Coping with stressful situations in college

Rebecca Haars

The amount of topics students stress over is endless; however, so are the amount of services offered at Iowa State to help students deal with these stressors.

Whether it’s not knowing where to turn in a form, feeling overwhelmed with classes, financial problems or anything in between, Iowa State has a place to go. The first problem most students face is not knowing where to go to get help with whatever issue they are facing.

“Start with us, that’s what we’re here for and to kind of help you come up with a system,” said Michael Davis, assistant director of Student Assistance and Outreach Services.

Davis and the other Student Assistance and Outreach staff are located in the Student Services Building on campus. Students can find multiple types of services in the building that include the Dean of Students, Student Assistance, Career Assistance and Student Counseling Services.

Student Assistance can help students avoid running around campus trying to find which building they need to go to for their problem.

“Depending on what you’re looking for we take care a lot of the things in house,” Davis said.

Student Assistance has numerous connections with the other facilities on campus such as the Academic Success Center and financial aid.

An individual only knows so much about a certain topic. Student Assistance staff try their best to solve the problem right there; however, if this cannot be done, they make sure to lead the student in the right direction.

Another service they might lead students to is Student Counseling Services, which on the third floor of the Student Services building. Student Counseling Service covers a wide range of options to help students. Individual counseling, group counseling, couples counseling, Biofeedback services, Let’s Talk services and career services are all offered.

“So far this year, we have served about 2,000 students in our counseling services and about 12,000 students in our outreach and biofeedback services,” said Joyce Davidson, clinical director of Student Counseling Services.

Let’s Talk is a great place to start if a student is curious about counseling.

“Let’s Talk is a drop-in consultation service where you can come in for anywhere between five minutes and 60 minutes to talk to somebody about some of your concerns that you’re not sure about. In some ways it’s helpful to get a counselor’s perspective and get a taste of what counseling could be like,” said Stephanie Carrera, one of the Let’s Talk counselors.

If students feel they want further counseling or know from the beginning they want counseling, they can skip the Let’s Talk service and head straight to the Student Counseling Services.

Walk-in times are available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for students who have one to two hours they can put aside to fill out some papers and meet with a staff member. This meeting will go over the main points why the student is there. The student and the staff member will go over what best meets the student’s needs. 

Biofeedback is one option given to students.

“It’s a self guided program that teaches skills on how to bring about our bodies calming and relaxation response,” Carrera said. “… In our biofeedback center, we use two types of feedback. We use feedback from your heart, so how it changes over time, and then the skin conductance cause when we’re stressed we tend to sweat a little bit more. So using that feedback we have computers that show you how your body changes when you’re under a stressful situation.”

One-on-one counseling is sometimes the best fit for some students’ situations. This individual counseling is normally lasts 45 minutes, once a week. On average, students attend four to eight sessions.

Group counseling is another option for students. Students are placed in groups depending on their current situation. Most groups have about six to eight people in them. They meet for about 90 minutes each week.

Numerous services are also offered outside of the Student Services Building. One service is the Academic Success Center, which provides tutoring, supplemental instruction and academic coaching. If a student seeks improvement in academic skills, academic coaching helps build time management skills, test taking skills, study habits and note taking skills.

Financial stress is another problem many college students face. The Financial Aid office can be located in Beardshear hall. They provide help with loans, scholarships, problems with the U-Bill, filling out the FAFSA, general financial aid advice and other financial skills like budgeting money in college.

If a student has problems academically, academic advisers are always available to help. Whether a student is questioning his or her major, having troubles scheduling classes, trying to decide whether to drop a class or any other academic issue, an academic advisor is available for all of those stressors.

Professors are also wonderful people to go to when a student is dealing with academic problems.

“Don’t ever let a problem fester, hoping it’ll go away,” said Carolyn Cutrona, psychology department chair and professor. “For example, if you sleep through a test, email and call the professor immediately, even if it’s [8 p.m.] Otherwise, they become unsolvable.”

Iowa State not only has facilities that are specialized to help students but there also numerous ways to destress outside of these buildings. Taking time to relax and destress is important.

Whether it’s going to the library to read a book, working out at the gym, taking a meditation class or joining one of the countless clubs or organizations on campus, Iowa State provides endless opportunities to escape stress.

For those who want to explore off campus, there are plenty of parks to walk in, a yoga studio to take relaxing classes at and many other distressing activities.

“Volunteer opportunities. Go volunteer, go tutor a child, go work at the food bank handing out food to others,” Cutrona said. “There is nothing that lifts a person’s mood like helping another person.”

Whether it’s a larger problem that needs long-term guidance or a smaller issue that a walk through Central Campus can fix, ISU students have countless paths available to take when looking to destress.