Published on March 18, 2019
Updated on Oct. 14, 2020
What are the most effective ways to navigate the stresses of college life—academic, interpersonal, financial, and physical?
Students began asking these questions more openly and frequently last semester, at the same time as they were finding it increasingly difficult to get counseling assistance for all but the most urgent situations.
Thus, the Success and Well-Being in Honors (SaW-H) program was launched this semester to provide preemptive assistance.
SaW-H is an educational awareness program that supports students in managing daily challenges of academic life, assists with major and career exploration, facilitates student mental well-being and growth, and connects students to wellness resources on campus.
This semester of the program will serve as a trial run to prepare for the full launch in the Fall of 2019. “We are seeing that MU and the Honors College are falling in line with the national trends,” notes Dr. Bowers, the director of the College. “More students are requesting more services and the programs that provide them are already maxed out. So, we wanted to be pro-active and provide services where students could become their own advocates and recognize and manage their own needs, when possible.”
With support from Honors College faculty, graduate students Felice Chen and Kristen Johnson are serving as the advisors for the SaW-H program. They will host weekly office hours, where students can drop in to discuss anything they wish.
Additionally, the graduate advisors will help organize activities for students like yoga classes, brown-bag seminars, and skill workshops, as well as refer students to additional resources that are beyond the scope of the program, like professional counselors or support networks.
In preparation for the launch of the program, a needs-survey, asking Honors students what factors in their lives caused the most stress, was opened for feedback and to gather data.
About 245 students took the survey, representing many of the College’s differing demographics—college or major, on or off-campus, residency, gender and identity.
The most popular causes for stress for the respondents were meeting the academic requirements for their major and the College, feelings of burnout, and the pressure of adulting. Additional answers included money management, coping with failure, and balancing school and social life.
And while the program already has several key workshops and forums planned, the answers to the needs-survey will be used to shape the content of many of the programs as well as create entirely new approaches to helping students.
At the program’s launch event, on March 13, Johnson spoke to Honors students about the unique stressors that they may encounter. She encouraged students to share their experiences in order to help shape the program.
“The Honors College can come with special stressors that are distinct from students around you,” Johnson said. “We want to figure out how to recognize those feelings but manage them and continue to live.”
Johnson and Chen will have office hours where students can drop in for one-on-one conversations, host workshops and seminars, and with the help of other grad students, even physical activities that can help with mindfulness, stress-reduction, and overall well-being.
For more information about the program, visit https://honors.missouri.edu/cherng-program-in-honors/saw-h-program/.