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FSA Parent Information

Congratulations on having your student accepted into the Spartan community! The information on this page is designed as an overview about the First-year Seminar Abroad and Away programs. If you have additional questions, e-mail fsabroad(at)


Based on 50 years of research, education abroad and away influence students in three major areas:

  • Personal development (e.g., confidence, handle change, self-esteem, etc.)
  • Professional development (e.g., career decision-making, language ability, teamwork, etc.)
  • Cultural awareness (e.g., ability to work with diverse people in diverse setting, knowledge of international issues, etc.)

Furthermore, from our experience with First-year Seminars Abroad/Away, we know that students also report an easier transition into "college" life, both socially and academically. Specifically, students report that participation in the program supports them in the following ways…

  • Comfort asking questions in class, approaching faculty members for help, and obtaining letters of recommendation;
  • Ability to navigate campus, live away from home, and manage their time and money;
  • Confidence in making friends and finding a support network on campus; and
  • Ability to interact with diverse people and ideas.

Recent research also suggests that students who go on a First-Year Seminar are more likely to have a higher first-year GPA, less likely to drop-out of MSU, and more likely to graduate in four years than non-participants. For these reasons, MSU believes that the First-Year Seminars Abroad/Away offer students an excellent learning and adjustment opportunity.


A key facet of college student success is forming a community of social and academic support. Based on evidence, this goal occurs with the First-Year Seminar model. First-Year Seminars are held to a 15:1 student/instructor ratio in the classroom environment, and this small-group environment helps students form connections with each other and the instructor. The broader programs can reach up to 30 students, and between the classroom experience and broader travel experience, students will have a lot of one-on-one time with each other and MSU professionals who care about their development and transition.


In addition to the teaching faculty, each program will have additional on-site staff whose role is to support the faculty and attend to non-classroom issues such as logistical support, student needs, and safety. On-site support staff members have experience and training related to working with first-year students in a co-curricular, student advising capacity.

While on site and in transit, the faculty and staff team will ensure that the group stays together and travels safely. During orientation, students and parents will receive all information relevant to contacting students and faculty, as well as MSU campus staff, during the program.


Program locations are selected based on their academic, cultural, and geographic appeal, the availability of affordable housing and amenities, and availability of reliable logistical support on site. MSU also considers the criteria of safety, security, and health.

MSU constantly monitors the safety of its programs and the conditions that exist within our host destinations. For more information on safety and Education Abroad, please refer to the Office for Global Health, Safety and Security.

In an emergency, please call our Emergency Assistance Line: 517-353-3784, or review Emergency Assistance.