A masked person holds up a bleach dyed black t-shirt that says JABS

Hello, Bobcat parent and family members of first-year students,

We are in the sixth week of the fall semester, and I cannot recall a prettier autumn. Cool mornings, bright sunny days, and the best of the season's colors I've seen in years. Add a little snow and it's lovely!

Today, I will focus on the positive side of retention -- why students stay in college. Students persist not only when they do well academically but also when they feel a sense of belonging. Think Maslow's hierarchy of needs in which belonging is one of the most fundamental psychological components in this theory of motivation. When students feel like they fit in, they join others in activities and form relationships.

Students who make meaningful connections on campus are more likely to return for subsequent semesters. For many students, though, this isn't as simple as it seems. Our goal is for students to have a variety of touchpoints with MSU, so dropping out isn't a consideration when they experience a setback. We want MSU to feel like their home away from home.

In Jabs, we are passionate about all things business and seek to challenge students, but we want them to enjoy their classes and feel at ease asking for support when they need it.

Our co-curricular programs are designed to help students get a real-world sense of why and how business education can be crucial for the economic health and vitality of communities, regions, and countries. For example, we recently hosted a guest speaker, Edwardo Garcia, co-founder of Montana Mex, who shared his story as an avid outdoorsman, entrepreneur, and chef. His story demonstrated that with a refuse-to-quit attitude and uncompromised determination, anything is possible. The event was required for all first-year business majors, so you might ask your student about it. That's just one example of an opportunity for engagement.

MSU also offers hundreds of student clubs and organizations. In fact, there's a club for everyone -- from gaming to backcountry skiing, community service to chess and ceramics. Take a look above at a business student participating in a bleach dyeing activity with our American Marketing Association student chapter.

Clubs can be an excellent way for students to make friends and establish strong ties to MSU. Yet only 15 percent of our freshmen will have joined a club by the end of their first year. And our seniors tell us that student clubs are critical to their college success and that we should require first-year students to join!

That's it -- it's not rocket science. We just need to help our students find their people, their niche, their sense of belonging that makes MSU feel like home.

Next week, I'm excited to offer ideas on how you can support your first-year student.




Brenda Truman
Assistant Dean of Student Services & Retention


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