Importance Of Student Support Service in The Growth Of Students – Student support system or service is a way for colleges to understand how to deliver support both inside and outside the classroom to improve the success of the students. In some context, it is called student affairs while some others call it student support but in a nutshell, its aim is to enhance the growth and development and success of students. The student services enhance the quality of the students learning experience and promotes academic success. These services are key components of many academic systems. The student support services help students who are not able to proceed in their educational pursuit after high school to have the opportunity to study at a higher level.
According to (Hill et al, 2003), students support and service contributes to the quality of students learning experience and their academic performance. Studies show that the most important factors in education quality assurance are: quality of teaching/ learning and service systems and support for students. Though student services and support differs from one institution to another, the major aim is to improve the growth and development of the students.
In this article, we will be discussing:
- Who is a student?
- What are student services?
- Importance of student services
- Factors that affects the efficiency of student services
- How can student services be improved?
WHO IS A STUDENT?
Many contexts have defined a student and all the definitions point at the fact that students are learners. According to Wikipedia, “a student is primarily a person enrolled in a school or other educational institution and who is a under learning with goals of acquiring knowledge, developing professions and achieving easy employment in a particular field”. A student is anyone whether children, youths or adult subjected to learning in any form of educational institution.
The students are believed to have come to school to achieve academic aspirations and also self-development. This belief has expanded the school and they are aware of the need to satisfy the social and emotional needs of the students. Most students face some sort of difficulty in their pursuit for academic success. Some of the problems some students face are:
- Students attendance
- Family income
- Teacher-student ratio
- Distance of schools
- Presence of trained teachers in school
All these factors form an infringement on the academic success of the students because some students lack finance to pursuit their academic aspiration up to higher education, some stay far from the schools and some others factors as it has being highlighted above.
Some institutions have taken it upon themselves to introduce student support services to help encourage the students in their pursuit for success. They have channeled these services in different ways to cater for the needs of the students.
WHAT ARE STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES?
Student services are concerned with providing services that will support students to achieve their academic goals. This department is responsible for administering financial assistance to students. The support system provides direct services for all children and youths especially those that are experiencing problems that hinders the learning process. The student support services are designed to help students who may need extra assistance in their academics. The institutions use their conglomerated expertise and efforts to help students and meet their needs.
Many institutions and nations address the student support services with different names:
- (Australia, Iceland and Ireland) call it student services.
- (Portugal) call it student support services
- (Spain) termed it students and employment unit
- (Norway) refer to it as student welfare organization
- (Azerbaijan, Scotland and Singapore) call it student affairs
Whichever name it is being called, they have the best interest of the students at heart.
For university students, the services will contribute to their academic and personal development and help students who have difficulty in adapting to university life. When a school can invest in a wide range of services, it will boost their ability to meet the needs of students in learning and development and maintain a high rate of student satisfaction and reduce the rate of university dropout. It is very important in the academic system.
IMPORTANCE OF STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICE
The services schools offer to students have a way of improving their performance in most areas of their lives. These services encourage them and this in turn helps add value to the society. A student that turns out to be useful will definitely be useful to the society. The society will benefit from the gained knowledge.
Here are some of the importance of student services to the students and also the society.
- The services help reduce the rate of dropout
Most services rendered by some schools include giving financial aids to students. It can be in form of a loan or giving them paid jobs to help them cater for their needs. These services help students meet up and cover essential expenses instead of losing interest and dropping out of school. Without effective and proper student services, students that do not have a connection or attachment or bond whether academically, socially or emotionally with the institution will at some point give up and lose interest.
- Improve the quality of teaching and learning
An institution that has an effective support system will have an improved teaching and learning process. Some schools offer services like counseling, career advice and skill acquisition and these services help to give the students more insight on their field of study and create room for proper learning of values. The professionals or trained personnel of the support system will counsel the students on the best way to excel in their career. A comprehensive and coordinated support system for students will develop a learning climate that will be conducive for the students so as to achieve high academic standards. This will also make the teaching and learning process easy and hitch free.
- It prepares students for active participation in the society
The ability for institutions to offer support services to students will in its own way spur their creativity and boost their innovative spirit especially as service that entails skill acquisition, internship programs and many other services that will help expose the students to life outside the classroom and give them a sense of duty to their society at large.
- It helps students clarify their professional goals
The programme exposes individuals (students) to a variety of learning experiences. It provides counseling and career guidance which is a helping hand for students in making decisions and choosing the right career. For instance, a high school that has a student support service like counseling and guidance unit, this unit will help to guide the student and advise them on how to be sound academically, socially and mentally. Most times, high school students are confused on the right career to pursue, an institution and society with an effective student support programme will guide the student into fitting into the right place. This will help them in their transition into university life as they would not find it difficult to adapt and fit in properly. Due to counseling and career guidance, they would have developed love for their profession and enthusiasm to push through.
- It helps in providing special programmes for students that are having learning difficulties
Most times, students have problems learning, it could be due to illnesses or disabilities but the support programme offers special programmes to help this set of students learn irrespective of their health challenges or emotional trauma. It could be a program where they teach using sign language specifically for disabled students. Most institutions create an avenue for personal tutor and students learning process so as to improve the learning abilities of students and make them explore and clarify their values.
- They provide financial aids for students to further their education
This financial aid could be inform of scholarships as a way to encourage students that want to further their education but are having difficulties financially. The government and society also have a role to play in the provision of financial aids to students because in the long run, the students will give back to the society. This financial aid could be loans from (NGOs, government or schools), grants or work-study jobs to help the students cover up most of the expenses.
Most of the services are given to high school students to help them through their higher education. It could be on merit-based or need-based but whichever way, it is a way of improving and promoting academic excellence.
- It fosters a good and healthy relationship between students
In the bid of giving career advice and counsel to the student, the tutor tend to grow attached to them and form a good relationship with the students and the students starts seeing them as mentors, guardians and friends. This will help the students learn better and in some cases, reduce misbehavior. A career advice or guidance will spur the enthusiasm and give a student a sense of direction as a professional or career goal has been set and the tutors or counselor are there to nurture the students.
FACTORS THAT AFFECT THE EFFICIENCY OF STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICE
The efficiency and effectiveness of student services will go a long way in improving the academic and social performance of the students. The student services are built to cover major areas of students’ life; academics, finance, career and profession.
But it is seen that some factors hinder the progress of this student services. Some of these factors or challenges are highlighted below:
- Lack of funds or inadequate funding
Most student services fail to live up to expectation due to inadequate funding. For these services to survive, they need adequate or proper funding. These funds are provided by institutions or communities to help cater for the needs of the students.
- Diversity in needs of the students
The requirements of the students in schools differ because of the dynamic nature of individuals. This might be due to the increase in size of the students as a result of increasing population and also different race, ethnicity and family background. All the aforementioned leads to diversity which becomes problem for the student support system as they would have difficulties catering for the numerous needs of the large population of students.
- The ratio of tutors to students
The ratio of tutors or professionals to student is really low. In some cases, it might be 1 to 1000 or 10 to 10000 but in any case, there are a large number of students allocated to a little number of tutors and this will reduce the efficiency of the student service rendered to the students.
- Efficiency of professionals and tutors
The ability of the tutors employed in the student support system to carry out their jobs effectively will improve the quality of the student services. For instance, a career adviser or counselor that doesn’t have time for his or her students will make those set of students lose interest in seeking career advice and even lose interest in education. The efficiency of tutors in carrying out these services and functions goes a long way in boosting the enthusiasm of the students as they would see the tutors as mentors and role models they would love to emulate.
- Population of the students
This is a major challenge many institutions face as they admit a large number of students and this in turn puts pressure on the services of the school. The population of the students affects the demand and access to the services. And in some cases, the services may not be able to cover the requirements of the growing population.
HOW CAN STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICE BE IMPROVED?
The student support system needs to be improved in order to meet the needs and requirements of the increasing population of students in the university. Some of the few ways the system can be improved is highlighted below.
- The institutions should make the success of the students a priority
The institution should center their support system towards satisfaction and success of the students and this will improve the efficiency of the system. They should be success –oriented and geared towards improving the performance of the university students.
- Locate student services centrally
When student services are located centrally, they will be easy to access for all students and there will be a decrease in the time spent in waiting to use the student services like clinics and banks (ATM).
- Create a special program for some students having difficulties
The support system should provide special program for some students who may be having difficulties. It could be health wise or financially. The support system should create a program geared towards supporting the students and working on their academic performance.
- Removal of barriers to easy access of the student services
When students face bottlenecks in trying to assess these services, they get demoralized and tend to lose interest. The institutions should try to reduce the obstacles to easy access of these services so as to make students have an easy ride in using the services to meet their needs.
- Adequate funding by the institution or society(government)
The support system will function well if it is adequately funded. The facilities to meet the needs of the students will be provided and in sufficient amount.
- Employ more professional and tutors to meet the increasing number of students
One problem student support services have is the ratio of tutors to students. Therefore it is important for institutions to increase the number of professionals or tutors employed to render the services to the students so as to meet the rising population of students.
Student services play a key role in retaining students, satisfying them and improving their academic success. The services could be from career coaching, academic support, job placement and internship, skill acquisition, loans and grants by institutions or government, scholarships and many others. The student support system needs to be improved so students can have access to the services irrespective of their status or background and this will help them attain success in their academics and career. Barriers to easy access of these services should be removed or reduced so that the students won’t be demoralized in their academic pursuit. Students services are very essential in every school whether high school, universities and other educational institutions.
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