Degrees of Success


As the academic year draws to a close, the latest group of Spartan graduates soon will begin a new chapter as they take their MSU degrees, knowledge, and skills into the world.

If recent trends hold, more than 90 percent of Michigan State graduates will settle into jobs or graduate programs within six months, and more than 60 percent will live in Michigan. Four or five of 10 will graduate with student debt, averaging about $26,100. Although both numbers are lower than the state and national median for institutions of higher education it’s a hurdle we are committed to lowering by growing our financial aid and continuing our advocacy for restoration of state funding levels.

Given the shift of much of the cost of higher education from the state to students and their families, the importance of return on investment can’t be ignored. Possession of a quality degree greatly increases a person’s employability and prosperity for a lifetime, and Michigan State continuously works to increase students’ prospects for success.

To ensure more students complete their degrees, we’re revamping many academic program gateway courses, rethinking how some of our mathematics courses are structured, optimizing how we’re communicating with students, and adding more tutoring and advising resources in our residential neighborhoods.

And we are seeing strong results, including cutting first-year academic probation rates from 9.7 percent in 2013 to 7 percent this year. Because students on probation are far less likely to graduate, our success in the last couple years means that hundreds more Spartans will earn their degrees.

It made me extremely proud to help introduce 52 student winners of Board of Trustees’ Awards at the April board meeting. These awards go to students with the highest scholastic average at the close of their last semester, and all of them earned a 4.0 GPA—a record number!

Another validation of Michigan State’s strength and success came several weeks ago in a new global ranking. Times Higher Education ranked MSU among its 53 “international powerhouse” universities, those whose research output is exceptional but not fully reflected in their reputational rankings. The report noted this group of institutions has the best chance of catching up with—and even overtaking—some the world’s top universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, and the Ivy League. Not surprising to me, nine of the 53 are members of the Big Ten.

New graduates can take enormous pride in being part of a powerhouse university that provides opportunities and solutions for a better tomorrow. They join a global force of dynamic Spartan alumni more than half a million strong. It’s an amazing network that I encourage all alumni to engage with through the MSU Alumni Association and other university opportunities. It’s just one of the many benefits of being Spartans for life.


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