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The Purpose of Educational Counseling in Higher Education - Part 2

Updated on May 6, 2015

The challenge for the counseling profession is consequently to control for the variables that shape and define the social realities in which students’ lives are embedded and which may have a positive or negative impact on students’ psychological state, thereby on their academic performance (Suzuki, 2002).

In a similar vein, statistics show that 5% of college students drop out because of psychiatric disorders. Had they not been experiencing psychiatric disorders, 4.29 million people in the United States would have graduated from college. Thus, the “significant predictors of failure” were categorized under four types of disorders; these are Anxiety, Mood Disorders, Substance Abuse, and Conduct Disorder (Kitzrow, 2013). Kitzrow mentions other variables influencing students’ retention. The author observes that students “who had left the university in poor academic standing reported difficulties with anxiety and sleep (a symptom often associated with depression and other mental health problems). Transition and adjustment difficulties, isolation, loneliness, and self-doubt; issues that can be addressed in a counseling setting, have also been identified as negative influences on retention” (p. 172).

According to Grassgreen (2014) anxiety surpassed depression and relationship issues among college students in 2011. Thus, 40 percent of students sought counseling help for anxiety, and 32 percent for the depression. In 2014, there was a rise of 46 percent of students who suffered from anxiety, and 39 percent sought treatment for depression.

The quantity and quality of challenges that counseling centers are faced with raises financial and human resources issues. For instance, a recent development of a series of actions for counseling at MIT resulted in budget increases ($838,000.00 at MIT) in order to recruit more staff, to conduct screening and outreach campaigns with the aim of helping troubled students to seek counseling, and provide counseling services that are more timely and more accessible.

Grasgreen (2014) reports that while a growing number of students who are seeking counseling help for anxiety continue to surge, counseling centers remain short-staffed. There is an average of one staff member for every 1,772 student on campus during the academic year. The author adds that the rise in demand is accompanied with tighter budgets. Therefore, 35 percent of the counseling centers directors stated that their budgets remained stagnant, and 53 percent reported the same about their operating budgets.

As regards strategic challenges, it was reported that the stigma attached to counseling prevents some student populations from seeking help. Consequently, 49 percent of directors maintained that black students remain underserved, 46 percent stated the same about Latino students and only 40 and 33 percent about Asian and Native American students. Part two will flesh out some of the variables that contribute to the challenges for the counseling centers, such as the correlation between gender/ ethnicity and students’ anxiety, depression, interpersonal relationships, and academic performance.


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