How Campus Services Can Help You Navigate the College Experience

Bashar Hanna
4 min readFeb 20, 2024

Life on a university campus is a whole different experience from life in high school. While you may live on campus, you’ll definitely spend much of your time there. Luckily, you’ll have the opportunity to avail yourself of the many services your university provides beyond academics.

Getting a good post-secondary education requires planning, persistence, and dealing with the unexpected. To boost your chances of success, it’s important to understand what resources are available to you, and to take advantage of them as much as possible. Never be afraid to ask for help. Remember, your tuition helps pay for these services, and they are designed to support you. Most institutions of higher learning have a very impressive range of services focused on students’ needs — below are some of the most common.

  1. Residential dorms

Many universities will provide the choice to live on campus in an apartment, dorm, or other residential setting, especially for first-year students. This can be a good option for several reasons. First-time arrivals may find it easier to become familiar with the rhythm of university life and to make friends with other students while living on site. Student residences often come with a meal plan that you can purchase, making budgeting easier.

2. Health center

Convenient medical care can be found in campus health centers where healthcare professionals offer treatment, order medical tests, and administer basic exams and immunizations. Appointments may be offered over Zoom or videoconference, or in person.

3. Financial aid office

Here is an office that you should expect to see on campus. Paying for college is expensive, so it’s not uncommon for most students to look for different funding sources. Staff working in financial aid are able to explain various ways to cover your education costs, from finding a part-time job through the federal government’s work-study program to applying for loans and grants. You may also be able to learn about scholarships and even receive counseling on money management and budgeting.

4. Mental health counseling

Adjusting to university life can be stressful and challenging. Not only might you be away from home for the first time, but you’re dealing with a totally new environment where your previous support systems feel far away. Attending counseling sessions with a mental health professional working at your university can give you the support you need. These professionals can provide a sympathetic ear and offer strategies for managing depression, anxiety, difficulties adjusting to college life, relationship problems, and other common mental health concerns.

5. Peer support

Coping with classes, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, relationships, and everything else can feel overwhelming at times. That’s a good reason to connect with someone else who has confronted the same issues. Many post-secondary institutions offer various forms of peer support — this can include services like tutoring, coaching, or simply someone to talk things over with from time to time, like a more senior student who understands what you’re going through.

6. Information technology support

You’re going to be using your computer a lot when you’re enrolled in classes. Whether you consider yourself tech savvy or not, everyone runs into technology issues from time to time. That’s why campuses have IT support staff who can help you resolve difficulties with your laptop, internet connection, online learning platforms, printers, and other IT issues.

7. Career counseling

There’s usually a wealth of different types of assistance at universities under the umbrella of career counselling. A campus career center is where you can take aptitude and personality tests that suggest specific occupations that may suit you, learn how to write a great resume, and get interview support and job-hunting tips. You’ll typically find internship opportunities, job boards, and the guidance of experienced counselors who can help you plan a path from your education to a real-world career.

8. Spiritual services

Whatever your faith or religion, you’re likely to find that it has some presence at your university or in the surrounding community. For example, many campuses have faith-based groups for students that meet to worship together, engage in community service, or study religious texts.

9. Fitness centers

Exercise can ward off stress and promote better sleep. Going to the student gym, signing up for an exercise class, or working with a personal trainer are all excellent ways to stay fit, blow off steam, and have fun. Lots of on-campus athletic centers also host intramural sports, which is a great way to meet people and make friends.

10. Accessibility support

Students with disabilities have legal rights to accommodations so that they can complete their education. Therefore, most post-secondary institutions will have staff responsible for coordinating such accommodations for each student who requests them. For example, you may be entitled to extra time on exams, Braille materials, accommodations in on-campus housing, or an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter in classes.

Finally

These are not the only services you may be able to receive on campus. College campuses are usually home to hundreds of groups — officially recognized and otherwise — for different communities, shared interests, and people in similar life circumstances. For instance, you’ll typically find organizations for veterans furthering their education, students who are parents, LGBTQ+ students, and other groups. Joining any of these groups is a great way to find community, make friends, gain support, and get involved, especially when you’re new to campus.

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Bashar Hanna

Dr. Bashar Hanna has spent nearly four years as the president and chief executive officer of Pennsylvania’s Bloomsburg University.