Stressed out in college

Rebecca Haars

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

Whether it is not knowing where to turn in a form, feeling overwhelmed with classes, financial problems, or anything in between ISU has a place to go. The first problem most students face is not knowing where to go to get help. “Start with us, that’s what we’re here for and to kind of help you come up with a system,” said Michael Davis, the Assistant Director of Student Assistance and Outreach Services.

Davis, along with the other Student Assistance and Outreach staff, are located in the Student Services Building on campus. In this building students can find multiple types of stress relievers that include the Dean of Students, Student Assistance, Career Assistance, and Student Counseling Services.

Starting at Student Assistance can help a student 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,” said Davis. At Student Assistance they have many connections with the other facilities on campus like 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.

Other services they might lead students to may happen to be in the same building as the Student Assistance offices. Student counseling services is also located in the Student Services building, but is found on the third floor. 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 the 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 would like further counseling or know from the beginning they would like counseling, so they skip the Let’s talk service, they can head straight to the counseling services on third floor. There are walk-in times from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for students who have one to two hours that 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 his or her needs. This will be from the array of options they provide.

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…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,” said Carrera.

One on one counseling is sometimes the best fit for some students situations. This individual counseling is normally for 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 roughly six to eight people in them. They meet for about 90 minutes per week.

There are many services offered outside of the Student Services Building. Some of these services include 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 Advisors are always there to help. Whether a student is questioning his or her major, having troubles scheduling classes, trying to decide whether or not to drop a class, or any other academic reality issue the Academic Advisor is there for any 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. For example, if you sleep through a test email and call the professor immediately, even if it’s eight at night. Otherwise, they become unsolvable,” said Dr. Carolyn Cutrona, Psychology Department Chair and Professor.

Not only does ISU have great facilities that are specialized to help students there are numerous ways to destress outside of these buildings. Taking time to relax and destress is very important. Whether that is 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 ISU holds endless opportunities to get away from stress.

For those who want to explore farther than 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. There is nothing that lifts a person’s mood like helping another person,” said Cutrona.

Whether it be a larger problem that needs long term guidance or a smaller issue that can be fixed by a walk through central campus students at ISU have countless paths to take when finding a solution to destress.