Students with anxiety, depression encouraged to consult campus mental health services
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over one tenth of college students have been diagnosed or treated for anxiety in the past year, greatly impeding their ability to succeed academically. With 64 percent of all college dropouts citing a mental health issue as their primary motivator, a host of universities, including Rutgers, offer extensive services to students dealing with stress or battling severe mental disorders.
Many students do not seek out help when they need it, said Joshua Roshal, a first year student in the School of Arts and Sciences. These students may not be aware of what resources are available for them or simply do not have the time.
Students tend to procrastinate, which would exacerbate their inability to seek help, he said. If a student has an upcoming exam, they would rather cram than get help.
“They (may also) not (be) confident in the ability of these resources to help them,” he said.
First year students who have trouble with University classes are not alone, said Lydia Prendergast, an assistant dean in the School of Engineering. Many students fail a class or perform more poorly than they expected when entering college.
These students can still have successful college careers, she said.
Many resources are available for students having academic issues or experiencing emotional distress to take advantage of, said Neeta Chandrashekhar, an assistant dean for transfer students in the School of Arts and Sciences. These resources include different academic deans, a student dean or the Counseling ADAP & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) office.
“(There are) a lot of resources where students can receive help or assistance from,” she said. “I think a good place to start would be an advising office or a dean of students office. A lot of people there are good people to connect them with other resources.”
Tutoring, study groups and various learning centers are available to help students academically, Prendergast said. If a student is having trouble with their major, they also have the option to research a specific major and its career options.
Chandrashekhar said because School of Arts and Sciences students do not have assigned academic advisors, students can meet with any advisor within their school.
Some School of Engineering students are assigned advisors they can speak with.
Students can see a dean during walk-in hours, available Monday through Thursday this semester, Prendergast said. Students can also schedule appointments before coming in.
“A student can walk in almost any day of the week and be helped immediately,” she said. “The deans and advisors also have emails, so if a request came in through email we can often start the process (before a student even comes in).”
All relevant information would be provided as soon as possible to aid a student, she said.
Students are also given the option to take more than the traditional four years to complete their degree, she said. This is different from a dual degree or BS/MS program, which are designed from the outset to take five years.
“If a student needs more time, if they take fewer classes first semester, or there are other classes they need to catch up on, they can take four, four and a half, five, or six years in order to complete the B.S. degree in engineering,” she said.
A student had the option to graduate during any of the three graduation slots every year occurring in October, January, and May, she said. Usually, they would graduate immediately after the term they finish their credit requirements.
While there are three graduation slots, there is only one graduation ceremony, she said. This ceremony takes place in May.
Deans in the Office of Academic Services would review a student’s file by request and adjust the graduation date accordingly.
A student who needs to take a semester off for any reason can also use that option, Chandrashekhar said. To do so, they would need to take a leave of absence from the University.
“When they are looking to come back, they would come back through our re-enrollment process,” she said.
The re-enrollment process differs from a traditional application at the University, she said. Students would have a more streamlined application to use when coming back to classes.
Any student can withdraw for a semester provided they are not on academic probation at the time they leave, Prendergast said. They can reapply to the University when they are ready to return.
Members of CAPS are trained to counsel students, Chandrashekhar said. Students who are looking for assistance with a mental disorder or just to talk to somebody, can avail themselves of resources there.
“Sometimes it’s really difficult to ask for help, but when you do, the resources here are abundant,” she said. “There are a lot of things here that can help people. We hope that students are willing to take the first step.”