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Student life is full of challenges, sometimes triggering a major case of enough already. You’re probably aware that the campus offers a bunch of services and resources designed to help you be healthy, resilient, and successful. Do they work? In surveys by Student Health 101, you say yes: These services can make the difference between passing or failing, an A or a B, staying in or dropping out. Students often say they regret waiting until they were in a crisis, and wish they’d accessed these resources earlier. Some report that for the longest time they didn’t know certain types of support existed.

Free stuff for students

Campus resources are usually available free or at a low cost. Of course, college gym membership, counseling, and so on are not literally free; their cost is covered by your tuition. If you don’t use them, you’re not getting what you’re paying for. In a recent survey by Student Health 101, more than three out of four college students said this is even more reason to access these services. If you wait until after you’ve graduated to learn kickboxing or get professional help with your social anxiety, it will likely be costly.

How to know what you have

The availability of resources at any given school depends on various factors. To learn what’s typically available and how can it make your life easier, click on each resource.

Here’s how to make sure you’re not missing out:

  • Scour your college website
  • Talk with staff, faculty, RAs, mentors, and other students
  • Check out any building, event, or publication that suggests resources for students
  • Look for student jobs and other opportunities to work with campus resource centers
  • Review your orientation resources (e.g., Class of 2020 Facebook page)

Academic tutoring, office hours, and study support

“The tutoring center has helped me more than words can describe. I finally understand the work I’m doing, plus it’s free! I went from being an average student to being above average and helping other kids in my classes.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, University of New Mexico

“They helped me bring my essay writing up to over 80 percent grade-level, elevating my writing ability from high school to university quality in one session.”
—Fifth-year online undergraduate, Trent University, Ontario

Typical services

  • Supports students through ongoing or short-term struggles, and helps students become more competitive (e.g., aspiring grad students looking to improve their grades)
  • Office hours provide individualized time with instructors or peer tutors
  • Study centers can help with time management, overcoming procrastination, note taking, effective reading, exam prep, etc.
  • Many study centers provide group workshops in key skills and specialized tutoring for different subjects (or referrals to community-based tutors)
  • Writing centers help students build college-level writing skills (e.g., via brainstorming and editing services)
  • Drop-in hours can help you find quick answers to specific questions
  • Cost if paying privately: $15–$25/hour (student tutors), $50–$75/hour (professional tutors) (various sources)

How it made the difference

“Huge! I took a coding class and had no prior programming experience. I was in office hours all the time. Without being able to go to my instructor for help, I would not have done nearly as well in the class as I did.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Missouri University of Science and Technology

“Office hours enabled me to get additional time with my TAs and further understand the material.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Johns Hopkins University, Maryland

Academic advising

“It’s the difference between passing and not passing classes, going to summer school vs. not going.”
—Third-year undergraduate, California State University, Stanislaus

“Without my advisor, I would be so lost on which classes to take when. She provides me with opportunities outside of just choosing classes to better myself in my career.”
—Third-year undergraduate, Northern Michigan University

Typical services

  • Guidance around what classes to take when, in order to meet graduation requirements efficiently, helps students get through their program more quickly and save money by taking classes in the most appropriate sequence
  • Guidance around accessing opportunities relating to degree goals (e.g., internships and conferences)
  • Support with decisions around personal goals relating to career, interests, and/or advanced degrees
  • May provide support with time management and study skills
  • Cost if paying privately: $50–$100/hour (services for students with disabilities) (various sources)

How it made the difference

“Attending academic advising made an incredible difference in relieving the stress of picking courses and making important choices regarding my studies and undergraduate career.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Trent University, Ontario

“My academic advisor helps identify a balanced combination of courses so that my course load is not overwhelming.”
—Fourth-year online undergraduate, Florida International University

“It made a world of difference between me going to grad school or not going… between succeeding and failing at the process.”
—First-year graduate student, California State University, Stanislaus

Recreational and fitness resources

“I wish I had started taking advantage of the recreation center and gym earlier, especially while access is free. Exercise is so important to staying healthy and happy, but I didn’t realize how big of an impact it can have.”
—Third-year undergraduate, Texas Christian University

“Changed my lifestyle and health habits completely.”
—First-year graduate student, University of North Dakota

Typical services

  • Free access to gym, weight room, track, pool, etc.
  • Free access to a range of fitness classes and intramurals (varies by school)
  • Most schools allow one guest per student with a nominal fee
  • Personal training (may involve a fee)
  • Consultation with nutritionist or fitness director (varies by school; may involve a fee)
  • Cost if paying privately: gym membership averages $58/month (Cheatsheet); personal training $80–$125/hour (Angie’s List).

How it made the difference

“It made a huge difference! Taking time between classes to work out helped me recharge and let me be ready to learn.”
—Third-year undergraduate, University of Guelph, Ontario

“It’s great to have free access to fitness equipment. It made a huge difference in my fitness and stress level.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Ferris State University, Michigan

“Having a gym close by is game-changing!”
 —Third-year undergraduate, Queen’s University, Ontario

Library services

“Getting support from librarians and library staff has saved me hours of work on papers and projects.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, Michigan Technological University

“I rented textbooks from the library, which saved me a lot of money.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, University of Windsor, Ontario

Typical services

  • Books, articles, and journals, hard-copy or electronic, available to borrow
  • Research assistance (e.g., finding resources, navigating databases, requesting articles)
  • Extensive online resources, sometimes including instant chat guidance
  • IT stations including free software access
  • Private or group study spaces
  • Loans and sometimes rentals of textbooks, laptops, and other materials (varies)
  • Access to software, such as Microsoft Office
  • Specialized research resources for needs relating to disability services and other programs
  • Printing, photocopying, and scanning (may involve fees)
  • Cost if paying privately: no direct equivalent

How it made the difference

“The library made a huge difference. It was a place of quiet where I could put 100 percent of my focus into my work. The people within the library also helped to bring my papers to the next level.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Concordia University of Edmonton, Alberta

“The friendly support of our librarians in helping me find journal articles through the library’s online databases made a huge difference in my being able to complete my research well.”
—Second-year graduate student, Arkansas Tech University

Disability, injury, and illness accommodations and services

“It changed everything. I finally felt like I was on an even playing field with my peers and didn’t have to stress that my condition was setting me back any more.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Stanford University, California

“I got sick with mono and didn’t go for help, and my grades went down. I wish I would have said something sooner to get time to finish school work.”
—Third-year undergraduate, Michigan Technological University

Typical services

  • Works to create equitable support services for students with physical, psychiatric, or developmental disabilities and illness
  • Academic and living accommodations to help students with challenges related to disability, injury, and illness
  • Core services include learning plan development, exam accommodations, assistive technologies, resources in alternate formats (e.g., Braille), finding funding support, general advising, and personalized support staff
  • Transportation assistance for students with limited mobility
  • Cost if paying privately: no direct equivalent

How it made the difference

“Disability services made a massive difference. I probably wouldn’t have made it through university without their support.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador

“The Accessibility Resource Center: The accommodations they allow for me are amazing and have greatly helped me succeed in courses.”
—Third-year undergraduate, University of New Mexico

“I have ADHD and never wanted to be one of those students who gets extra time and help... So I’ve never gotten help that I probably need. I haven’t overcome it and it’s probably negatively affecting me.”
—Third-year undergraduate, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Counseling

“The counseling center helped me more than any paid therapist ever has. They helped me nearly overcome my phobia and deal with substance abuse and sexual assault.”
—Third-year undergraduate, University of Memphis, Tennessee

“It made a huge difference in helping me understand myself and relate easier to fellow students.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Berea College, Kentucky

Typical services

  • Free counseling/therapy services, confidential for those age 18+ (below that age, inquire about confidentiality law and policy)
  • Individual and group counseling, emergency psychological services, and wellness programming including workshops and groups
  • Support with issues including life transitions and adjusting to college
  • Support with anxiety, stress, depression, other mental health conditions, identity, anger management, body image and disordered eating, family issues, motivation, substance abuse or dependency, abuse, suicidal thoughts, and more
  • Emergency phone line and/or on-call staff for after-business hours and weekends (at some schools)
  • Cost if paying privately: $50–$250/hour (uninsured); insurance typically covers a portion of mental health care.

How it made the difference

“There is a good chance I wouldn’t be in university right now without it.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, University of Windsor, Ontario

“Instead of focusing on me and my problems, I took advantage of group therapy, which allowed me to be a part of other people’s struggles and hear their experiences, difficulties, failures, and losses (and have them experience mine as well). I was able to see, learn from, grow, and get back to living my life.”
—Third-year graduate student, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, New York

“It made a tremendous difference in teaching me valuable lessons on controlling anxiety.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, Michigan Technological University

“I went through an incredibly difficult family emergency while in a very demanding program. Counseling helped me understand and work through the emergency and also provided support when I struggled academically, allowing me to carry on.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Trent University, Ontario

Health services

“The health center saved me a lot of money, because I don’t have good insurance coverage.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, University of West Georgia

“Excellent system, easy to access, and the doctors are very friendly. I wish I didn’t have so many hesitations and went to them sooner.”
—Third-year undergraduate, Mount Royal University, Alberta

Typical services

  • Consultations and treatment for injury, illness, and health maintenance via campus health center
  • Preventive health services including vaccinations (flu shots, travel vaccines, and more)
  • Smoking cessation, alcohol moderation, recovery support, and other substance use services
  • Care with chronic allergies, illness (e.g., diabetes), and other conditions, including administering injections
  • Health care providers may include physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, psychologists, physician assistants, and specialists such as psychiatrists
  • Appointments are often free; tests and medications may involve fees
  • Many schools offer student health insurance and/or accept other health insurance
  • Urgent care centers: Cost will vary based on need and insurance
  • Cost if paying privately: uninsured new patient primary care visit averages $160 (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)

How it made the difference

“I love the free things they give out.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, California State University, Channel Islands

“It was so great to have assistance on campus and at such great prices for college students! I appreciate it so much!”
—Second-year undergraduate, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire

“The health center provided me with that-day doctor appointments, which minimized the amount of time I spent out of class sick.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, University of Wyoming

Career services

“Make use of small amounts of time you get in the day to access career support. This can make an enormous difference in how prepared you are.”
—Third-year undergraduate, University of Miami, Florida

“It helped me a lot in preparing for job interviews and fixing up my résumé, and the facility is really great about [facilitating] different opportunities and connections.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island

Typical services

  • Internship, summer job, and co-op opportunities, application information, and guidance on making the most of these positions
  • Résumé and cover letter review and workshops
  • Assessment of career interests and options
  • Networking assistance, including connections with alumni
  • Assistance with pursuing further education (e.g., graduate school)
  • Recruitment, job postings, and career fair
  • Exploring career options and strategy
  • Mock interviews
  • Cost of career coaching if paying privately: $100–$500/two-hour session (Undercover Recruiter)

How it made the difference

“Using this service allowed me to apply to summer jobs, confident that my documents were professional and appealing to potential employers.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, University of New Brunswick

“The Career Advancement Center allowed me to practice my interviewing skills with mock interviews and how to appropriately answer questions.”
—First-year graduate student, Midwestern University, Illinois

Residence life and mentoring

Typical services

  • Support through the range of challenges relating to transitions and college life
  • Formal mentoring programs can provide regular, structured check-ins (varies by school and student population)
  • Informal mentoring by mutual agreement can also be effective
  • Connections to peers and alumni
  • Cost of life coaching if paying privately: $100–$300/hour (LifeCoach.com)

How it made the difference

“It’s always nice to clear your head and speak to an actual person, and then be able to get back to schoolwork.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island

“RAs are incredibly important and useful. They’re the first person I go to with basically any question, and because they are older students, they can answer (honestly, too) any question that you can come up with.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, University of North Dakota

“I worked at the Solution Center, which answers the campus main line and also is the IT Help Desk. Being a freshman, I learned a lot about deadlines, how things work, where to find information. I just learned about all my resources and what to do when I have issues with something. I basically learned everything about campus, and it helped so much.”
—Second-year undergraduate at California State University, Channel Islands

“Residence Life has been the most useful resource for advice on all sorts of matters. They became my most trusted mentors on campus.”
—Second-year graduate student, Emory University, Georgia

“My scholarship advisor has been a valuable resource, not just academically, but emotionally. He has helped talk me through all of the ups and downs and put things into perspective.”
—Third-year undergraduate, California State University, Stanislaus

Financial support

Typical services

  • Information on taxes, grants, scholarships, job openings, and more
  • Financial aid packages
  • Student loan information, counseling, and advocacy
  • Personal finance consultations for budgeting strategies
  • Drop-in sessions during office hours for information, advocacy, and financial counseling
  • Cost of financial planning if paying privately: $125–$350/hour (Bankrate.com)

How it made the difference

“The financial aid advisors are a great help; you realize the breakdown of a survival budget throughout school, until you get to where you want to be in life.”
—Second-year student, Elgin Community College, Illinois

“The financial aid office made a big difference in the amount of assistance I receive.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Cambrian College, Ontario

“Finance services can help you get a jump on financial opportunities on and around campus, such as work-study, job openings, and budgeting.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate student, Clemson University, South Carolina

“Student employment [opportunities at my school were] the top reason why I decided against transferring.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Endicott College, Massachusetts

Support for minority communities

Typical services

  • Special benefits/scholarships for veterans (via Veteran Affairs Office or equivalent)
  • International student services assist with cultural transitions and other issues
  • Native American student services may include advising, scholarships, housing, etc.
  • Chaplaincy and other religious and spiritual services offer community and worship, often in a multi-faith environment
  • Gender equity services and women’s centers provide community and support with issues relating to discrimination
  • Cost if paying privately: no direct equivalent

How it made the difference

“The indigenous student support services made it possible for me to complete my first undergrad and start my second one. I wish I’d accessed the Native Student Union earlier.”
—Second-year student, University of Victoria, British Columbia

“The gender equity center changed my perspective, provided support and education, and allowed me to connect with the campus community.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Boise State University, Idaho

“The international student office provides me with the information that I need for work and study permits.”
—Recent graduate, Fleming College, Ontario

Title IX (anti-discrimination) services

Typical services

  • Promotes a nondiscriminatory educational, living, and working environment
  • Confidential resources and support relating to actions that violate nondiscrimination laws and policies, including sexual assault, coercion, and harassment, and exclusion of transgender students from facilities and opportunities
  • Coordinates, provides, and/or refers to services including victim advocacy, housing assistance, academic support, counseling, disability services, health and mental health services, and legal assistance
  • Investigates cases of alleged misconduct and applies appropriate remedies
  • Provides advocacy and training related to discrimination and violence
  • Cost if paying privately: no direct equivalent.

How it made the difference

“One girl was harassing and bullying me. The police took the situation very seriously and took me to meet with the dean. I received a no-contact order with that student and have yet to hear from her since.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Indiana University Southeast

“It helped me with my sexual assault case and made me feel like my situation mattered.”
—Fourth-year online undergraduate, University of North Dakota

“I was 20 and a student during winter term [when I was sexually assaulted]. It made me feel powerless. I had tried to be his friend. I reported to my area coordinator and then later the public safety staff. I had to give a statement at the student board. Took three months to come up with a verdict.”
—Undergraduate, Oregon

Your wish list: What you'd like to see on campus

These responses came from students at numerous colleges and universities across the US and Canada. Some of these resources may be available at your school.

  • Free coffee
  • Public sleep/nap areas
  • Dance rooms or public art spaces
  • Prayer room
  • Sign language
  • Drivers Ed
  • Easier access to rental vehicles
  • Support with budgeting, filing taxes, and legal issues
  • Summer rec. center access
  • Vegetarian/vegan dining stations
  • Groups supporting eating healthy on residence meal plan
  • Clubs and scholarships for first-generation students
  • Better support for transfer students
  • Resources for young parents
  • Resources for disabled students to gain life skills

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Article sources

Danielle Berringer, administrative support, Accommodated Learning Centre, University of Lethbridge, Alberta.

Burress, H. (2015, January 19). What factors affect the cost of a personal trainer? Angie’sList.com. Retrieved from https://www.angieslist.com/articles/what-factors-affect-cost-personal-trainer.htm

Colorado Mesa University. (2015). Mentoring. Retrieved from http://www.coloradomesa.edu/student-services/diversity-and-health/mentoring.html

Costa, C. D. (2016, January 1). Why a gym membership is usually a bad investment. Money & Career CheatSheet. Retrieved from http://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/why-a-gym-membership-is-usually-a-bad-investment.html/?a=viewall

Georgia State University. (n.d.). Nutrition consultations. http://recreation.gsu.edu/fitness/fitness-center/nutrition-consultations/

Hobart and William Smith Colleges. (2011). Treatment providers in the community. Retrieved from http://www.hws.edu/studentlife/pdf/psychotherapists_community.pdf

Hobart and William Smith Colleges. (2016). Sexual misconduct resources and support. Retrieved from http://www.hws.edu/studentlife/titleIX_office.aspx

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2015, May 5). Primary care visits available to most uninsured but at high price. Retrieved from http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2015/primary-care-visits-available-to-most-uninsured-but-at-a-high-price.html

Lifecoach.com. (2016). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved from http://www.lifecoach.com/coaching-faqs

NCSU Libraries. (n.d.). Technology lending. Retrieved from https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/techlending

MacDonald, J. (2015, December 31). Financial planners: Not just for millionaires anymore. Bankrate.com. Retrieved from http://www.bankrate.com/finance/savings/financial-planners-not-just-for-millionaires-anymore-1.aspx

Student Health 101 survey, July 2016.

Sundberg, J. (n.d.). Is a career coach worth the money? UndercoverRecruiter.com. Retrieved from http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/career-coach-worth-money/

University of Lethbridge. (2016). Resources. Retrieved from http://www.uleth.ca/counselling/content/u-l-resources

The University of Maine. (n.d.). Financial resources for students. Retrieved from http://umaine.edu/sss/finances/

University of Notre Dame. (2016). Want to mentor? Retrieved from http://careercenter.nd.edu/alumni-mentor/want-to-mentor/

University of Washington. (2014). Undergraduate advising. Retrieved from https://www.washington.edu/uaa/advising/finding-help/study-centers-and-tutoring/

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Taylor Rugg is an undergraduate at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York. She’s double majoring in writing & rhetoric and war, warfare & the soldier experience. She has studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and is hoping to pursue a doctorate degree in rhetoric or linguistics. Taylor is a member of the SH101 Student Advisory Board 2016–17.


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Karl Johnston studied Human Resources and Labour Management at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta. He is the former Canadian Features Editor of Let’s Be Wild magazine and It’s Just Light magazine, and a columnist at The Northern Journal. Karl is a member of the SH101 Student Advisory Board 2016–17.