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Explain the concept of the student service.

Role of Student support systems

The student service is a concept that is used to describe the departments providing student support in schools and colleges. Students support systems are important part in their academic career to ensure student growth and development. These services include assistance, student engagement, transition, prevention and follow-up services for students within the campus (Barry, Whiteman & MacDermid, 2014). In the recent years, student support systems have become very active to help students throughout their academic career. The functioning of student services varies from country to country (Whiteman & Barry, 2011). The colleges appoint student support services professionals assisting students and mentoring them in case of any problem faced by the students. There are direct services available for students such as counseling, consultation on issues, individual assessment and various other services that benefit the students in pursuing their educational goal. Colleges often conduct surveys to ensure if the students are aware of the student services available in the campus and the way they could use these services. A similar survey was conducted by the Mr. Robin Spark, V.P. Student Services of Conestoga college in Canada. The purpose of this survey was to identify the awareness of support services to students and if they are using these services or not. The survey would give him an opportunity to identify the needs of students, and ensure they are aware of these services.

Student support services contribute to the academic success of students and improve the quality of learning in their academic phase. As colleges and institution s are pouring with more students, it becomes a challenge for management to address the needs of every student. Colleges prepare students for active participation in society. Colleges professors, teachers and outsources organizations like no-governmental organizations contribute in improving student learning opportunities by organizing internships, short-term experiences at NGO’s and setting up experiential units that align with the student curriculum. There are services which help in building personal development of student and addressing to their emotional needs. These services encourage students to take proper decisions and resolve conflicts rationally (Perez, 2010). Although there are continuous involvement of teachers and professionals to address the needs of students, discrepancies still exist between the services available in the campus and the services availed by them. For an instance, student support service professionals may be inconsistent in providing the services to the students. In this situation, it requires for the college to review the services provided to the students by the professionals and if there is adequate awareness among students about these services.

The importance of student service support is obvious as it helps in decreasing the dropout rate in colleges. Dropout rates are mostly common in students who are unaware of the services available to them (Chen, 2012). Students coming from a different background, disadvantaged groups, rural areas, and from religious minorities may face difficulties in coping with rules and regulations of the colleges. This leads to higher dropout rates (Barbatis, 2010). The more colleges are able to invest in student support services, the lesser will be the dropout rates. It is very important for colleges to maintain a good relationship with its students and assisting student transition process in their university life. Colleges should also encourage students to develop a sense of belongingness to the campus community and build a friendly attitude towards fellow mates (Bradshaw, Pas, Goldweber, Rosenberg & Leaf, 2012). Professionals can help students in identifying resources that would financially help them in carrying out further education. These services teach students to be reasonable to any situation and develop problem solving skills. Colleges should also have programs and services for students who face difficulties in understanding the curriculum. These services will inculcate important values in students so that they respect different cultures, ethnic differences and races.

Analysis

A very important role of student support service is to provide opportunities for students to develop their leadership skills which will help them in taking up leadership roles in future. Professionals can build programs that will help in reducing misbehavior among students encourage them to adopt a healthy lifestyle (Gidman, McIntosh, Melling & Smith, 2011). Online services are also required to be made available to the students (Hart, 2012). Career guidance and assistance is one of the most important function of colleges in helping students to clarify their professional goals and provide opportunities for further study or employment.

A survey was created by Mr. Robin Spark, V.P. Student Services of Conestoga college in Canada to ensure that students are aware of the student services available in the college and whether they are using these services during their semesters. He is also hoping to identify ideas, opportunities and suggestions to ensure students are aware of, and use, the student services on campus. The survey was conducted within the college premises and there were 73 respondents of this survey. A set of structured questionnaire was framed to collect responses from the students and understand their viewpoint on the services provided to them by the college. The first question is regarding the nationality of the student.

 The Conestoga College in Canada welcomes international students to advance their educational career. From the above chart we can analyze that 59 percent students are international students studying in the college. The majority of the students are outsiders coming from different countries. 30 percent of the students are from Kitchener Waterloo area itself. Approximately 8 percent of the students are from another province in Canada and the remaining 2 percent are from the northern Ontario.

The next question was related to rating the awareness of the student support services at Conestoga College on the basis of types of services available to them.

From the above data collected from the 73 respondents, it is obvious that students are somewhat aware of the support services provided to them in the college. The services include Accessibility services, Career Hub, Learning commons, medical care clinic, student financial services, and services related to International Student Office. From the responses it is observed that most of the students have a translucent knowledge on the services available to them and they are not constantly reminded of these services. Approximately 35 percent of the students are almost aware of the Accessibility services available to them while only 31 percent of the students are aware of the career hub services. Interestingly, 60 percent of the students were well aware of the Learning Commons and medical care clinic facilities were known to approximately 39 percent of the crowd. Student Financial services were very well aware to the students and majority of the international students (approx. 64 percent) knew about the services they need to avail.

The third question focused on the responsibility of students to use these service and how often they use these services in between semesters. From the above graph it was analyzed that majority of the students (approx. 59 percent) have never availed the Accessibility services. The same goes with the Career hub services where 61. 11 percent of the students are not aware of these services and when to use them. Learning commons and International Student Office services were fairly used by the students. The Medical care facilities and financial services also seemed to be unused by the students. The overall picture says that majority of the students were aware of the services but never used them properly between the semesters.

Survey

The next fourth question focused on the use of these services before the semester. 63 percent of the respondents have never used the Accessibility services before this semester. 67 percent of the students never used the career hub services before this semester. The Learning commons, medical care clinic, student financial services and international student office services were not used by the students before this semester.

The next question dealt with identifying the effectiveness of the services provided by the college to the students. Although majority of the students were aware of few of the services and fairly used them during their semesters, they find all the services mentioned in the questionnaire effective and working for the benefit of them. International students seek assistance regarding these services and should avail them as and when required.

The last question focused on the importance of these services provided by the college for the betterment of the students. This says that these services are very important for students to be aware of and use them when required. The data says that majority of the respondents felt that services should be available at any time during their academic career which will help them to accomplish their educational goals.

In order to conduct survey and frame interview questions it was important to understand the services provided by Conestoga College to its students. The interview findings show that students are aware of the services available to them but fail to use them in between their semesters. The interviewees felt that college should be more responsive to their needs and make them aware of these services by way of regular emails, campaigns, counseling, providing internships and extra-curricular activities. These will help in lowering the rates of college dropouts and students will be more engaged to participate in the activities conducted by the colleges. The V.P. of college wishes to derive opportunities to bring in changes to improve the effectiveness of these services. If there is no awareness, and the services will not be used on time, there will not be any way left to measure the effectiveness of these services. International students prove to be a good source to understand if the services are effective or not as majority of these services are used by them only.

Conclusion

The students come to any learning institute for acquiring knowledge. However, they need some services and facilities so that their learning experience is enhanced. The academic success of the students is impacted by the effectiveness of the services that they are provided. In this case the Conestoga College students are not much aware of the different services that are available for them at their educational institute. There are many international students who are either unaware of the existence international student office or they find these services very ineffective. The students can also avail the career hub which is very useful for them to get a job. There are other services like medical care clinic which is of great significance in case of medical emergencies. But this service too has least usefulness to the students. The accessibility services, learning commons, financial services are some of the other services which a minority of students are aware of or have ever used during their learning duration. The 59 per cent international students are almost helpless in the foreign educational institute with least services which are effectives and useful to them. The availability of the services is not enough because unless these services are accessed it would be useless to have them in the institute. The services which are being provided need to be managed by the college authority so that they are effective in nature. As the students are increasing in their numbers, their needs are also increasing. Hence the management of the college must take into consideration the requirements of the students and provide them the most appropriate and adequate services.

The students can perform better in their academics or they can even be more successful in their life in future if they can utilize and make the most of their learning years. Not only the theoretical knowledge or the practical classes, but there is also a need of proper career guidance. This can be effectively provided by the career hub. This service is however almost non-functional to the international as well as the native students. The medical services and the financial services are also very important and of urgent requirement to the students. These two services are hardly used during the course of a semester by the students. The international students can be facilitated if they can access the international students’ office which is lacking at present. There is a need for creating more awareness about the existing services available for the students.

The awareness can be spread among the students by various methods:

The students can be offered an orientation programme at the beginning of every semester so that they can be aware of the various services available to the students.

The different service wings can have mid semester campaign sessions which can help the students access these services.

The student cell has to be made more dynamic and active in addressing the problems and the needs of the students

The students need their representatives so that they can talk about their problems which can be resolved through most of the service accessibility.

The advertisement and awareness of the services can be made better through student magazine promotion, notice board promotion, college website, social site page of the students, etc.

The management board has to provide sufficient funds so that the student service cells can be working actively to address the requirements of the students.

After making the students educated, the college career hub can collaborate with many more business organizations so that they can be made employable in future.

The career hub can be like a job counseling cell, providing placements to the students. Once some students benefit from the services, they can spread the awareness of these services among the other students through their word of mouth promotion.

A student help app can be launched which will be handled by the management of the college. As per the requirements of the students they can access the various services through the app.

There could be various articles, blogs and pamphlets circulated among the students so that they can be aware of the medical clinic and care services as well as the financial services.

 The learning commons and accessibility services should be made more accessible by making the service wings approachable.

The heads of the service wings need to be cooperative and supportive towards the students’ requirements so that they feel free to approach them whenever required.

There could be open student interaction sessions where the various needs of the students can be compared and finally they could be channelized to the various service wings.

Development of the social media platform is the most effective way of making the student services effective, dynamic and functional.

The above mentioned recommendations could help the services to be known among the students as well as accessible by them.

References

Barbatis, P. (2010). Underprepared, Ethnically Diverse Community College Students: Factors Contributing to Persistence. Journal of Developmental Education, 33(3), 16.

Barry, A. E., Whiteman, S. D., & MacDermid Wadsworth, S. (2014). Student service members/veterans in higher education: A systematic review. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 51(1), 30-42.

Bradshaw, C. P., Pas, E. T., Goldweber, A., Rosenberg, M. S., & Leaf, P. J. (2012). Integrating school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports with tier 2 coaching to student support teams: The PBIS plus model. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 5(3), 177-193.

Chen, R. (2012). Institutional characteristics and college student dropout risks: A multilevel event history analysis. Research in Higher Education, 53(5), 487-505.

Gidman, J., McIntosh, A., Melling, K., & Smith, D. (2011). Student perceptions of support in practice. Nurse education in practice, 11(6), 351-355.

Hart, C. (2012). Factors associated with student persistence in an online program of study: A review of the literature. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 11(1).

Perez, W. (2010). Higher Education Access for Undocumented Students: Recommendations for Counseling Professionals. Journal of College Admission, 206, 32-35.

Whiteman, S. D., & Barry, A. E. (2011). A comparative analysis of student service member/veteran and civilian student drinking motives. Journal of student affairs research and practice, 48(3), 297-313.

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