Student support is an important consideration for any new college student. Read this article to learn about student support relating to health, finances, course selection, multicultural student support, and navigating the campus and the university's website.
When students go away to a college or university, it’s not always immediately apparent - either to students or their parents - how they can get assistance or support for various issues. Here’s a rundown of typical student services that they can turn to for a variety of issues.
The Bottom Line
For most students, the bottom line is this: yes, there are agencies, offices, and personnel ready to help you at school. But for most students, the best student support across the board is from the folks at home.
With laws now mandating that students who are 18 and over be the prime communicator about financial matters, being a first-year student may now include challenges that are way beyond the classroom and that parents of these students may not have faced themselves. Be prepared for a range of questions, and don’t be afraid to offer help or even step in if you see your child becoming overwhelmed.
While a resident head and resident assistant are not exactly in loco parentis, they are still good go-to people for a wide range of issues that may crop up for a college student. Even just knowing the right name to call the service they need can be a boon to a student seeking support, and these folks, with their experience of the campus, can be helpful and supportive guides.
Student Health Issues
Concern about how students will take care of health issues, especially if they’re far from home, can be worrying. Usually students have access to a variety of types of student support for health matters.
- Resident Head/Resident Assistant The people whom the housing office has given the task of helping supervise dormitory life are good resources both for close-to-home type needs - like a heating pad or help taking out a splinter - as well as advice on how to navigate the school’s health care system.
- Student Health A facility dedicated to nothing but taking care of students. Students will likely be able to get many of their medical needs - including flu shots - dealt with here. Student health staff may also be able to offer student support for finding specialists for needs like dental and vision care and any other special attention a student needs. This includes mental health issues.
- Student Insurance office If your student’s insurance is through the college or university, then there will likely be an office on campus to help students sort through finding specialists and other matters that can’t be handled by student health.
A student’s billing and payments are located by an office sometimes called the Bursar. A student who is receiving support other than from his or her family will be dealing with an office with a title like “Office of College Aid” or something similar. And a third party in these dealings may be a home-state students assistance agency. In cases in which student support is needed to clear up financial matters, it may well be a combination of these three that needs to be contacted. Parents may be able to assist students in these conversations, as they can become a bit complicated.
This is, of course, one of the standard areas in which colleges and universities supply student support. Every institution of higher education has an office with academic counseling, although these offices go by different names, such as academic advisers. After students choose a major, they may additionally have an advisor from their chosen discipline. The word “advising” may be a useful one for students to have, because even if it isn’t the exact title at their school, it will differentiate what they’re looking for from mental health counselors.
Most campuses, if not all, these days, have a Multicultural Affairs Office to offer student support for members of racial and ethnic minorities. Students may wish to stop in here to see what’s going on
Getting around in the new surroundings is another area in which student support is often welcome. Check out the university’s website - especially areas specially designated for students - to find local maps, information about public transportation, location of parking lots on campus, etc.
And speaking of the University Website, in this day and age, a great deal of student support is to be found neatly laid out right there. In fact, students may arrive at campus already familiar with the site, which may have been the place at which they uploaded their application, received their admissions notification, and signed up for orientation. A few minutes looking through the Student Services page, the student’s class page, and using the search function can often help track down the support the student is seeking.