The Issues Faced by Students in Higher Education
Students that have enrolled in higher education are bound to encounter certain issues that they are not comfortable with and unable to deal with easily. As all students are different, they will have different issues that will affect their education and academic goals. Each student will need to deal with their problems and seek further help if it is affecting their studies, or else they will dropout of higher education and also lead to further despair. International students enrolling for further education in the UK or US for example, will also confront challenges and may find themselves unhappy.
Students may feel homesick especially if they study hundreds of miles away from home, or even if they are foreign students which is more difficult to handle. Of course, with today's technology, people can now communicate with their friends and family from anywhere around the world, but for students in particular, being homesick is still an issue despite the option of video calling. According to a 2008 report conducted by the National Union of Students (NUS), between 50-70 percent of new students have felt homesick in their first week in the UK which is generally a high figure. Few international students have learnt to tackle and overcome homesickness by putting their own methods into practice so it does not become an obstacle for them. By allowing them themselves plenty of time and space by making new friends and getting involved in activities in the university helps them focus more on their studies is an example.
Sometimes, students in general have to get used to the idea that they are far away from home for a reason. The first week (known as freshers' week) is usually the hardest. After a few days of that week, it starts to hit them and that is when they miss home. Some emotional, psychological and physical symptoms can include:
- Crying alone
- Inability to focus on studies
- Sleep trouble
- Body tremors
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Feeling of imprisonment
- Sense of not belonging at college/university
- Feeling isolated from the rest.
- Past memories bringing emotional pain
These are some examples of homesickness when students are far away. It is like they have lost everything in their life, but it usually fades out as time goes by. Being homesick after all is not a weakness, it is normal for everybody whether you are a student or not. This issue can be coped because a lot of other students in the freshers' week will surely feel the same, even though they seem to appear fine. Communication is very important and seeking advice from friends, family and professionals at the educational institute is beneficial. Students should remember they are not alone.
Mind-boggling as it may seem, time management is another critical issue faced in higher education. We all think there is not enough hours in a day to do the things we want to do. In college/university, time will have an effect on every student. It will put severe pressure on their studies when they have to submit work before a deadline for example. In this case, they need to create time to do homework or outside university times if they live too far from home in that case. If they fail to do that, it will cause problems in their academic achievements and lecturers will give less marks. Poor time management leads to anxiety that creates pressure.
Procrastination is the biggest culprit when managing time. It stops students doing the relevant work and leaving it too late. For those who choose to do certain activities that are unnecessary will never appreciate the use of time because they are wasting it instead of doing important things. The get the most out of time to achieve academic goals, students should adhere to key skills and practices that actually work in their favor. This makes all the difference because of the way time is being used, and once time passes, it will not return. Other primary time stealers whilst in higher education can include:
- Going on dates
- Watching TV
- Oversleeping or lack of sleep
- Social networking
- Chatting on phone
- Partying with friends
- Social appointments
- Driving in rush hour
These are some fine examples of time stealers and may hinder your progress in your studies. However, these things can be planned properly or even by delaying them. The challenge here is self-management and study skills that students will face and have difficulties adapting to them. The worse thing students can do is going out to parties and having excessive amounts of alcohol. This is a disaster that will create further problems the next morning when they have a hangover. As well as being a time stealer, it is futile and proves nothing. Students will also stress on how to arrive on time in classes and have a good punctual record. This issue has to be dealt with by good planning such as leaving home early, or maybe even dumping certain activities that are not required for example.
Time management strategies are also available for students to implement. The most basic one is future planning by noting them down on a notebook to keep track of time. The other key concept is the 4D strategy which are:
- Do - The most important thing is doing something that is relevant.
- Dump - This means dumping any useless activities to save time.
- Delay - Important activities that can be delayed for a later date.
- Delegate - Making some one else to do your work for you such as doing your shopping whether you want to pay them or not for example.
Having to face time management issues, students can surely benefit from strategic planning. This decreases their burden and they will not stress so much on doing their studies. As time waits for no man, it cannot always be managed but it depends on how you use it. Students achievements and success depends on time and how they manage it. The more sacrifice on futile things, the better it is for them for their future.
Shyness is a very sensitive issue faced by shy students. They tend to stay quiet throughout the lessons in class in the hope that the teacher does not ask them any questions to answer in front of other students. They have difficulty in communicating and making new friends as well. They like to keep themselves to themselves which can be a big struggle. However, many shy students wish they can overcome their shyness because they see this issue as a weakness. The inability to participate in group sessions and teamwork is a hindrance to their progression. Shyness makes them feel worthless and unwanted by other people.
Shy students should realize there is nothing wrong about them, and being in college or university is a good opportunity to gain confidence and growth. The good news is that there are other students who are facing the same issue and having trouble making new friends. Rather than feeling limited, being shy can act as a motivation to get involved with others in the campus who share the same interests. Few students who have speech difficulties are the most anxious and wish they were unnoticed. Their worst fears is when they have to deliver a speech to the class and worry they will stammer. This will be a very embarrassing situation for them.
According to several journals and researchers, they regard shyness to be a mental health issue. This puts more strain on shy students because they eventually become stressed and anxious, and are unable to deal with their problems. Unfortunately, some students feel suicidal with having mental health issue and shyness plays a part in it too. According to the Independent online newspaper in the UK, a survey by the National Union of Students in 2015 have found that 78 percent of students have experienced mental health issues, and this is leading to some students dropping out of higher education. Experts claim that hypnotherapy may also benefit students with mental health. In the end, shyness does not always mean a student has mental health issues, it is natural for them and the way they are. Dealing with it is the problem and there is always help and advice available for this issue.
Countries like UK, US, Egypt or Canada etc have diverse communities. Students all over the world are welcomed to study for a degree in them countries. One critical issue apart from being homesick, is the reality of encountering racism in the campus. It exists for foreign students and also for ethnic minority students who are already nationals of a country they are settled in. Being a victim of racism in college or university is almost like being bullied whether you are a teenager or adult in higher education. It affects the staff at campus as well. A lot of students have been expelled due to their racist behavior in the last few years, and many of these stories have been reported in the media.
A report by the National Union of Students in the UK found that 1 in 6 black students were confronted with racism at their educational institution. This finding was in 2011 when the NUS conducted a survey towards black students that lasted 2 years. From this report, nothing has changed and people believe racism will never be tackled at colleges and universities. Many ethnic minority students do not even report it to the staff because they have no faith in them.
According to a 2018 article by the Guardian online newspaper, they had few students from the University of Exeter who say they want urgent changes because of racist incidents happening at the campus. These students were very offended by the way they have been treated. They also said these incidents are happening all the time and they go unnoticed at the campus.
These incidents unfortunately are on the rise and racism is indeed a big challenge to face in higher education. Not only do students get racially abused, so do staff or lecturers from ethnic backgrounds also. It is widespread all over the world and it affects the students' ability to study. The fear of being racially abused drives them astray and sometimes students just want to abandon their education because of it. There is no easy solution to the problem apart from reporting to the main authorities which some victims are reluctant to do because of fear and lack of trust.
The symptoms are quite similar to being homesick but in a more personal way. It is as if they are mentally affected and cannot enjoy their time studying. Therefore, students who have been racially abused will never feel comfortable studying at their campus because they fear it will happen again the next day and so on. The good side of this is there are always friendly and understanding people who will support these victims and help them achieve their academic goals.
All students are different and have different intellects. The issue faced in doing assignments before the deadline can be quite challenging. Many students feel uncomfortable and stressed out when lecturers hand out information to do essays as part of their studies. Preparing for exams can build anxiety. Students are also unable to cope when certain rules are not met such as the use of plagiarism in their work for example. These days, modern technology can pick up assignments uploaded by students online to check if it has been plagiarized.
The new students learn this important rule by the lecturer and that is when they get pressured. In other words, students have to do their own research on a particular topic and make their own report without plagiarizing. They also learn that any reports have to be written with added references and other extras that are required. It is not that easy as many new students thought it to be. A newspaper report by The Independent in 2016 say that almost 50,000 students were caught cheating in UK universities in the past couple of years. This shocking discovery was investigated and revealed by The Times newspaper. Many of those students were believed to be foreign students especially outside Europe, and they were caught in coursework plagiarism.
This is where time management comes into play, and for those lazy students who leave everything at the last minute, will surely get low marks. Basically, as long as students waste time and are not serious in their studies, this issue will lead them to failure at the end of the academic year. However, adults in higher education will most likely suffer with their studies and to complete their assignments on time. They may have children to look after at home, or they have a job for example. This issue is very stressful for those who have these commitments, and may also lead them dropping out of higher education and end up paying for the tuition fee for achieving nothing.
Generally, students have to complete tasks that are important to get good marks and pass the exams. They are required to devote some time by doing research at the campus library, or visiting their local library to get helpful information for their assignments, or maybe doing research online using reputable websites. Their work on a topic has to be factual without anything made up and also need to back it up using references. In the end, completing assignments can be an issue only if students make it to be an issue. They are there for one main reason and that is to study, learn and get a qualification for future employment.
Education is after all the key to success in order to get a good job. Many obstacles along the way will be faced. There are several other issues students face in higher education such as having relationships or financial problems for example, but all these are part of student life. The experiences may be harsh or difficult, but it can be fought with strength, dignity and determination. The issues outlined above are the most common issues every student face in academic life and should not be a deterrent, it should rather be accepted and then finding methods of improving these issues by themselves. All students should have a pleasant experience during their studies and also when they finish their academic years.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.