About The Program

Q. Why do students choose to attend GVSU and enroll in the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program?

A. Students choose to attend Grand Valley State University and enroll in the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program for a number of reasons.  Some of the noted qualities of the program are its vast curriculum and the opportunity to be treated as professionals while working in a supportive environment.  Another attribute is the proximity of the Allendale campus to the City of Grand Rapids, which gives some students the unique experience of being able to work on two campuses.  Perhaps the most significant reason is the fact that the program allows students to shape their experiences in a way that will benefit them throughout their professional careers.


Q. What is the difference between the CSAL and the Adult and Higher Education program?

A. The College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program prepares its students on a more theoretical base to enter the Student Affairs job market.  Positions include Admissions, Orientation, Housing, Campus Recreation, and similar areas.  The Adult and Higher Education program prepares students for working with adult and higher education students and prepares students for more administrative positions in higher education.


Q. What is the cohort model like?

A. Each incoming class of new students comprises a cohort of students to provide a shared learning experience and community.  Each cohort completes many of the core classes together.  Students choose their own electives to fit what they want out of the program.


Q. How many students are in each cohort?

A. There are approximately 25-30 students in each cohort. 


Q. Do I need an assistantship in order to be a member of a cohort?

A. Though it is highly encouraged to have a graduate assistantship while going through the CSAL program, it is not a requirement. 


Q. What are the unique components of the CSAL program?

A. Among the most unique components of the CSAL program are the different options that students have to study abroad (yes, there is more than one option!).  Also, the CSAL program has two practicum experiences built into the curriculum, providing ample experiences to apply theory to practice.  Additionally, the cohort model creates a dynamic environment in which graduate students have a supportive community to help with their journey through the graduate program.


Q. How long does it take to complete the program?

A. The CSAL program is a two-year, 42 credit hour program with most students taking 6 credits during the summer after their first year.  Due to the cohort nature of the program all CSAL students must be full time and begin during the fall semester. 


Q. Are classes offered online?

A. Yes.  However, a majority of classes are on-site. 


Q. Are there opportunities for cultural immersion and study abroad in the CSAL program?

A. Yes—there are opportunities for CSAL to complete foundations course requirements abroad. There are also opportunities for students to participate in practicum/internship hours abroad. Additionally, students can consider participating in study abroad opportunities with outside higher education institutions with the option of credit transfer.


Q. Is there an orientation for CSAL students?

A. Yes, all incoming CSAL students are invited and highly encouraged to attend a CSAL specific orientation that is usually held in early August.  Both first and second-year students attend orientation. 


About CSAL Students

Q. Where do CSAL students come from?

A. Students entering the CSAL program have earned undergraduate degrees from 107 different institutions in 26 states and include students from three other countries.


Q. What majors do most incoming CSAL students have?

A. CSAL students enter the program bringing in a variety of undergraduate majors including business, sociology, art, biology, and a number of others.  Having such a diverse range of undergraduate experiences creates a rich classroom dynamic. 


Q. Is the program open to international students?

A. Yes, the CSAL program welcomes international students. 


Q. Are current students right out of their undergraduate experience or do they have prior full-time work experience?

A. Students entering the CSAL program come with a variety of backgrounds and experiences.  Some come directly out of an undergraduate degree program.  Others have been working in higher education or other areas and they realized they lacked the foundational knowledge and the credential of the master’s degree.  Some students were actively involved in student affairs as undergraduates and decided early on to make it a career.  Others later came to a realization that working with students in colleges and universities can provide a challenging and rewarding career.


Q. What is SAGA?

A. The Student Affairs Graduate Association (SAGA) is an organization for graduate students that are aspiring student affairs professionals.  SAGA provides opportunities for both professional and personal development through various opportunities including workshops, speakers, and networking events.


Admission Into The CSAL Program

Q. How do I apply for admission into the CSAL program?

A. Admission into the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program is administered by the GVSU College of Education in conjunction with the Admissions Office.  Applicants must first complete the Graduate Program Application, which is located under the “Apply” tab on the GVSU Admissions website (www.gvsu.edu/admissions).  Individuals that have not previously applied to Grand Valley are subject to a $30 nonrefundable application fee. 

Official copies of transcripts from all previously attended institutions of higher education are required. Transcripts must be sent directly from those institutions to the GVSU Admissions Office.  Official transcripts from Grand Valley are not required. 

General eligibility requirements for federal aid require a valid Social Security Number.  In order to assist financial aid processing, applicants should be sure to complete this field on the application.  In addition to the online application, applicants must be sure to upload three letters of recommendation.  A printable a recommendation form is located on the Admissions website (https://www.gvsu.edu/admissions/graduate-letters-of-recommendation-42.htm) . 

Once admitted into the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program, students will be invited to complete the CSAL Graduate Assistantship Application, which will allow them to compete for CSAL graduate assistantships.  Please note that the process of applying for admission into the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program is separate from the process of applying for CSAL graduate assistantships.  Both processes must be completed in order to be eligible for CSAL graduate assistantships.


Q. Is there a deadline for applying for admission into the CSAL program?

A. No, there is no deadline for applying for admission into the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program. Visitation Days for 2021 will take place February 18 and 19, 2021--interviews are currently full (application was due January 22, 2021).  Please note, you can still apply for a graduate assistantship, all positions that are not filled will be open to new candidates after April 15, 2021.

Q. Do I have to pass the GRE in order to be eligible for the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program?

A. No, the GRE is not required for admission into the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program unless your cumulative GPA is less than 3.0.


Q. Will I be interviewed when applying for admission to the College of Education?

A. No, interviews are not required for admission into the College of Education.  However, they are required when applying for graduate assistantships.


Q. When and how will I know that I have been admitted into the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program?

A. Admission into the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program is administered by the College of Education in conjunction with the University’s Admissions Office.  All required documents must be on file in the Admissions Office before one is considered eligible for admission (see above).  Students will receive notice of their admittance into the CSAL program via e-mail and U.S. mail.  For specific details surrounding the timeframe for notices, please contact the College of Education (coeserve@gvsu.edu).


CSAL Graduate Assistantships

Q. What is a graduate assistantship?

A. As stated on the GVSU Graduate School website (www.gvsu.edu/gs), a graduate assistantship is a work opportunity that programs and units at Grand Valley State University offer to graduate students. The benefits of a graduate assistantship include:

  • 10- or 20-hour per week work on campus or in the field.
  • Opportunities to conduct research, assist with instruction, or provide service to university constituents.
  • Tuition assistance in the form of a tuition waiver.
  • A bi-weekly stipend over a semester or academic year.
  • Paid student parking during the term of their assistantship.
  • Experience within their field of study.
  • An opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge in a professional setting.

Note: Grand Valley does not charge a higher tuition rate based on residency. Tuition is based on the program in which you chose to enroll. Visit the financial aid office webpage for tuition and fees.

Q. What is the difference between CSAL graduate assistantships and other graduate assistantships?

A. CSAL graduate assistantships are based on positions that are specifically recruiting students that have been admitted into the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program.  CSAL graduate assistants and their supervisors agree to perform their duties as outlined in the CSAL Manual. GVSU offers other graduate assistantships that may be open to CSAL students.  These positions can be found on the Graduate School website (www.gvsu.edu/gs) and are not a part of CSAL Visitation Days.


Q. Do I have to apply for a graduate assistantship in order to take part in the CSAL program?

A. No, students do not have to apply for CSAL graduate assistantships in order to enroll in the CSAL program.  Students may enroll in courses at their own expense or through the use of alternative funding sources.


Q. How and when can I apply for a CSAL Graduate Assistantship?

A. Once admitted into the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program (without conditions), the Program Director, Karyn Rabourn (rabournk@gvsu.edu) will send a link to the CSAL Graduate Assistantship Application to each eligible student via e-mail.  Students may then apply for the positions that are posted under the “Graduate Assistantship” section of the CSAL website (www.gvsu.edu/csal).

Q. Are non-CSAL students allowed to compete for CSAL graduate assistantships?

A. No, only current CSAL students are eligible to compete for CSAL graduate assistantships or to attend CSAL Visitation Days (see below).

Q. How do the Graduate Assistants receive their stipends?

A. Graduate assistants are paid via bi-weekly paychecks.  For information surrounding pay periods and pay dates, please visit the Student Employment website (www.gvsu.edu/studentjobs).

Q. Is there a difference in the amount of a housing graduate assistantship stipend and a non-housing graduate assistantship?

A. Yes, housing graduate assistants receive $7,120 for a 10-month appointment, housing accommodation, and a meal plan.  Non-housing graduate assistants receive $9,000 for a 10-month appointment.

Q. If I accept a graduate assistantship in housing, am I required to live in campus housing?

A. Yes, graduate assistants that are assigned to Housing and Residence Life are required to live in campus housing. 

Q. Is out of state tuition paid for in full?

A. If you have a 10-month CSAL designated contract, then, yes, all 42 credit hours will be paid for whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student.  If you have a 9-month CSAL designated contract, then all credits will be paid with exception of the 6 credits that are taken during the summer. 

Q. I recently received a letter stating that GVSU’s Admissions Office is missing one of my transcripts.  The transcript is on its way.  May I still apply for a graduate assistantship?

 A. No, only students that have successfully been admitted into the College of Education and completed the CSAL Graduate Assistantship Application are allowed to apply for CSAL graduate assistantships and attend CSAL Visitation Days (see below).  All required documents must be on file in GVSU’s Admissions Office.


Completing The CSAL Graduate Assistantship Application

Q. How do I access the CSAL Graduate Assistantship Application?

A. Upon admission into the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program the Program Director, Karyn Rabourn, (rabournk@gvsu.edu) will send a link to each student that has been admitted (without conditions) via e-mail.

Q. Will any other documents need to accompany my CSAL Graduate Assistantship Application?

A. Yes, along with the CSAL Graduate Assistantship Application, each applicant will need to submit: a personal statement that addresses the reasons that he/she is interested in the student affairs profession and graduate study as well as the skills that he/she will bring to a graduate assistantship and the CSAL program; a copy of his/her résumé; and three references.  A cover letter is optional.

Q. When completing the CSAL Graduate Assistantship Application, is there a particular way in which I must format my personal statement?

A. No, personal statements are not expected to be submitted in any particular format. However, they must address the reasons you are interested in the student affairs profession and graduate study as well as the skills you will bring to the graduate assistantship and CSAL program.

Q. May I use the same personal statement that I submitted when applying to the College of Education?

A. Yes, you may submit the same personal statement when completing the CSAL Graduate Assistantship Application.
 


Position Postings


Q. What is the difference between “Academic Year Opportunities” and “Extended Year Opportunities?”  May I apply for both?

A.  Academic year (9-month) opportunities are positions that begin on the first day of classes in the upcoming Fall semester and end on the last day of Exam Week during the upcoming Winter semester.  These positions will begin on Monday, August 24, 2020 and end on Friday, April 23, 2021.  Based on a 10-month contract, extended-year (10-month) positions begin four weeks prior to the first day of the upcoming Fall semester’s classes and end four weeks after the last Friday of the Winter semester’s Exam week.  Extended-year positions for the upcoming year will begin on Monday, July 27, 2020 and end on Friday, May 21, 2021.

Q. How competitive are the positions that are posted on the CSAL website?

A. Some positions are more popular than others.  The level of interest in each position also varies.  Applicants will be notified if the level of interest in positions that they apply for is significantly high.  Positions for which a low level of interest has been expressed will also be brought to their attention.

Q. I would like a position that is based in downtown Grand Rapids.  Do any of the GA positions operate out of the downtown campus?

A. Each year, the positions offered vary according to departmental submission.  Along with their locations, positions are posted on the CSAL website (www.gvsu.edu/csal) for review.

Q. Are there positions that will allow me to work with specified groups? 

A. The assistantships offered each year vary according to submission by departments.  Please check the CSAL website (www.gvsu.edu/csal) for a list of the positions that are offered. 

Q. Am I allowed to communicate with departments directly regarding the positions that are offered?

A. Yes, students may contact participating departments for informational purposes only.  The scheduling of interviews must be arranged by the Dean of Students Office.


About CSAL Visitation Days

Q. What is CSAL Visitation Days?

A. CSAL Visitation Days is a 2-day event that is held in association with the College Student Affairs Leadership (CSAL) program.  Each year, candidates for graduate assistantships in the CSAL program are invited to Grand Valley State University’s Allendale Campus. 

The agenda includes information about both the academic program and graduate assistantships as well as a tour of campus.  Time is also provided for candidates to meet with current graduate assistants in order to hear first-hand about their experiences in the program and at Grand Valley.  Job interviews for graduate assistantships are scheduled with departments that have openings.

Invitations to attend CSAL Visitation Days will be sent out after the January 15th deadline for CSAL Graduate Assistantship Applications.  Instructions for selecting interviews, signing up for housing, and a complete schedule will be included in the invitation. Please note that space is limited and offered on a first come, first served basis. 

Q. When are this year’s CSAL Visitation Days?

A. The 2021 CSAL Visitation Days will be held VIRTUALLY on February 18 & 19, 2021.  


Eligibility To Attend CSAL Visitation Days

Q. How are students that are invited to attend CSAL Visitation Days selected?

A. Karyn Rabourn (rabournk@gvsu.edu) the Program Director will receive a list of newly admitted CSAL students from the College of Education. A link to the CSAL Graduate Assistantship Application will be included in an email after you have applied for an assistantship. Only students that have been admitted into CSAL program without conditions and that have completed the CSAL Graduate Assistantship Application by the January 15, 2020 deadline will be invited to attend CSAL Visitation Days.  Invitations will be sent after the January 15th deadline.

Q. Are non-CSAL students allowed to attend CSAL Visitation Days or compete for CSAL graduate assistantships?

A. No, only newly admitted CSAL students are eligible to attend CSAL Visitation Days and compete for CSAL graduate assistantships.

Q. I am a second-year CSAL student that does not have a graduate assistantship.  May I participate in CSAL Visitation Days or apply for the posted positions?

A. No, if interested you may reach out to position supervisors directly.  For additional options, please visit the Graduate School’s website (www.gvsu.edu/gs).

Q. I recently received a letter stating that GVSU’s Admissions Office is missing one of my transcripts.  The transcript is on its way.  May I still apply for assistantships and attend CSAL Visitation Days? 

A. No, only students that have successfully been admitted into the College of Education and completed the CSAL Graduate Assistantship Application are allowed to apply for CSAL graduate assistantships and attend CSAL Visitation Days.  All required documents must be on file in GVSU’s Admissions Office.

Q. I was admitted into the CSAL program with conditions in place.  Am I allowed to attend CSAL Visitation Days?

A. No, students admitted conditionally are not permitted to attend CSAL Visitation Days.


Event Format And Attendance

Q. Is the same information provided on each day of CSAL Visitation Days?  In other words, do I actually have to attend both days of CSAL Visitation Days or should I let you know which day I would like to attend?

A. CSAL Visitation Days is a 2-day event.  A different agenda is assigned for each day.  On Thursday, February 19 students will learn details surrounding the CSAL program and its operations and may have scheduled interviews.  Friday, February 19 will include interviews and drop-in opportunities to connect with students and faculty. 

Q. I am a GVSU student who has an exam on Thursday.  Is it okay for me to come back and forth during that day?

A. While we prefer for students to attend the entire event, we understand that circumstances may arise.  Please contact Karyn Rabourn (rabournk@gvsu.edu) regarding such questions or concerns.

Q. I am unable to attend CSAL Visitation Days.  Are there other arrangements that I can make?

A. Yes, individuals that are unable to attend CSAL Visitation Days may arrange to interview at another time. In order to do so, please contact Karyn Rabourn (rabournk@gvsu.edu). 
 

Q. I looked at the postings on the CSAL website and only saw one that I am interested in.  Do I have to interview for three positions?  May I still attend CSAL Visitation Days if I choose not to?

A. Although they are encouraged to diversify their selections in order to improve their odds of being offered a position, students that attend CSAL Visitation Days are not required to interview for three positions.

Q. If I attend CSAL Visitation Days, do I have to attend Grand Valley?

A. No, we understand that not every student that attends CSAL Visitation Days, or is admitted into the CSAL program, will enroll in classes at GVSU.  We also know that some students that choose to attend GVSU will decide to enroll in other programs.  However, we do ask students that choose not to enroll in CSAL courses to extend the courtesy of letting us know that they have chosen to withdraw from the CSAL program.  In order to do so, please send a brief e-mail message to Karyn Rabourn (rabournk@gvsu.edu). 


Preparing To Attend CSAL Visitation Days

Q. What is the dress code for CSAL Visitation Days?

A. CSAL Visitation Days is a 2-part event.  Business casual is appropriate for events and business professional attire is appropriate for interviews. 

Q. Will I need to be prepared to take a photo during CSAL Visitation Days?

A. No, photos will not be taken during CSAL Visitation Days.

Q. When will I receive my itinerary for CSAL Visitation Days?  How will I receive it?

A. Students that register to attend CSAL Visitation Days will receive an e-mail message from Karyn Rabourn (rabournk@gvsu.edu) with a copy of the overall itinerary for the 2-day event attached.  Personalized schedules with details surrounding the time and locations of specific interviews will be sent to students approximately one week prior to CSAL Visitation Days.



CSAL Graduate Assistantship Interviews


Q. How many people will sit in on my interview?

A. The number of individuals seated on each interview committee will vary by department.  Interview committees typically consist of 2-5 individuals.

Q. How long will my interviews be?

A. Each interview will be slated to last for 20 minutes.

Q. How many additional students may interview for each position?

A. The number of students that interview for each position varies.  Applicants will be accepted for each position as long as time allows.
 


Following CSAL Visitation Days

Q. When and how will I know if I have been offered a CSAL graduate assistantship?

A. Individual offers will begin the week of March 1. Candidates will be contacted via telephone by Program Director, Karyn Rabourn. The process of finalizing the list of future graduate assistants takes weeks.

Q. Am I allowed to turn an offer for a graduate assistantship down for one that I want more?

A. While a student may turn down a graduate assistantship in hopes of being selected for another, doing so is not recommended as they will forfeit eligibility for that position.  The offer will then be extended to another student.  There is no guarantee that an offer for another graduate assistantship will be extended.

Q. What if I am not selected for a CSAL graduate assistantship?

A. Not every applicant will be granted a CSAL graduate assistantship upon attending CSAL Visitation Days.  Students that interview and are not selected are still eligible to attend Grand Valley and enroll in CSAL courses at their own expense or by use of alternative funding.  Students that choose not to enroll in courses are welcome to reapply and attend CSAL Visitation Days in the future.  Postings for other graduate assistantships are located on the Graduate School’s website (www.gvsu.edu/gs).