Academic, Career and Personal Needs of Nigerian University Students

Article excerpt

The academic, career and personal needs of students of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma-Nigeria were surveyed. A total of 920 undergraduates participated in this study. The results of the study revealed that irrespective of students' residential status, gender, age and relationship status, the students ranked time-management as the most pressing counseling need. This was followed in this order: drug concerns, family problems, career needs, relationship problems, finance, sexual harassment, academic ability, personality types, anxiety/depression, differential treatment and serf-evaluation. The results further indicated among others that female students were more in need of financial counseling than their male counterparts. Single students had more assertive/communication needs than their married colleagues. In addition, the study also revealed that students residing on the campus had more counseling needs on how to foster and sustain a stable relationship than those not residing on the campus. In view of these, counseling interventions for implementation that are geared towards helping students meet with their needs were further provided.

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Over the years, the importance of periodically assessing the identifiable needs of students before undertaking, designing and delivering effective counseling services and programs is well established (Bishop, Bauer & Becker, 1998; Gallagher, 1992; Morrill, Oetting, & Hurst, 1974, as cited in Gallagher, Golin & Kelleher, 1992). Despite the availability of counseling centers in few universities in Nigeria, majority of their students do not avail themselves of the services of these counseling centers. Even where the counseling centers exist, most of these centers provide services for students without even attempting to assess the needs of the students targeted for these services (Aluede, Uadia, Aluede & Igbineweka, 2002; Tawari, 1986).

The needs of university students vary from academic, social to psychological. These needs are dynamic in nature; as they may shift with changes in age, experience, socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity and social trends (Papalia, Olds, & Feldman, 1998). Hence, the need for an accurate and a regular assessment of college student needs (Gallagher, Golin, & Kelleher, 1992). An accurate and perpetual assessment of these changing needs is crucial to the development of effective student service programs. Therefore, needs assessment is particularly important in the light of the increasing diversity of students, their changing personal and career needs, and the heightened accountability demands that confront student services (Friedlander, 1978, cited in Barrow, Cox, Sepich & Spivak, 1989).

Gallagher, Christofidis, Gill, and Graham-Weaver (1996) and Roark, (1993) found that there is an increase in the severity of student concerns. Research has also identified an increase in the unique needs of students in the following areas: drug abuse, alcohol use, eating, weight problems, sexual assault and harassment, violence and AIDS (Bertocci, Hirsch, Sommer, & Williams, 1992). Although, questions about the efficacy of needs assessment studies in predicting the actual use of counseling centers by students has been raised, Gallagher et al., (1992) found that these studies continue to be the most efficient way of identifying student concerns. Therefore, the needs of the students have to be identified prior to designing or modifying counseling data from different sources, including students, faculty and administrators. Moreover, counseling center data are very important in identifying the actual services provided by the staff, problem areas, and differences between actual and stated priorities (Bishop, 1991).

Areas students seek help include: overcoming their procrastination; public speaking anxiety; improvement in their study skills; career uncertainty; self-confidence problems; lack of motivation; fear of failure; depression; lack of purpose in life; anxiety and nervousness (Gallagher, 1992). …