College is an exciting new adventure for students, but it's also a challenging time for many. Not only are students expected to keep up with more demanding coursework, but they're also learning how to be independent adults and make new friends at the same time. All college students struggle from time to time, but some have more obstacles than others.
COVID-19 has been especially hard for some students. Dormitories closed, most classes moved online, and students had to navigate new policies under the stress of a global pandemic. The learning environment has only gotten more challenging, and some students are having trouble meeting expectations.
If you have friends who are having trouble with keeping up with school work, their mental health, or keeping up with expenses, you have more to offer than just your sympathy. College students who want to help their peers can do so in a number of different ways. Here's how.
Get Involved with University Education Policy Groups
Education policy will become a hot-button issue in the wake of COVID-19. Not happy with how universities are supporting students during the pandemic? Raise your voice and get involved with university education policy groups.
You don't have to be in a related major to get involved. There are lots of educational leadership organizations pushing for change that can use the help of smart young people from all different backgrounds. We need more young people to step up, lead, and demand changes to higher education policies so they benefit students who are struggling.
Does Your University Have a Student Focused Social Media Channel?
When it comes to social media presence, lots of universities are missing out on an opportunity to help students. Many students willingly engage with online content and might be able to learn more about the different services and resources offered by the university through social media.
If your university doesn't have a student-focused social media channel, ask why! It's a great way to distribute information and provide assistance to students who might not know where to go or who to ask for help. A student social media account could answer frequently asked questions and feature student services that could help those who might be struggling in college.
Advocate for College Student Mental Health
One of the biggest problems for college students is mental health management. College is stressful, especially in some majors that require lots of homework. Many students struggle with anxiety, overwhelm, depression, and other mental health concerns.
If you want to help students who may be struggling, then directing your energy toward advocating for student mental health is a good step. While most universities offer counseling and other mental health services, they may not offer enough support for students who are struggling.
We also need to see more support for students before they get to the point of crisis. Students who are struggling but aren't experiencing panic attacks or falling behind in schoolwork might think they can handle things on their own when they actually need support.
Advocating for proactive mental health and wellness support could have a huge positive impact on your peers. Offering information about the effects of stress and anxiety, along with management techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, and physical exercise, could help all students on campus.
Promote University Student Resources
While many students struggled before COVID-19, many more are experiencing mental health issues, uncertainty, and more. As a college student yourself, you can probably empathize with these concerns better than anyone else. Use that empathy to guide your peers toward existing student resources and support systems, and remember that sometimes, the best support is your willingness to listen and validate another student's feelings.
If your peers are struggling, you can help by advocating and by being available to your friends who are experiencing stress, anxiety, and overwhelm. COVID-19 and online learning has made many students feel isolated and concerned about the future. Staying connected recommending healthy lifestyle habits, and just offering a friendly ear are all ways you can help on an individual level.
Remember, school resources can help, but sometimes, support is most powerful when it comes from peers. You might feel helpless, but your care and concern might be more powerful than you ever imagined.