Are You Turning This Perceived Weakness into a Strength for Students?

Let me guess: Often, you feel like you’re in an uphill battle. You’re trying to convince students to take advantage of resources you have to offer, but they don’t know what they don’t know, so they opt out.

I get it. I’ve been just as frustrated, but I’ve also learned that there’s something we can do about it.

Instead of blaming students, we can work to alter their perceptions and normalize the help-seeking process for them.

Do your students perceive the need for help as something for the weak, remedial, or those who can’t figure things out on their own?

Let’s work to change this perceived weakness into a strength!

Successful Students Seek Help

In Thriving in Transitions, one of the contributors, Jillian Kinzie, talks about the importance of normalizing the help-seeking process for students. She writes,

“Students in transition need to not know only the campus resources that are available and how to access them, but also that successful students seek out those resources(p. 15).

Let’s show our students that strong and successful people seek out help.

Normalizing the Help-Seeking Process

Alumni panels are great place to feature individuals who have sought help along the way to their success.

I’ll never forget the time one of our alumnae panelists shared how she started seeing a personal counselor during her first year out of college. Her parents recent divorce coupled with the many stressors of the transition brought her to a place need. Sasha’s* vulnerability on the panel led to a student approaching me later on, confessing that she too had been struggling with a similar situation of her own parent’s divorce, among other issues. She asked, “Where can I get some professional help?”

When we normalize the help-seeking process, struggling students feel empowered to get what they need to thrive.

Putting This into Practice

If you are not in these roles already, show your students that successful students…

  • …seek out professors during office hours. These visits can foster academic success and build relational capital, which is crucial for life after college.
  • …seek out career and calling services/centers on campus. Help students avoid the April panic (Oh no! I’m graduating, and I don’t have a job!), and preemptively invite students into a career preparation process.
  • …seek out multi-generational relationships at church or elsewhere. Life after college is filled with generational diversity. Let’s prepare our students by encouraging cross-generational connections now.

Can you invite some former students to share how the help-seeking process has shaped them into the thriving alumni they are today?

I’m taking my own advice, and I invited two former ENGL 15 students to share their experiences with my current writing students this week. These two students made the most of the resources available to them; I want to show my current students that strong students seek help!

What’s one way you plan to normalize the help-seeking process for your students? Leave a comment below!

P.S. Speaking of help-seeking, where are you stuck when it comes to equipping students to thrive after college? I’m here to help! I’d love to chat for 15-20 minutes. Click here, and we’ll find a time!

*Name changed to protect privacy.

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