When You Need a Hand

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

By Camille Kirsch, News Editor

College can be an amazing time, but it can also be an intimidating one. Increased independence, rigorous academics, and a thriving social scene offer opportunities that many first-years have never experienced before.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by student life, you’re not alone, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. The University provides many resources to help struggling students of all ages meet the challenges of college life.

Academic Assistance

Many students find that courses at the University of Chicago will be the most rigorous they’ve ever taken. It’s normal to feel a little intimidated by your first-year coursework, and it’s equally normal to turn to the college’s many academic resources for help.

Every incoming student is assigned an academic advisor. Your academic advisor will stay with you for all four years and can offer you advice on class selection, keeping your grades up, and choosing a major. Your advisor can also help with personal difficulties, including finances. Think of them as a first line of defense when you notice you’re struggling with something.

If you have questions about specific concepts or assignments in your Core classes, the College Core Tutors are there to help. Starting second week, tutors are available Sunday through Thursday on the third floor of Harper Memorial Library from 7–11 p.m. Tutors are graduate students or well-qualified upperclassmen. They’re a great resource if you want advice on your Hum essay or help with a stubborn calculus problem set.

Some students find that their academic habits are not serving them well in their university classes. If you’re struggling with time management, memory, concentration, close reading, or studying for exams, the Academic Skills Assessment Program (ASAP) may help. ASAP sessions are held throughout the quarter, generally at 4 p.m. on Fridays, and each session focuses on a different skill. You can sign up through the Student Health and Counseling Services website. You can also make a one-on-one appointment to meet with an ASAP counselor by calling (773) 702-9800, and the ASAP webpage offers links to helpful resources.

Health and Wellness

It’s important to stay healthy in college—especially when winter rolls around. Student Health Service (SHS) offers a wide array of health care services, many of which are covered under the Student Life Fee. Routine physicals, acute and chronic care, Pap smears, STI testing, flu vaccination, travel consults, allergy injection visits, sports medicine consults, educational materials, workshops, and health counseling are all free if you’ve paid your Student Life Fee. Student Health can be reached at (773) 702-4156. SHS also offers a nurse helpline which you can call for advice on whether to seek medical treatment.

If you are experiencing a serious medical event and need urgent care, you can go to the UChicago Medicine emergency room. Be aware that this may not be fully covered by your insurance, and ambulance transportation is often especially expensive. You can consult your RAs, RHs, or the nurse helpline for advice if you are unsure whether or not you need to go to the emergency room. If you or someone around you needs an ambulance, call 911.

Several Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) focus on health topics. Peer Health Exchange trains students to provide sex education workshops in high schools. Sex Education Activists advocates for accurate sexual health education on campus and across the country. Art of Living teaches stress management techniques.

Counseling and Support

Staying healthy doesn’t just mean physical health—it includes mental health and emotional wellbeing. If you’re experiencing symptoms of mental illness or you want advice from a counseling professional, Student Counseling Service (SCS) is there for you.

SCS offers therapy and counseling to students. Like SHS, many of its services are covered under the Student Life Fee. You can make an appointment with SCS by calling (773) 702-9800 during business hours or, if you need emergency care, by walking in. All appointments with SCS are confidential unless your clinician feels that you are a danger to yourself or others. SCS operates on a short-term therapy model, and after receiving a course of therapy, students may be referred to non-University clinicians if they would benefit from longer-term intervention.

The University also offers support services targeted at specific populations of students. Student Support Services offers advising and aid for first-generation, low-income, or undocumented students. The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) supports students from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds, and offers diversity training and resources. The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Student Life serves LGBTQ+ students and hosts queer-focused events for the campus community.

If you’re looking for a more student-driven support community, there are several RSOs that may fit the bill. To name just a few: Queers and Associates is the largest queer-oriented RSO on campus; the UChicago LGBT Business Alliance offers networking opportunities and guidance on how to navigate the professional world while “out”; and Asexuali-tea provides a meeting place for asexual students.

Many associations gather students of different ethnicities, including the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS), the South Asian Student Association (SASA), and the Organization of Black Students (OBS). Students Promoting Interracial Networks brings together students of different races and ethnicities to encourage diverse communities. The Student-Parent Group provides support for student parents.

Crisis Resources

Some situations require an urgent response. The University maintains a 24-hour Dean-on-Call and Sexual Assault Dean-on-Call program. If you are experiencing a crisis, call (773) 834-HELP (4357) and you’ll reach a trained University administrator who can help. The Dean-on-Call may offer advice, referrals to other University services, help with reporting crimes to the police, housing assistance, and de-escalation services in critical situations.

The Dean-on-Call is a private resource, but not an anonymous one; if you call, your name and identifying information may be given to the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) and other University personnel who are needed to help. In some cases, the Dean-on-Call may inform your Resident Heads, Area Dean of Students, family, and friends of your call. If this is the case, you will be consulted; however, there is no guarantee that the Dean-on-Call will keep information confidential.

You can also call the UCPD or 911 if you’re experiencing a crime or a health emergency.