Whenever possible, speak directly to a student when you sense that he/she is in academic or personal distress. When you openly acknowledge that you are aware of the student’s distress, show that you are sincerely concerned about his/her welfare, and demonstrate a willingness to help them explore their alternatives, the student will usually see your actions as positive. Possible steps to take are:

  • Request to see the student in private. This may help minimize self-consciousness and defensiveness.
  • Briefly acknowledge your observations and perceptions of their situation and express your concerns directly and honestly without being judgmental.
  • Actively listen to what the student is troubled about by trying to see the issue from his/her point of view without necessarily agreeing or disagreeing.
  • Only involve yourself to the extent that you are comfortable. Sometimes, in an attempt to help a troubled student, you may become more involved than time or skill permits.
  • Discuss different options the student has for dealing with the problem. Try to include the advantages and disadvantages of each possible solution.