What Is Student Services and How Does It Benefit Students?

Discover what your student services office has to offer, from study tips and tutoring assistance to help with finding a mentor or counselor.
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  • A school's student services office can offer academic support, such as tutoring.
  • Accommodations and counseling may help students deal with a variety of challenges.
  • Some programs promote campus involvement, fostering inclusion and community.

Many college campuses offer an array of support services and resources for students. Examples include student business services, student financial services, and student health services.

The student services department in particular focuses on student success and growth, ensuring you're best equipped to thrive in your learning environment. Other areas that students services may support include campus safety, alumni programs, on-campus housing, veteran services, and student media.

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We'll walk you through exactly what support and actions the student services office typically provides.

What Is Student Services?

Student services — also called student support services and student affairs — lends support to learners to help them develop and achieve success.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the goal of student services programs is to raise the college completion rate, 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.

Some services aim to help students overcome unique barriers, such as learning and personal challenges. These offices also provide general counseling, tutoring, mentorship, and career planning assistance. You might also find here accessibility options and activities for students with limited English proficiency.

What Does the Office of Student Affairs Do?

Student services administrators strive to help students succeed by supporting their personal growth, academic achievement, and career planning. Here are three ways this office supports college learners.

Lends Academic Support

Student affairs in higher education seeks to cultivate academic development through activities that build foundational skills. These may include workshops on study habits and time management, which can help you 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 students develop study skills, find tutors, and arrange accommodations for disabilities. The office may also help you forge personal connections through outlets such as study groups.

Offers Career Coaching

A career coach can help you define actionable career goals that align with your personality and abilities.

Through student services, coaches can administer aptitude and personality tests to help students make informed career choices.

They can also help build connections between a student's interests and potential career paths. You can learn how to write a resume, how to use job search boards, and how to take advantage of 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 as you. Students can join various academic, cultural, political, and religious clubs and organizations. Participating in campus activities helps you meet people and get outside of your comfort zone.

Additionally, working on campus can increase your marketability in your chosen career field, leading to future opportunities.

Does Student Services Provide Accommodation Services?

Current U.S. law protects 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.

In many cases, you 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, contact your school's student affairs office.

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Does Student Services Offer Counseling?

College can cause immense stress, introduce social pressures, wreak havoc on time management, and cause many sleepless nights. Students away from home for the first time may feel disconnected from their usual support systems.

School-related stress can even exacerbate existing and undiagnosed conditions.

To help students succeed, 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 a critical support network.

A study by The Jed Foundation looked at undergraduate and graduate students as they prepared to start school during the COVID-19 pandemic in fall 2020. The survey revealed that 82% of students were dealing with anxiety, and 68% felt socially isolated and alone.

School counseling services can teach students how to cope with anxiety and feelings of isolation, as well as with any other challenges they may be facing.

Counselors work with students to improve their mental and physical health. They can also refer students to outside treatment if they suspect a condition that requires more extensive care.

Additional Campus Resources to Take Advantage Of

The student services office isn't the only resource you should use in college. Here are some other campus and student services most colleges offer:

  • Financial Services: Your financial aid office can connect you with scholarships, advise you on student tax credits, and even offer financial literacy classes.
  • Alumni Network: You can access your alumni network as an active student to start cultivating a mentor-mentee relationship and begin your career journey.
  • Student Health Center: Visit your campus health center when you're feeling sick, when you need a routine check-up, to collect your prescriptions, and more.
  • Recreation Center: The campus rec center often offers gym classes, intramural sports, personal training, and nutrition courses.

Frequently Asked Questions About Student Services

What is the difference between student affairs and student services?

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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?

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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?

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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.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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