Aug. 21, 2019
Somehow, it's that time of year again. Students have started to move back to campus and this weekend, more than 8,500 new Spartans will make this place home. Check out the beautiful video in the MSUTODAY FEATURE: You are a Spartan, to see how we're welcoming students to campus and providing some nostalgia for alumni.
Make sure to listen for some familiar Spartan voices like Kirk Cousins, Tyler Oakley and Tom Izzo, but also some you don't know yet like student Chelsie Boodoo or Professor Dorinda Carter. I dare you not to get goosebumps while you watch.
All over campus, people are getting ready to start new chapters and make the coming year fantastic. People like Monique Turner, who starts this semester as the new chairperson of the Department of Communication in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. Check out her FACULTY VOICE: Your voices matter, to read what message she has for students and alumni as we start a new year.
New students will come with expectations and returning students will arrive with new perspectives. Students like Nina Biundo, a vet med student who spent the summer caring for animals in Thailand. Read Nina's STUDENT VIEW: Service learning in the Land of Smiles, where she shares what she gained from the experience.
As I prepare for the mass arrival of more than 50,000 students in the next couple of weeks, I was trying to think about what advice I could give those students when I remembered — been there, done that.
Since Spartans are into recycling and sustainability, I thought it wouldn't hurt to repeat the advice I offered four years ago since those freshmen have already graduated and are out making their mark on the world.
There's some basic advice — Don't skip class. Do your homework. Set your alarm. Be careful. Have fun. Make friends. Get a fan. Make good choices. Buy a bus pass. Pick a good major. Get good grades. Don't take early classes. The regular advice goes on and on for new college students. (But seriously, get a fan…it might be hot for a while.) But more than just the practical advice for freshmen, I offer the following for all students:
- Be grateful. This isn't just college. This is one of the most incredible opportunities ever presented to you. Many young people around the world would give anything to go to school and will never be able to. Never, ever forget how fortunate you are and remember to thank those who helped you get here. Don't ever take being a Spartan for granted.
- Make the most of it. This is a very special place. You could simply go to class, do your work and earn your degree — but you would be missing out on so much more that is offered here. Join one of the hundreds of clubs. Look into undergraduate research offerings. Volunteer in the community. Go to museums. Take in a show. The options are endless. If you are bored, you aren't trying hard enough.
- Give back. You are now part of the Spartan family — more than a half a million strong around the world. This family believes that giving back is just part of who we are. You don't have to cure cancer to make a difference (though some of you might do that too). Fill the bus. Tutor a classmate. Pick up trash. Run a food drive. Shovel snow for someone who can't. You have talents and time that can help someone else and trust me; you'll never feel bad about helping someone else.
- Be bold. Don't sit back and let life happen to you — this is the only one you get so make it great. Try something new. Stand up for what's right. Stand up for others. Explore everything. Look at the world of possibilities before you and attack them. You never want to have regrets.
- Be genuine. Don't ever try to be someone you aren't — everyone can see right through that. With more than 50,000 students on this campus, I guarantee that there is someone else who will like you just as you are.
- Be open to new things. College is about learning — so learn something! For goodness sake, find a way to do a study abroad course. Expand your worldview to one outside of our borders. Become a global citizen who understands other cultures. Talk to people everywhere who are very different from you. Expose yourself to diverse opinions, ideas and people and you will be amazed at how much you can learn.
- Never give up. Spartans don't give up; they just don't. College isn't easy — if it were, everyone would do it. You will have challenges but fight them head-on. Find solutions to the toughest problems. Give everything your all and simply find a way. You might not be perfect, but never throw in the towel completely. You don't have to go it alone — ask for help when you need it.
- Be collaborative. This one kind of goes with being open to new things. Project an openness that lets others know you're approachable, and approach others with a spirit of partnership. Every single Spartan has something special to offer the world, but our collective power is simply astounding. Find the best in others and work together to make a difference.
- Be passionate. College is a place where you can discover what you love. You might start thinking you'll follow one career path and find another that makes your heart sing. Follow what you love — you will spend a huge portion of your life working, so make sure it's what you truly want to do.
- Seek out mentors. Life is hard and everyone can use some help. Talk to your professors or graduate assistants. Do an internship and find someone in the field to guide you. Never think you have all the answers and know that, most likely, someone else has faced whatever you're facing. We old folks love nothing better than giving advice so use us.
- Be proud. Being a Spartan is something special and a privilege. Spartans will change the world and solve the most challenging problems. Amid all the schoolwork and fun, never ever forget that Spartans Will.
Photo by Alyssa Maturen