Students may think of leaving the U for a number of reasons. Maybe they can’t afford their tuition, or they haven’t found the community they were hoping for when they enrolled. Regardless of what may be preventing them from completing their degree, the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) hopes to help.
“Our goal is to keep the students here and help them graduate, or if they are going to leave, to help them leave in a way that makes it easier for them to come back and finish their education,” said Kirstin Maanum, women’s education specialist at the Women’s Resource Center.
The WRC uses a “thinking of leaving” form on their homepage to encourage these students to reach out before they decide not to return to school. The emails go directly to Maanum, whose goal is to always contact each student within 24 hours.
“It’s a great resource for students to reach out to us in a way that feels safe and comfortable to them,” said Maanum. “About 95% of the time that I reach out to a student who has filled out the form, they come in and we’re able to talk.”
Maanum said she has been able to help several students find ways to stay enrolled at the U, enjoy their experience and earn their degrees. Last year she met with nearly 70 students who were thinking of leaving. Most of them either filled out the WRC’s form or were referred to the WRC by other offices.
“I’ve heard from students that it was helpful to talk through some of the things they were dealing with and to validate their experience and then receive practical suggestions of how to address the concerns they’re having,” said Maanum. “I think hearing directly from students and finding out exactly what they want and need gives us the opportunity to serve as mediators or advocates for them.”
Maanum continued, “Probably 80% of the students that fill out the form are thinking about leaving due to finances. We’re often able to work directly with departments and offices that can help with funding or planning for the future such as the Financial Wellness Center (formerly known as the Personal Money Management Center).”
For students who don’t feel like filling out a form, Maanum said everyone is welcome to stop by the WRC any time and let a staff member know they are thinking of leaving. The office has therapists and practicum students who offer 15-minute initial consults that can result in helpful referrals depending on a student’s concerns.
“If a student is struggling in any way or if staff and faculty notice a student who may need additional support, the WRC is a great place to start,” said Maanum. “We may not offer the right services for them, but we have relationships with offices across campus and we can make sure they find the best resource.”
The “thinking of leaving” form asks for the student’s name and contact information. Maanum said it’s important to note that not all of the WRC staff are confidential communicators, so anyone seeking confidential reporting should go through advocate.wellness.utah.edu.