ACCESS students are completely integrated into the campus community. Students live in on-campus housing and receive the same amenities as all students attending Mississippi State University. ACCESS students have a great deal of freedom on campus, and our expectation is that they will negotiate transitions between classrooms and buildings, meals, and non-academic activities independently and unsupervised after an initial orientation training.
The number one goal of many of our students is to live independently. ACCESS strongly promotes autonomy but also provides the necessary scaffolding to help build the skills and confidence needed to achieve independence. As soon as students enter ACCESS, they are fully immersed in the college life from living in MSU residence halls to attending classes to participating in campus and community events. This will be a new and often challenging experience for some, but safety is always our top priority. Our students will continually have the support to help them grow along with the security to keep them safe.
Independent Living courses are offered each semester and focus on key elements of autonomy. Classes are designed to train students to be successful during and after college by educating them about cooking, hygiene, budgeting, relationships, public transportation, safety, and many more aspects of independent living.
As a foundation to independent living, ACCESS students are required to live on campus. ACCESS students live in 7 different residence halls on the north and south sides of campus. Each room is equipt with a restroom, full-size refrigerator, a microwave, 2 extra-long twin beds, 2 desks, and 2 dressers.
Safety is a top priority at MSU and ACCESS. Residents must pass through multiple security points prior to entering residence halls and rooms, and there is always an attendant at the main desk. Room checks are performed bi-monthly by College Coaches to inspect for any safety hazards and to help create good hygiene and healthy living habits. Resident Advisors and Resident Directors are familiar with the needs of ACCESS students and are prepared to provide assistance, if necessary. An RA or RD is on-call 24/7 and a member of the ACCESS staff is on-call during the evenings and on weekends. To learn more about on-campus living at Mississippi State, please visit the Housing and Residence Life website at www.housing.msstate.edu.
At ACCESS, we love to eat! You can find our students dining in or grabbing to-go meals at any one of the 23 restaurants on campus or eating in one of Starkville’s various restaurants throughout the community. We understand that students love to eat out, eat quickly, and eat cheaply. However, we strive to teach our students the importance of nutritious meals and meal-planning. Through Independent Living courses, students learn all aspects of meal-planning and preparation. ACCESS engages students in the entire process from researching meals, preparing a budget, going to the grocery store, navigating the grocery store, preparing the meal, and finally, serving the meal. Students actually prepare meals with their peers and have a great time doing it! All ACCESS students are strongly encouraged to purchase a meal plan through MSU. There are various types of plans at varying costs. Please visit MSU Dining at www.msstatedining.campusdish.com to explore the various dining options and meal plan costs.
A major advantage for all MSU students is the S.M.A.R.T. bus, a free public transportation system that serves Starkville and Mississippi State University. From the very first day, ACCESS students begin learning how to navigate campus on foot and by bus. The S.M.A.R.T. bus is operated by Mississippi State University Parking and Transit Services. The buses are very clean, the drivers are always friendly and helpful, and there is at least one ADA accessible bus provided per route.
ACCESS seniors who intern off-campus will ride the S.M.A.R.T. bus to their job sites. All job sites are located near a bus stop. College Coaches will ride with their students to their destinations until the students are familiar with the routes and comfortable traveling independently. To learn more about the S.M.A.R.T. bus system visit www.smart.msstate.edu.
ACCESS students are required to maintain a budget while at MSU. Students, with the help of their College Coaches, balance their checking accounts, allocate funds for various needs (groceries, toiletries, class supplies, recreation, etc.), and deposit funds. These skills are applied in real-world settings where students participate in activities such as shopping on a budget, dining out and tipping, and attending entertainment/recreational events.
ACCESS has emergency plans in place for our students and prepare new plans annually according to our students’ needs. Resident Advisors and Resident Directors are on-call 24/7 and an ACCESS staff member is on-call weekdays from 5pm to 8am and 24 hours a day on weekends.
Disability Support Services and ACCESS assist in determining the classroom accommodations that are most appropriate for students with disabilities based on documentation of their disability. ACCESS staff members will communicate with instructors regarding accommodations for students. Examples of classroom and testing accommodations are varied, but may include: adapted testing arrangements, extended time on tests, testing in a distraction-free environment, assistance with alternative formats of textbooks, and advocacy with the MSU Housing Department for help with living arrangements.
Disability-related housing accommodations are to be requested through ACCESS and the Office of Disability Support Services. Students with disabilities requesting housing accommodations must begin the process by submitting the request to ACCESS. Students must provide documentation from an appropriate professional indicating diagnosis and the need for housing accommodations. It is the responsibility of the student, parent, or guardian to notify ACCESS each semester that accommodations are needed.