The Top Three Challenges Students Face

April 26, 2023 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 in life generally. 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. Some of the most common areas where students face challenges include:

  • Academics
  • Accessibility
  • Finances
  • Living environments
  • Mental health and wellness
  • Relationship difficulties

In this post, we'll be focusing on the top three challenges that students face.

Financial Uncertainty

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 use loans to pay educational expenses and help make ends meet, many are also faced with the reality of student loan debt after graduation.

Consequently, almost all students struggle with determining how they are going to pay for college. 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 so many students must 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?

Difficulty 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 juggle part-time jobs, internships, and extracurricular activities like intercollegiate athletics. These responsibilities can be overwhelming for anyone, especially someone who has not attended college before or who has been out of school for many years.

Many individuals find it hard to prioritize tasks, manage time effectively, and ask for help when it is needed. But given that increased stress and anxiety levels can make good decision-making even harder, it's easy to see why managing commitments is the second most frequent challenge faced by college students today.

Inadequate Academic Preparedness

It is not uncommon for college students to realize too late that their previous academic preparation was not at the level it needed to be to help them perform at the college level. Perhaps the underprepared student didn't take the appropriate college preparatory courses or stay in certain academic courses long enough to retain the required information. 

This means that the underprepared student will likely need 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. Many colleges and universities have students who earned satisfactory grades in high school but struggle to write a good paragraph or solve an algebra equation.

Help Your Students Achieve Success

These challenges can be extremely stressful for students and confounding for instructors, and this gap between high school and college performance can 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.

We've created Watermark Student Success & Engagement (formerly Aviso Coaching) to help institutions more easily track student challenges, document communications, identify interventions, collaborate with other institutional resources, and 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 today.

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