What Is Student Services and How Does It Benefit Students?

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by Sharon Wilfong

Published on August 18, 2021

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What Is Student Services and How Does It Benefit Students?

Student services programs lend support to help learners develop and find success.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the goal of student services programs is to increase the completion rate at the postsecondary level — especially among first-generation students, low-income students, and students with disabilities. Student services offices should also promote inclusion and diversity by assisting students from underrepresented groups, veterans, and learners from disadvantaged populations.

There are multiple names for student services, including student support services and student affairs. Different services are offered that can benefit many students.

Specific services may help students overcome unique barriers, such as learning and personal challenges. These offices also provide general counseling help, tutors, mentors, and career planning. Learners may find accessibility options and activities for students with limited English proficiency as well.

What Does the Office of Student Affairs Do?

Student services administrators strive to help learners succeed by supporting their personal growth, educational achievement, and career planning.

Lends Academic Support

Student affairs in higher education seeks to cultivate academic development through activities that can help build foundational skills. These activities may include workshops on study habits and time management, which can help learners stay organized in college.

Additionally, a college's writing center employs experienced mentors who can help students improve their academic writing skills. Tutoring programs and other educational services support students' growth throughout college.

The student affairs office often partners with faculty advisors to help learners develop study skills, find tutors, and arrange accommodations for disabilities. The office may also help students find personal connections through outlets such as study groups.

Offers Career Coaching

A career coach can help students define actionable career goals that align with their personalities and abilities.

For example, coaches can administer aptitude and personality tests that may help students make informed career choices. They also can help build connections between a student's interests and potential career paths. Students can learn how to write a resume and use job search boards and networking platforms.

Career coaches often use confidence-building exercises that prepare students to apply for internships or even land their first job after graduation.

Promotes Campus Involvement

The student affairs office typically works with administrators, students, and community members to inform learners of the many ways they can get involved on campus. Activities hosted by student affairs can build connections and foster friendships between students and mentors. These include clubs, study groups, volunteer organizations, and cultural events.

A good way to stay engaged is to make friends in college who have similar goals and aspirations. Students can join various academic, cultural, political, and religious clubs and organizations. Participating in campus activities helps students meet new people and step out of their comfort zones.

Getting involved on campus, establishing friendships, and networking can help students build confidence, collaborate, and develop important skills. Additionally, working on campus can increase a student's marketability in their career field, leading to future opportunities.

Provides Accommodation Services

Laws at all levels of government protect students with disabilities from discrimination by requiring equal levels of access to academic services, classrooms, and resources.

Accommodation services often focus on removing barriers that prevent students with disabilities from fully participating. For example, students with hearing impairments may have access to assistive listening devices or sign language interpreters.

Accommodations can also mean modifications to procedures. Students with learning disabilities, for instance, may have the option to take a written exam orally.

Additionally, in many cases students can apply for course substitutions and waivers. Though there are typically eligibility requirements, accommodation services are generally free of charge. To access college disability services, students can start by contacting the student affairs office at their school.

Offers Counseling Services

College can bring on additional stress, introduce social pressures, wreak havoc on time management, and cause sleepless nights. Students away from home for the first time may feel disconnected from their usual support systems. School-related stress can exacerbate existing or undiagnosed conditions.

To help learners find success on campus, student counseling services may offer peer counselors, therapists, and mental health support services. For students in distress, these counseling services can form the foundation of an important support network.

A recent study by The Jed Foundation looked at college and graduate students as they prepared to start school amid uncertainties about COVID-19 in fall 2020. The online survey revealed that 82% of students were dealing with anxiety, and 68% felt socially isolated and alone. School counseling services can help teach students how to cope with feelings of anxiety and isolation, as well as with any other challenges they may be facing.

Counselors work with students to help improve their mental and physical health in college. They can also refer students to outside treatment if they suspect psychiatric disabilities that need further care.

Frequently Asked Questions About Student Services

What is the difference between student affairs and student services?

These names are often interchangeable. Typically, though, student affairs offices emphasize student learning and development by providing tutors, mentors, and career services. Student services offices, by contrast, may focus more on providing support to remove personal, physical, and financial barriers to help learners reach their academic goals.

What services can college students get for free?

College students can usually access counseling and mental health services at no charge. Students also can receive academic and career services from tutors, advisors, mentors, and workshops.

What is the SSS program?

The Student Support Services (SSS) program helps motivate students to complete their postsecondary education by offering various support opportunities, including resources for improving reading, writing, and math skills. It also offers programs to help learners develop study and time-management skills, mental health programs and accommodations, and career services.

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