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My Spartan Story Helps Spartans Codify Their Out-of-Classroom Experiences

Sarah Schultz

My Spartan Story is Michigan State University's new co-curricular record, formally recognizing and supporting student learning beyond the classroom,” says program director Sarah Schultz.

“Historically at MSU students have had a formal record of their credit bearing and learning through the academic transcript. And we at MSU know students are engaging in thousands of opportunities that are non-credit bearing and tied to MSU's undergraduate learning goals. And that has led to the creation of My Spartan Story and the Spartan Experience Record.”

Schultz says My Spartan Story initially was a project in MSU’s Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology started in 2016 with the goal of determining the focus and purpose of a co-curricular record at MSU.

“Students are engaging in many opportunities outside the classroom. And to list a few, think of students who are engaging in on-campus jobs, internships, leadership roles, undergraduate research, and volunteering in the greater community,” continues Schultz. “And think of those opportunities a student found through conversation with a faculty or staff mentor. Those are all opportunities we've known existed, but we haven't had a formal way to track and make further meaning of and really empower students to have recognition by MSU of their learning beyond the classroom. In fall 2020, we formally launched My Spartan Story. In the midst of a global pandemic, we are moving forward with the new academic year with a ramp up of our great new initiative for Spartans.”

Schultz explains how the program works for students and the significance of the Spartan Experience Record. My Spartan Story is an initiative that’s part of President Stanley's role on the Task Force on Higher Education and Opportunity.

“My Spartan Story is one of the key initiatives for the 2021 to 2022 academic year with the task force, with the key focus of supporting our students in their preparation for success in a post-pandemic economy. Therefore, My Spartan Story is empowering students with a brand new resource, supporting them directly in addressing many of their current concerns of feeling ready for that next step beyond MSU. The record directly includes a short description of their undergraduate learning experience outside of the classroom and the learning goals that they accomplished through the experience. It provides them with some great information to prepare for an interview, shape a resume, and as a whole, empower them to reflect on and synthesize their learning in its entirety at MSU.”

MSU is a leader and a trailblazer in this area.

“Yes, we are absolutely a trailblazer in the conversation on co-curricular records. My Spartan Story is one of a kind within the Big Ten, and we are one of a handful of institutions in the nation with these records. It is our goal in the next few years to be the largest comprehensive co-curricular record in the nation and truly be a leader for our campus and higher education as a whole.”

And what's been the reaction from employers and grad schools? Do they appreciate having a lot of these experiences codified?

“That's a great space we've begun to explore and get positive feedback from some initial employers we've put the record in front of. They have really provided excellent feedback to how this is a fantastic way for MSU to say, ‘Yes, the student not only engaged in this experience, but here's the rich learning they've taken away.’ Students can curate their records at the registrar level. Employers can really get a great sense of who the student is from a leadership role perspective and the great ways they've invested their time and talent outside of the classroom.”

MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870 and streams at WKAR.org. Find “MSU Today with Russ White” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.

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