Recognizing “at-risk” behaviors are increasingly important in our efforts to help students persist and graduate from UMSL. Since students spend a good majority of their time in college interacting with faculty, knowing and being able to identify when a student is exhibiting “at risk” behaviors is critical in the intervention process. Below are some signs and warnings you should look out for:
- The student is frequently absent or arrives to class late
- The student submits work that is not meeting course expectations
- The student is absent from or unresponsive to peers concerning out of class group meetings/projects
- The student talks to you about leaving UMSL
- You notice that the student is uncharacteristically inattentive during course meetings or indifferent towards his/her success in the course
- You notice the student has had a significant behavioral/mood change or his/her appearance changes drastically
While the list above is not an “all inclusive” list and we encourage you to use your best professional judgment when determining the need for referrals, these are typical silent indicators that students may exhibit.
What should you do when you believe to have identified an “at-risk” student?
Depending on the impact of the student’s behavior on his/her academic success, there are different ways in which you could respond. Here are some examples:
- If you find that a student’s behavior is impeding their ability to be successful in the course, a referral to Student Retention Services via academic alert would be appropriate.
- If you find that a student’s behavior presents a danger to the self and/or others, a referral to Health, Wellness, & Counseling Services would be appropriate.
- If you find that the student’s behavior leads to disciplinary problems that are disruptive to your classroom’s environment, a referral to Student Affairs would be appropriate.
Suggesting that a student needs help is sometimes difficult. While the academic alert referral is done via the online academic alert system, other conversations may require a face-to-face meeting. Here are some tips you can use to guide leading these tough conversations:
- Don’t rehearse what you’re going to say. Remember, conversations are not performances. Make a commitment to sharing the roles of talking AND listening.
- Don’t make assumptions. In recognizing that the student may be “at-risk,” it’s common for us to also make some assumptions about why they are in tough situations. Make a commitment to being open and trying to understand the student’s circumstances.
- Don’t oversimplify the problem. Maybe having to balance the roles of school, work, and home life were not at all difficult for you but this student may seriously need some intervention. If s/he decides to open up to you, oversimplifying the problem could lead to total shut down.
Remember, we’re here to support you! If you ever find yourself in a tough position and not sure how to handle it, we encourage you to contact us!