Skip to main content

Together, we can Protect Purdue.

See our FAQs

Student Support Services A Starting Point for Students Facing Challenges

When students face new challenges, they often have trouble identifying a plan of action to overcome them – and on a campus as large as Purdue University, locating the proper resource to address the problem can be intimidating.  

Student Support Services, located in the Office of the Dean of Studentssecond floor, Helen B. Schleman Hall (formerly known as the Recitation Building), is a resource students can use to take their first step in addressing academic, financial and social challenges. Student Support Services partners with students to identify goals and create plans of action to address issues such as class absences, academic and financial challenges, safety and well-being.  

Student support specialists serve as the first point of contact for students, who can connect with specialists through appointments or drop-in visits. Student support specialists can offer direct support with certain issues such as absences, help students identify and connect with resources, help establish goals for the student or even act as a sounding board for students in need of someone to talk to.  During the spring 2022 semester, student support specialists had nearly 8,000 interactions with students through drop-ins and scheduled appointments. 

Students support specialists can serve as a resource and support to the student while they navigate their situation. 

“We can be that connection point for students in helping them get connected with resources they need to be successful,” says Britni Henze, student support specialist. “Sometimes, we just help students think through their situation, identify goals or find something they haven’t thought to do yet.” 

Another point of connection with students comes through Student of Concern reports. Faculty, staff, students or others who are concerned about a student’s behavior can report the concern through the Student of Concern reporting link. Student support specialists will then contact the student to offer support and an ongoing relationship if the student desires one. Oftentimes, these contacts are made in times of crises.  

“We do try to get as much rapport built with the students as we can, especially since we’re talking personal, private things,” says Brock Severson, a student support specialist who specializes in crisis management. “I think when you’re sharing about your mental health or struggling with another issue such as disordered eating or substance abuse, those are heavy, personal topics – and it helps to have that ongoing rapport and relationship.” 

"The sooner you tune into resources, the more likely it is that you will never need them in a dire way."

Though it may seem counterintuitive to some to seek help before one needs it, student support specialists recommend that students be proactive in seeking out resources in areas they think they may struggle before a situation has a chance to escalate.  

“The sooner you tune into resources, the more likely it is that you will never need them in a dire way,” says Tim Bertsch, student support specialist. “If something does come up, their ability to address it in already knowing and having a connection with you becomes increasingly easy.”

Bertsch also notes that seeking help can have an impact beyond solving a problem at an individual level. 

“A student may come to us to address their immediate, personal need, but part of the steps for a solution once they’ve stabilized their situation is to turn it into an issue that can make a positive impact for everybody,” Bertsch says. “They can take a student leadership role, speak to student leadership, organize their concerns, document processes, put together some proposals and present them to people in leadership. This might be the first time in their lives they’ve tried to enact change and, if they realize what those steps look like, they really have an opportunity to grow.”

This might be the first time in their lives they’ve tried to enact change and, if they realize what those steps look like, they really have an opportunity to grow.

The assistance provided by Student Support Services is consistent with the five pillars embodied by the Steps to Leaps initiative – leadership and professional development, impact, well-being, networks and grit. Though pillar resources aren’t explicitly referred to in their interactions with students, student support specialists see their work connecting with the pillars every day. 

“I hit these pillars in every conversation I have with students just because it’s so ingrained in what we do,” Severson says. “I think about the different things that we do and they’re all about trying to get students to the point where they can take care of themselves, build up that grit and well-being, and know the resources they need to use to be successful.”  

Students in need of assistance can are encouraged to call of the Office of the Dean of Students at 765-494-1747 or email to connect with a student support specialist and set up an appointment. The office also welcomes drop-ins from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. All services can also be accessed remotely.