How Colleges Can Support Student Caregivers
When people think of college students, they generally think of young adults with few responsibilities. Yet a growing number of college students are juggling classes with caring for children, spouses, siblings, and parents with disabilities and chronic illnesses. In fact, more than half of family caregivers are between the ages of 18 and 49 years old.
The number of college student caregivers is expected to grow as baby boomers age. Colleges and universities can better serve their entire student body by keeping the needs of these students in mind.
Providing Support for Student Caregivers
A 2017 study from the University of Southern Florida found that college student caregivers had higher symptoms of depression and anxiety than students without caregiving responsibilities. But these at-risk students are often cut off from traditional on-campus support.
The demands of caregiving mean that most student caregivers live off-campus, and some may only attend remotely. This means that university support programs need to make a more proactive approach to reach these students and provide new ways to connect.
The use of telehealth visits and video conferencing can make it easier for college student caregivers to access university support services and academic coaching. Being able to provide access to university, community, and government resources can provide students with a safety net that sets them up for success.
Resources that assist with student caregiver expenses can be particularly helpful including laptop sharing programs, emergency financial aid, affordable childcare, food assistance, and affordable family housing.
Meeting Unique Student Needs
The most important thing a university can do to support college student caregivers is to encourage professors and advisors to learn more about the student caregiver’s unique situation. Opening up the lines of communication through student-centered teaching allows professors to maintain high standards while still offering flexibility when emergency situations arise.
Universities can also help college student caregivers by making the admissions process easier for non-traditional students who may not have the support of parents or a guidance counselor in completing applications or applying for financial aid.
Students pursue higher education to develop new skills and improve their lives. The demands of caregiving make attaining these goals more challenging, but a supportive and encouraging collegiate environment can ensure college student caregivers have the tools they need for a lifetime of success.
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care supports families dealing with a diagnosis of a serious or terminal illness by providing care and caregiver resources. To learn more, please call 1-888-564-3405.
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