The Top Three Challenges Students Face

February 14, 2022 Watermark Insights

Many students begin their college quest with hopes and dreams of earning a degree and improving their situation at home, at work, or life in general. Often, after students begin their college experience they are faced with obstacles and challenges that can seem insurmountable. For some students it just slows them down, for others, it can stop them from achieving those hopes and dreams. Regardless of the type of institution: public or private, big or small, two-year or four-year, we often hear about and witness the same issues from our current and prospective clients regarding challenges students are having to overcome. This post identifies the top three challenges that students face.


Most students can't write a personal check or dip into a savings account to pay for tuition, books, and other educational expenses. Many others also fret about how they are going to support themselves and their families while enrolled in higher education. Since the majority of college students utilize student loans to pay educational expenses and help make ends meet, students are also faced with the reality of student loans and debt after graduation.

Consequently, almost all students struggle with determining how they are going to pay for college. It is a near-universal phenomenon. Students stress over how to pay for college now and how they are going to be able to afford to pay off their loans in the future. It is truly a big investment and a troubling dilemma that most students ask themselves: How do I pay for school and maintain my other obligations today so that my family and I can have a better life tomorrow?

Managing Commitments

Balancing work, school, and family is another major challenge students face. Many adult, community college, and online students must hold down jobs, attend school, and take care of a family. Even traditional college students have to manage part-time jobs, internships, and extracurricular activities like intercollegiate athletics that they have to juggle. These responsibilities can be overwhelming for anyone, especially someone who has not attended college before or been out of school for many years.

All of these commitments can often lead to an overwhelmed student. Many individuals find it hard to prioritize tasks, manage time effectively and ask for help when it is needed. Therefore, it is safe to say that managing commitments is the second most frequent challenge faced by college students today.

Academic Preparedness

Many college students face the realization that their previous academic preparation was not at the level it needed to be in order to perform academically at the college level. Perhaps the underprepared student may not have taken the appropriate college preparatory courses or have not taken academic courses for such a long period of time that the required information has not been retained.

This means that the underprepared student will likely require remedial courses in order to regain or attain a base level of academic competency. In fact, this phenomenon of students requiring remedial education is a growing challenge at institutions across the country. Even the most selective colleges and universities have students that earned strong grades in high school but struggle to write a good paragraph or solve an algebra equation.

These challenges can be extremely stressful for students and can often be the reasons that lead to student attrition. As a student service professional, identifying and understanding these challenges students face is a key component of the job. Helping students work their way through these obstacles can be both rewarding and difficult.

To help, we have created Watermark Student Success & Engagement (formerly Aviso Coaching) to track student challenges, document communications, identify interventions, collaborate with other institutional resources and easily make referrals. To learn more about the other features and tools available in Watermark Student Success & Engagement and how you can help your students achieve their goals, request a demo to learn more.

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