Ronda Russell stands in front of the new class at Bobcat Stadium.

April 10, 2020

Dear prospective students, family members, and parents,

I am fortunate enough to have two children who call me their Mom. My children, like many of you, are not experiencing school as they imagined even in early March and my husband and I are no longer empty nesters. My son recently moved home from his freshman year at college. Gone are his new friends, his daily trips to the dining hall and what he had come to know as his spring semester class schedule. He’s in the basement working on online classes and thinking about where the future will take him. The food on campus is much better than the food here but he is not complaining. My daughter is in the first year of a PhD program out of state and she’s working diligently in the room next to me. Fortunately, my husband does not work online much as some days we experience internet outages like many others who are working from home. All this family togetherness time can be great yet, at other times, it creates special challenges and opportunities.  

I am fortunate enough to work with a large group of fabulous colleagues at Montana State who are now at home doing their best to stay in touch and be there for you remotely while trying to adjust to the new norm that we are all living in at the moment. Some of my staff and colleagues are managing situations like the one in my home, some have infants, toddlers, and school age kids on their laps during remote meetings, some are part time teachers in addition to theirregular jobs, others are alone now, isolated while others have assumed full responsibility for caring for elders. Does this all sound remarkably familiar to what’s going on in your homes and in your lives? My guess is yes. 

We’re all living a new normal and looking forward to the day when our lives can return to some semblance of what we came to take for granted in the past. Some of you reading this are seniors in high school. The losses you may be feeling regarding your senior year are unimaginable. No spring sports/going to state your senior year, no prom, no in person graduations and, maybe even more importantly to many of you, no in person time hanging out with your friends and just enjoying being high school students. Instead, many of you probably get a lot of bonus time hanging out in person with no one other than your family. For some, an extreme amount of family time was probably was not top of the list for the spring of your senior year. Thank goodness for technology which, hopefully, enables you to at least stay in touch virtually with those you miss.

When it comes to your college decision, the process is probably not what exactly you'd planned on and hoped for. It pained us at Montana State to shut our doors and ‘unwelcome’ you to visit our campus in person starting on March 16. Hundreds of you had already made plans to come see us this spring and we were all ready to welcome you with our very best MSU Bobcat visit experience. While we still can’t welcome you in person, please know that my team and I are still here for you. We are very open and available and want to do our very best to show you all that Montana State has to offer virtually. We realize that making a college choice is difficult for many under the best of circumstances. If you have not already done so, please reach out to us or to me directly to tell us how we can best help you.

  • Some of you have already had the chance to visit Montana State while others of you were hoping to do so this spring. Whether you want to check us out again or visit us for the first time, we’re ready for you. Please check out our virtual visit site here. You’ll be able to sign up for one on one meetings with one of our admissions counselors, attend group presentations for seniors (Bozeman Bound sessions), group presentations for younger students looking ahead (MSU Basics), information about upcoming webinars and current student panel discussions, links to our virtual campus tour, academic college information, Bookstore coupons and much more. We hope to ‘see’ you online soon!
  • Many of you are asking if the Covid-19 situation will impact MSU’s commitment date. MSU does not ask students to commit to enrolling by a certain date and does not require an enrollment deposit. We generally encourage students to follow the steps on our new student checklist to successfully join the Bobcat family. Please keep in mind that while registering for housing or signing up for an Orientation session is non-binding, both do have non-refundable fees associated with them. We encourage students to apply for housing as soon as possible to ensure that they are placed into a living community that is the best fit for them. You can learn more about housing here, and Orientation here.
  • Orientation/class registration will be held online for all sessions (summer and fall) for new students entering in the fall of 2020. Check out the embedded link for all the details. If you already registered for Orientation/Class Registration (either summer or fall) you should have already received details about the new online orientation. If you have not signed up or are recently admitted, we’ll be in touch soon.  We hope to welcome you all to our campus this fall with a Welcome Week extraordinaire.
  • If your personal circumstances require that you change your entry term to Spring or Fall 2021, it is not necessary for you to complete a new application. Please contact your Admissions Evaluatorto process that change.
  • We know getting academic documents in a timely fashion will be difficult or impossible for many students this spring. Our Admissions Evaluators will work with you individually to verify important academic information like your high school diploma. We will not require official, final documents until you arrive in the fall.
  • We are also aware that you may not have been able to take an ACT or SAT in the spring, please contact your Admissions Evaluator to facilitate your admission to MSU and plan for obtaining your test scores including an option to take the ACT on campus in our testing center.
  • We also know virtual schooling could impact your GPA. We will allow you to use your most recently available GPA and class rank to confirm your admission.
  • MSU will extend the deadline to accept many new student scholarship offers (Achievement Awards, Premier Scholarships and WUE Scholarships) until August 31 for new incoming students for the Fall 2020 term. If you update your entry term to Spring 2021, at a later date, you will get a revised offer for one of these awards similar to your fall offer.
  • Finances can be difficult any time, but times of uncertainty only complicate matters. If your circumstances have changed radically, please email us at admissions@montana.eduto assist in reviewing your merit based scholarship offer.
  • You may have heard by now of the Federal Stimulus package called the CARES Act. It does contain some options related to higher education. Those details should be out soon. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Montana State University Office of Financial Aid Services to discuss your situation.

No doubt, many of you have a wide variety of other questions. Please check out our frequently asked questions page which we are updating constantly. And never hesitate to reach out directly to me at: I would love to hear from you!

Our sense of gratitude extends to the families and students who have expressed interest in our university. We will do everything we can to provide the best possible online resources for you and hope that, soon, we’ll be able to welcome you to our Montana State University in person.

Ronda Russell
Director of Admissions
Montana State University
Bozeman, Montana 59717
888-MSU-CATS; 406-994-2452



Questions? We're here to help.

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us! You can email our staff at, or call us Monday - Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm MT at 1-888-MSU-CATS.