Recognizing Troubled Students

College students today often experience considerable personal and school-related stress. In addition to the pressure to achieve and work out a path to professional success, students must cope with a variety of personal stressors and pressures. Many of these personal stresses are age-related developmental factors, some are situational and some are psychological.

In an attempt to juggle the demands of college and their personal lives, student sometimes act out aggressively or self-destructively. Strong feelings of anger, depression and anxiety are common. Sometimes just one added situation or stressor can precipitate a crisis.

Studies indicate that in a group of 100 college students with equal numbers of men and women at least:

  • 25 students will have divorced parents
  • 15 students will have a substance-abusing parent
  • 10 students will themselves have a substance abuse problem
  • 15 female students will be victims of rape or sexual abuse
  • 6 female students will have an eating disorder
  • 4 male students will be victims of sexual abuse
  • 3 female students will become pregnant during their college years

Other common stressors that students experience include:

  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Death of a loved one
  • Break-up of an intimate relationship
  • Serious illness
  • Perceived rejection by family
  • Academic pressure or failure
  • Identity confusion
  • Cultural oppression/discrimination
  • Low motivation or inability to establish goals
  • Outside work pressures
  • Parenting responsibility

Faculty and Staff as Helping Resources for Students

Students experiencing this level of distress may turn to you for help, due to your position, status and visibility on campus. Consequently, you may find yourself confronted by a disturbed or disturbing student who needs assistance. Your response in these situations could impact significantly on the student’s ability to deal constructively with his/her problems.

There are specific guidelines you can use to help troubled students get the assistance they need. The guidelines are categorized into the following sections: 1) recognition; 2) intervention; and 3) referral.

  • Recognizing Troubled Students

  • What You Can Do (Intervention)

  • Referring to CAPS

  • What Happens When a Student Visits CAPS

  • How to Follow Up After a Referral