Colleges boosting counseling convenience with dorm locations
- Colleges and universities are responding to an uptick in demand for mental health services from students by installing mental health counselors in spaces more conducive for students to meet, such as dormitories or near student meeting spots like coffee shops, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- The different approach can also help counselors deal with extremely long waiting lists for appointments at campus counseling centers, with some colleges and universities worried that the long wait times mean mental health professionals find out about challenges students are facing too late to offer more assistance.
- Montana State University took two empty dorm rooms last summer and converted them into counseling offices, while the University of Iowa added a second “embedded counselor at a residence hall and Virginia Tech has installed “satellite counseling offices,” including one located above a local Starbucks.
The model of counselors being placed where students can easily access them can be applied to other parts of higher ed institutions. In many areas of the country, there are fewer students attending college and more options to choose from, so college administrations need to be more proactive in all of their responsibilities, for marketing to maintenance and student support. For example, colleges could be driven to ensure a robust social media presence, as research indicates that many students, particularly first-generation, utilize social media during their college selection process. But most colleges don't even have a full-time staff member devoted to the school’s social media presence.
The "embedded counselor" model could extend to departments like financial aid or career services. While students may be aware these services exist, having someone visit the dormitory for in-person info sessions might make students more aware of what kind of assistance and insight is available. Additionally, reaching out to students during their college careers may make them more willing to consider remaining involved as an alumnus, particularly when it comes to fundraising.
- The Wall Street Journal College Counselors Go Where the Students Are—Dorms and Starbucks