This is the second of three posts about college students asking for help. In our first post we considered why students sometimes have difficulty asking for help. In this post we’ll look at who students might turn to for help and in Part 3 we’ll consider how students can most effectively seek the help they need.
Many high school students planning to go to college spend a lot of their time reviewing vocabulary words for their SAT College Board exam. They learn big words, important words, roots of words, and definitions. But if your college student is going to succeed in college, there may be one important word that he needs that never shows up on his entrance exam. It may be the most important word that he can use in college. What is that word? “Help.”
One of the first steps in encouraging your college student to ask for help when he needs it is helping him understand some of the factors that may be holding him back from seeking what he needs. Once he works his way past those barriers, however, it is important that he know what help is available to him. We’ve written earlier posts about helping your student find support on campus. It is important that your student know when he needs to ask for help and know where to find that help on campus.
Colleges provide many forms of support for students, but students need to seek that assistance. Unlike many high schools, colleges may not intrusively pursue your student to provide services and support. Many offices, advisors, tutoring centers or other support personnel depend on students to advocate for themselves and recognize and seek the help they need. As a college parent, you can encourage your student to find and utilize campus resources.
What kind of help should my student seek?
The kind of help that your student needs to look for depends on the problem, of course. But most colleges are prepared to help your student in many areas. Encourage your student to know the resources available on his campus and to know where they are located. She may never need them, but knowing what is available will be a good first step toward seeking help when it is needed.
- If your student is having difficulty with a roommate or with a living situation, asking for help from a Residence Assistant, Residence Director or Campus Life office is a good first start.
- The campus Counseling Center can help your student deal with stress, depression, anxiety or other emotional or psychological concerns.
- A campus Chaplain or Spiritual Life Coordinator might be helpful for religions questions, personal concerns, or general support.
- Your student’s Academic Advisor is the person assigned to help with academic issues and questions about major, progress toward graduation, and course selection.
- If your student is struggling with course material, a good first start might be to begin asking questions in class. If your student is having difficulty, others in class may be having similar difficulties. Being active and engaged and asking questions in class may prove surprisingly helpful.
- Most professors are happy to meet with students outside of class to help explain course material. Your student will need to ask to meet with the professor during office hours.
- Other students are often a great source of help. Finding a student in the same class who might be interested in reviewing material together or forming a study group will help everyone involved.
- If your student has a research project, she shouldn’t overlook the help she can receive from the college librarians. Research librarians are often an excellent source of help that is underutilized by all but the most motivated students.
- The campus tutoring or academic skills center can provide individual or group help. At most colleges and universities, this help is free.
- It is important for students to look for appropriate help on campus, but sometimes the help that they need may need to come from parents. If your student has an issue that cannot be dealt with at school, it is important that he feels that he can turn to you. Finding the line between encouraging your student to handle his problems on his own and knowing that you will always be available to help if needed, is not always an easy task.
It is important that your college student realize that she is not alone in working to achieve her goals. There is support available if she asks for it. It is possible that your student may need to try several people before she finds exactly the right source, but it is important that she persist. Once your student realizes that she needs help and understands the importance of asking for that help; and once she identifies the appropriate source of that help, she will need to make sure that she takes full advantage of that help. Our next post will look at some ways that your student can be sure to get all of the help that she needs.