In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, universities are constantly seeking new ways to provide a well-rounded experience for their students.
While academics remain at the core of any university's mission, this generation of students faces a unique set of challenges that require more in-depth support from their institutions.
If universities want to see higher graduation rates for their student body, they will need to focus on providing non-academic services as well as academic ones. Doing so not only ensures that students receive comprehensive support during their time on campus but also determines their overall success and well-being.
It's no secret that this generation's mental health is severely struggling, with steadily increasing rates of anxiety and depression. Research has shown that students with poor mental health are far more likely to have a low GPA, fail to finish their degree on time, and even have a lower retention rate.1
Today's students demand more than just classroom education, but how can colleges begin? To help promote student success, universities need to adopt a holistic approach that addresses the emotional, social, financial, and academic well-being of their students.
Did you know that the majority of college students now classify as nontraditional learners?2
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, most students no longer fit the definition of “traditional learners,” whether they are over 24, long-distance, part-time, or other.
This shift in demographics means that colleges need to offer more flexible learning options to accommodate their students.
For example, colleges can implement online courses or hybrid learning models that allow students to balance work, family, and other commitments while pursuing their degree.
By providing alternative learning options, universities can support nontraditional learners who may otherwise struggle to attend traditional classes on campus. But universities also need to recognize and accommodate the diverse backgrounds of their students.
Whether providing resources for first-generation college students, international students, or individuals from low-income households, colleges should be prepared to help all of their students succeed, regardless of background.
Addressing Mental Health Needs
College campuses have witnessed a concerning increase in mental health issues among students over the past decade.
A study released earlier this year found that 44% of college students are grappling with depression, with anxiety right behind at 37%.3
It is essential that universities offer accessible counseling centers staffed with qualified professionals, support groups, and workshops focused on stress-management techniques.
By doing so, universities can create an environment that fosters emotional well-being and reduces the stigma associated with seeking help.
To help combat this stigma, colleges can also promote awareness campaigns centered around mental health. This could include workshops on stress reduction techniques, mindfulness sessions, peer mentoring programs, and regular communication about available resources.
On top of their academics, today's students need more help to succeed in the professional world and to make connections with potential employers and mentors. This is why career readiness programs need to be a high priority for universities.
The National Survey of College Internships reported that only about a fifth of students have participated in internships following the pandemic.4 That number doesn't represent student interest, however.
The survey also found that almost two-thirds of non-interns wanted to participate. Not knowing where to find internships, having too heavy of a course load, and insufficient pay were their primary obstacles – all of which could have been avoided with proper guidance and resources.
At the heart of this initiative should be elements like internships, job search techniques, and networking skills. With such resources available on campus, students feel more equipped and confident to secure post-graduate jobs.
Lastly, many students leave college burdened with substantial debt and little knowledge of how to manage their finances.
Research has shown that financial literacy has declined over the last decade, leaving college students more vulnerable to taking out too much debt, using predatory lenders, or otherwise living beyond their means.5
Every student should understand basic concepts such as budgeting, credit scores, taxes, 401Ks, and responsible borrowing practices before they graduate.
Providing workshops or orientations that focus on money management can help students develop an understanding of the risks associated with taking out loans or using credit cards freely.
By offering educational curricula and resources, universities reach out one step further to ensure their graduates are financially sound when they move into the real world.
To give students access to comprehensive financial literacy education, universities should consider partnering with iGrad.
This innovative financial literacy platform offers a wide range of resources, tools, and online courses specifically designed to help students navigate the complexities of personal finance.
The iGrad platform provides interactive modules on budgeting, student loans, credit management, investing, and more. It also offers personalized financial coaching to support students in achieving their financial goals.
Request a demo today, and discover how your university can financially empower students.
Success Goes Beyond Academics
In a rapidly changing world where academic knowledge alone is not sufficient for success, universities must recognize the importance of enhancing and promoting non-academic services.
By taking these steps towards enhancing non-academic services on campus, universities will equip students with the skills necessary for personal growth beyond academia while fostering an inclusive environment that prepares them for a diverse society.
Academic institutions must adapt to meet today's college students' evolving needs so they may thrive both inside and outside the classroom.
1 - https://www.acenet.edu/Documents/Investing-in-Student-Mental-Health.pdf
2 - https://nces.ed.gov/pubs/web/97578e.asp
3 - https://www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/new-from-nea/mental-health-crisis-college-campuses
4 - https://ccwt.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/CCWT_NSCI-2021-Report.pdf
5 - https://connect.springerpub.com/content/sgrjfcp/33/2/205