Navigating Collegiate Experiences
University students face a variety of transition issues throughout their college years, but particularly when they first come to campus. These challenges include striving to fit in, adjusting to new academic demands with less oversight from teachers and parents, a desire to be independent, and pressure to select an academic focus that will be fulfilling and that will promote success in their futures.
While many adjust to change relatively smoothly, many do not. It is during times of transition, such as starting college, that many students report a heightened sense of isolation and loneliness. Many students believe that they are the only ones that are not fitting in. It is not uncommon for students struggling with change to believe that others do not care about them. We know that students who develop a strong sense of community at college are most likely to be retained and to graduate. Those who struggle with these transitions are at greater risk of mental health concerns, substance abuse issues, and attrition.
Counseling Center Peer Ambassador Program
It is not uncommon for students who use the Counseling Center to also be struggling to connect with their new home at BGSU. For many this sense of isolation further exacerbates the mental health concerns that brought them in. In response to this, the Counseling Center has developed a Peer Ambassador service that provides clients an opportunity to meet with a fellow undergraduate student to learn about various campus groups and events and to discuss strategies for becoming involved. These ambassadors are undergraduate psychology students who have expressed interest in the profession of psychology and were selected for a one year internship in the Counseling Center. These students do not provide psychotherapy to clients and do not have access to students’ clinical records. However, they have been highly successful in helping students get connected. In fact, students that have worked with a peer ambassador are shown to be retained at the University at a higher rate than the average student body.