Getting Started at MSU

September 10, 2015
There is a student organization to suit every affinity and interest.

There is a student organization to suit every affinity and interest.

Welcome to the Banks of the Red Cedar!

Your first weeks at Michigan State have the potential to be the most memorable and important times of your entire college career. There’s a good chance you’ll make lifelong friends, meet influential mentors, and create lasting memories. Student Affairs and Services is here to ensure that your journey as a new student is successful.

“This is such an exciting time!” says Dr. Denise B. Maybank, Vice President for Student Affairs and Services. “There is so much to learn, see, and do. During these first weeks, I encourage every student to do something new. Make a new friend. Visit a different place. Explore!”

In addition to exploring the wide array of MSU Student Affairs departments and programs found under Living, Learning, Leading, Culture & Identity, and Health, Wellness, Safety, read on for some suggestions about what you can (and should) do to start your time at MSU on the right foot.

A wealth of experiences beyond the classroom awaits.

Paint the Rock

The Rock on Farm Lane, across the street from Bessey Hall and next to the Auditorium, is a campus landmark that dates back over 140 years, when it was donated to the college by the class of 1873. Today it functions as a type of billboard, painted almost every day by students. It has displayed marriage proposals, names of student organizations, dates of upcoming events, and political statements, among other things. Students will often camp out at the Rock until midnight to gain possession of it. At that point, one or two students will usually stay by the Rock for the entire day to watch over and protect their message. What will you paint on the Rock?

Even Sparty gets into Greek Life.

Even Sparty gets into Greek Life.

Check Out All That Rec Sports Has to Offer

There are numerous ways to stay physically active at MSU. There’s still time to register for a variety of competitive intramural sports (view the schedules on as well as join a club sport (a sport run by a student organization). Beyond sports, the university’s three intramural fitness facilities offer memberships that can be purchased for either one or two semesters. There’s also a package deal that includes additional access to all group exercise classes and the outdoor pool. The sooner you buy a membership, the more value you can get out of it. The fitness centers and group exercise classes can also be accessed through a one-time $3 fee—perfect for people who want to try things out first.

Read the State News

The State News is MSU’s student-run newspaper. It covers issues and events on campus and in the community. It also accepts and publishes letters to the editor, which are a great opportunity to let your voice be heard. A new issue of the State News comes out every weekday during the academic year, delivered to dozens of spots on campus, including residence halls. Students can pick up a copy for free. And breaking news is posted online at

Attend the SARV workshop

The Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Prevention Program (SARV) is a required workshop for all first-year and transfer students. Incoming students must attend one two-hour workshop that will be facilitated by undergraduate peer educators. The workshop will explore the definitions of sexual assault, rape, and relationship violence, and offer ways in which students can become active bystanders in the prevention of sexual violence from occurring to themselves, their friends, and their peers.

You will receive an email inviting you to sign up for a workshop sometime during your first year at MSU. You aren’t required to do this right away, but keep in mind that the last sessions of the year fill up fast. It’s best to do this as soon as you can! Learn more and sign up at

Buy a Bus Pass

Off-campus students will particularly benefit from having a CATA bus pass. The buses can take you all across campus and the surrounding Greater Lansing area. Familiarize yourself with the routes at Passes can be purchased at a variety of locations, including the MSU ID Office in the International Center.

Navigating campus via the Red Cedar River.

Navigating campus via the Red Cedar River.

Meet with a Career Advisor

It’s never too early to plan for life after college! MSU’s Career Advisors in the Career Services Network specialize in helping students plan their career trajectory, advising them on what to major in or which classes to take, and getting them connected with internships, jobs, student organizations, and volunteering and research opportunities that will help them reach their goals. The Career Advisors also offer resume help and advice. Check out Career Services:

Set Up a Profile on MySpartanCareer

MySpartanCareer is an online portal open only to MSU students and recent graduates that posts hundreds of jobs and internships. Students can fill in information about themselves to find opportunities that fit them best. Most on-campus work can be found only through MySpartanCareer, so don’t ignore this important site.

Check Your Email Every Day!

Lots of important information will be finding its way into your MSU inbox throughout the year. Never go too long without logging into and checking your messages.

Attend a Greek event

The fraternity and sorority system is one of the largest, most active communities at Michigan State. MSU has more than 50 Greek chapters, representing all four major Greek councils. Recruitment events offer the perfect opportunity to learn more about what Greek Life stands for so you can decide if joining a Greek organization is right for you. Regardless of whether you came to college expecting to go Greek, or have never considered the idea, learning more is easy during recruitment.

See a Movie at the Campus Center Cinema

The University Activities Board plays recently released movies every Thursday through Sunday on campus. MSU students can attend for free. Check the titles and showtimes at

Purchase Sports Tickets

Visit to buy tickets for Spartan athletic events.

Drop/Add Classes

If you decide to switch up your class schedule after the semester begins, it’s highly recommended that you first consult with your advisor. Friday, September 28 is the last day you can receive a refund for any fall semester courses. If you’re going to drop a class, talk to your advisor before this date.

Grand River Avenue often is abuzz with activity.

Grand River Avenue often is abuzz with activity.

Explore Grand River and Beyond

Grand River Avenue runs along the northern edge of campus in the heart of downtown East Lansing. Spend some time walking along the avenue and you’ll discover dozens of shops, eateries, and services–places you’ll undoubtedly frequent during your time as a Spartan. Get to know some of the  traditional haunts of generations of students, or begin some traditions of your own by visiting a newer shop or restaurant today. Visit to start your exploration.

Check Out the Registered Student Organizations

With over 700 registered student organizations on campus, there’s bound to be something for everyone. There are academic, athletic, professional, and identity-based groups, among others. MSU’s new system for RSOs, Community, makes it easy to browse the wide selection of organizations you can become involved in. It also gives meeting times and locations as well as the contact information for the leaders of each group. Joining a student organization is one of the quickest ways to meet people who share the same interests as you, which is why new students especially should check this out. Learn about RSOs here:

For more on what you can do beyond the classroom, when to do it, and how to become an engaged Spartan during your first weeks on campus, explore the Student Affairs and Services website.

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