abundant fitness opportunities to nutrition services or the newly formed Counseling and Psychiatry Services, also called CAPS. Students need to be proactive in identifying and creating the conditions in their life that will lead and support them to maximize these opportunities and live a life of engagement, thriving and academic success both at MSU and beyond.”

Contact Traskie at (517) 353-0718 or

Kara Schrader, assistant professor of health programs and family nurse practitioner, said that many college students feel a great deal of stress during the school year, which can be overwhelming if not kept under control.

“Anxiety and depression can occur if stress gets out of hand. Here are three easy to remember tips that students can do to prevent stress from affecting their health and success with school:

  1. Exercise: Stay active with 30 minutes of vigorous exercise daily, even if this is walking quickly from class to class instead of driving or riding the bus.
  2. Sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for brain function and decision making. Good planning of the day to include a good night's sleep in essential for the body to recover and begin fresh the next day.
  3. Eat: Taking time to eat and choosing healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits and healthy protein sources will help curb the urge to eat junk food later on. Packing healthy, portable snacks to eat between classes can help with focus during class-time.”

Contact Schrader at (517) 353-8679 or


Ignacio Andrade, community outreach coordinator for the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, said MSU’s diverse community is a prime location to develop students’ capacity to understand, work with and influence diverse groups of people.

“With students from every county in Michigan, every state in the U.S. and from more than 130 countries around the world, MSU has built a diverse community. Spartans understand there is strength in our differences and this is why at MSU we are constantly working to build bridges between people from all different backgrounds. Now, more than ever, strong intercultural communication and a deeper understanding of cultural differences are essential for success. Students are encouraged to take full advantage of all the resources MSU has to offer, including developing intercultural intelligence and leadership skills with the help of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives.”

Contact Andrade at (517) 353-4563 or

Wear Masks