Counselors in tertiary institutions typically work in student services or counseling centers and provide a range of services to support students’ mental health and well-being, academic success, and personal growth.
Tertiary institution counselors may work with students who are facing challenges related to academic stress, relationship issues, anxiety and depression, substance abuse, and more.
They may also provide career counseling and support for students who are preparing for life after graduation. Overall, counselors in tertiary institutions play an important role in helping students navigate the unique challenges of college life and prepare for a successful future.
Common Issues Handled by Counselors in Tertiary Schools
Here are 20 common cases that counselors in tertiary institutions may handle:
1. Mental health support
The most common cases handled by counselors in tertiary institutions are mental health issues. This is because university students, unlike elementary and secondary school, are now adults and have many concerns to care about aside from their academics.
Counselors may provide counseling and therapy for students struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and, in severe cases, bipolar disorder.
2. Substance abuse
Tertiary school counselors also handle many cases of substance abuse. This can be accompanied by cultism as well. Counselors may provide education, prevention, and support for students struggling with drug and alcohol abuse.
A tertiary school counselor will also need to develop strategies and campaigns against substance abuse.
3. Academic support
Counselors in tertiary institutions may provide academic support to students struggling with time management, study skills, and test anxiety.
It is not uncommon to find students who are facing difficulties with their academics as a result of disagreements with lecturers. Counselors must know how to settle this wisely.
4. Career counseling
Although intense vocational guidance is done at the secondary school level, the reality of having to worry about what to do in the future dawns more on students at the university level. Counselors may provide career counseling and guidance to help students explore career options, prepare for job interviews, and develop resumes.
5. Relationship issues
Counselors at universities and colleges handle a lot of relationship issues. They provide support and guidance for students dealing with issues involving romantic relationships, friendships, and family relationships.
Some university students might even be married and have to deal with spouses and babies while studying. Counselors can guide them on how to balance all these commitments and maintain mental wellness.
6. Financial difficulties
Counselors may provide financial counseling and support for students facing financial challenges or those managing student debt. This service is under the Students Personnel or Work and Study division of the school.
If students have to stop schooling due to the severity of their financial crisis, the tertiary education counselor will also guide them on the options that will prevent the termination of their studies.
7. Disability support
Handling persons living with disabilities (PLWDs) is another of the responsibilities of tertiary institution counselors. Counselors may provide support and counseling for students with disabilities to help them navigate academic and social challenges.
Counselors may be, for instance, assigned to hearing-impaired students to aid them with sign language translation during lectures.
8. LGBTQ+ support
Counselors may provide support and counseling for students who identify as LGBTQ+ and are dealing with issues related to sexuality, gender identity, and discrimination.
This is mostly a thing with counselors in America and Asia but it’s slowly creeping into Africa and counselors can now expect such cases to come to their tables.
9. International student support
Of all the levels of education, tertiary education accounts for most of the international travel for education. Counselors may provide support for international students who are adjusting to a new culture, language, and academic system.
10. Grief and loss
Cases of loss of parents loved ones, and even classmates can occur while students are in tertiary school. This, if not handled well, can lead to trauma or affect their academic performance.
Counselors may provide support and counseling for students dealing with grief and loss, including the loss of a loved one or a significant life change.
Other cases handled by higher institution counselors include
11. Stress management
Counselors may provide stress management techniques and support for students dealing with academic or personal stress.
12. Time management
Counselors may provide time management techniques and support for students struggling to balance academics, work, and social life.
13. Sleep disorders
Counselors may provide counseling and support for students struggling with sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea.
14. Mental health awareness
Counselors may work to increase awareness of mental health issues and reduce the stigma around seeking help for mental health challenges.
15. Sexual assault and harassment
Counselors may provide counseling and support for students who have experienced sexual assault or harassment.
16. Eating disorders
Counselors may provide counseling and support for students struggling with eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder.
17. Study abroad support
Counselors may provide support and counseling for students studying abroad to help them navigate cultural differences, homesickness, and academic challenges.
18. Leadership development
Counselors may provide opportunities for students to develop leadership skills and engage in service projects.
19. Trauma counseling
Counselors may provide counseling and support for students who have experienced trauma, such as abuse, violence, or a natural disaster.
20. Post-graduation planning
Counselors may provide counseling and support for students preparing to graduate, including career planning, job search skills, and graduate school applications.
We have covered 20 of the most common issues brought to counselors in tertiary schools. The severity and prevalence of these issues, however, depend on individual regions.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.