As you embark on your college search, you’re probably thinking about the classes, programs, clubs, sports, and culture that various colleges offer. You might also be thinking about things like dorms, dining halls, and off-campus adventures. But what about a college’s student services?
Student services are an often-overlooked but vital part of any college experience. The name “student services” is so broad, and encompasses so many aspects of student life, that it can be hard to wrap one’s mind around what it means. Put simply, student services are the offices within a university or college that support the health, success, wellbeing, equity, and safety of the student body.
Student services you should look into when exploring colleges include:
Just as your academic advisor or counselor is essential to your success in high school, the advisors at your college in the Academic Advising Office will play a key role in your academic journey in college. Your advisor will be with you throughout your education, helping you choose which courses to take as you work toward your degree. Having a good relationship with your advisor can make a huge difference in your ultimate success.
Tutoring, Peer Tutoring, and Writing Centers
Part of what you’re paying for with your college tuition is teaching services outside of the classroom, such as tutoring in subjects ranging from math to computer science to chemistry. Many universities have tutoring centers where students can have free tutoring sessions with professional tutors or peers. Make sure to also check out a college’s writing center, where students work with writing consultants (some of whom may also be fellow students) to develop their skills writing essays and other school assignments.
Career Counseling Services
If you’re wondering how you’re going to translate your college major into career options, the career counseling center can be a great resource. There, you’ll be able to work with a career counselor on your résumé, practice interview skills, and learn about career opportunities in your college’s local community and beyond.
Office of Disability Services (ODS)
Universities are among the many institutions that must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); the Office of Disability Services ensures that a school meets ADA compliance while also working with students with disabilities to make sure their needs are met. If you have a documented disability, including a learning difference, the ODS is the place to go to arrange for accommodations. These accommodations could be in the classroom, housing, dining, or take the form of auxiliary services, such as a notetaker. A student can register directly with the ODS, and isn’t required to disclose their disability to their instructors.
Student Health/Wellness Center
Growing up, your parents take you to the doctor when you’re feeling sick. When you’re in college, the Student Health or Wellness center is where you go when you need medical attention (it’s important to note that student health centers often don’t have emergency rooms; if you’re on-campus and dealing with a medical emergency, you’ll need to call 911 and go to the nearest ER). Student health centers usually require an appointment. There, you can deal with anything from the flu to obtaining contraception to that food poisoning you may have gotten over the weekend.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS)
Mental health is essential for overall well being, and awareness about the importance of mental health support for college students is increasing. Your college’s Counseling and Psychological Services center offers counseling with dedicated professionals who can support you through whatever you’re dealing with. Many college CPS centers also offer groups and workshops for addressing common issues among college students like stress and procrastination.
Campus Safety and Security
This office is the home base of the campus security officers in charge of keeping students safe. It’s also the office to call if you’ve witnessed or been the victim of a crime on campus. Although this office has a direct line to local law enforcement, they often deal with more day-to-day issues, such as the Lost and Found and on-campus parking. Campus safety officers are the folks to call if you lock your keys inside your dorm room!
Knowing which student services are important to you – and knowing what services are offered by the college you’re interested in – can have a big impact on the quality of your college experience. As you’re touring campuses, keep a look out for these offices, and take the opportunity to talk to people in student services if you can.