While the winter holiday is quickly approaching, it’s the time of year when stressors begin to build. As the semester is wrapping up, the Office of Disability Resources (ODR) would like to remind all students of resources available on campus that provide valuable support.
We understand that each student is unique in their learning needs and communication style. We also know that some students may have a harder time communicating when feeling overwhelmed for many valid reasons. If your student is registered with ODR and is experiencing challenges, we encourage your student to communicate their concerns and challenges with us. It’s important to remember that ODR is able to best support when there is open and honest communication between students and our staff. When this communication does not happen, or happens after problems are already present, often issues are much more difficult to resolve.
Some suggestions to facilitate open communication:
- Be supportive.
- Consider the language you use when communicating with your student. Is your student able to share openly if they are struggling? College students often place a lot of pressure on themselves to succeed and may feel it is difficult to share when they are overwhelmed or not doing well. Research indicates that family support is one of the most critical supports for a student. Being a safe, nonjudgmental resource for your student to share their concerns with and go to for advice is one of the most important supports that can be offered to a student.
- Ask specific questions.
- We know that it’s easier to ask general questions such as “how are classes going?” instead of “what was your last assignment in your English class?” or “did you have the chance to review the questions you missed on your exam in math with your professor, and what did they talk with you about?” but when asking specific questions, it’s easier to pick up on issues that may not otherwise be apparent when a student can provide a general answer.
- Encourage your students to connect with resources on campus.
- There are many resources available for students at UMW! More information is provided below this list.
- Pay attention to changes.
- More college students are experiencing significant mental health challenges than in the past. Changes in behavioral and emotional functioning, including differences in the way your student is communicating with you may indicate that your student is experiencing significant stressors and may benefit from additional support from you or other professionals. Helping your student with getting connected to the right supports early on is an effective way to support.
- If you don’t know, ask!
- Encourage your student to reach out with questions as they come up and get the answers they need. The longer they wait and the more questions that pile up, the more challenging it may be to make progress.
Please know that there are many additional resources available to all students. The ODR has developed a Student Support Resource Flyer that provides a description of many resources at UMW. The majority of these resources are available to any student at UMW.
Jessica Machado, Director, Office of Disability Resources