Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

Enhancing Development in 1st-Year College Student Success Courses: A Holistic Approach

Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

Enhancing Development in 1st-Year College Student Success Courses: A Holistic Approach

Article excerpt

The authors present a rationale for infusing a wellness model into the curriculum design of 1st-year college student success courses. The Wheel of Wellness model (J. E. Myers, T. J. Sweeney, & J. M. Witmer, 2000) is proposed as a framework for addressing student needs in a holistic manner.


The diversity of today's college student population has caused administrators, faculty, counselors, and other college personnel to question whether traditional practices are adequate to meet both the academic and personal needs of students. The "typical" college student of the past was 18-22 years old, lived on campus, attended college full time, and enrolled in college directly from high school; however, fewer than 17% of college students currently meet these criteria (Levine & Cureton, 1998). The term nontraditional student has been used frequently to describe the large and growing group of individuals who make up the other 83% of the college student population (Kerka, 1995).

Researchers have attempted to define the nontraditional student in various ways. Hruby (1995) described nontraditional students as either those over 25 years of age, students who have interrupted college for more than I academic year, students who may require special services to attain the degree, or any combination of these factors. According to Cross (1980), nontraditional students are adults who return to school part-time or full-time while simultaneously managing other responsibilities, such as career or family. Dill and Henley (1998) described a nontraditional student as one who has multiple roles and one for whom at least I year has elapsed between high school and college. Using this definition, it is clear that the term nontraditional student could be used to describe the majority of students who are enrolled in colleges and universities. In this article, we focus on the emerging need for innovative campus counseling services and practices that meet the diverse demands of all students, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. After presenting a review of literature on the unique concerns of today's college students and how counselors may best address these issues, we discuss a study of the first author's curriculum infusion model for a 1st-year college student success course. We propose that by incorporating a wellness model into the design of student success courses, counselors have an effective way to address the needs of students.


It is important for counselors to recognize that students have specific concerns that must be addressed if they are to persist in the college environment (Ryder, Bowman, & Newman, 1994). Research has shown that many students come to college requiring academic remediation, and faculty complaints about student underpreparedness are on the rise (Levine & Cureton, 1998). Many returning students have had negative experiences in academic settings and may lack confidence in their ability to assimilate to the university classroom. Students who have experienced academic success In the past may also need academic skill development, particularly if they have Interrupted their studies for a period of years (Hruby, 1995).

Another pressing concern for students is financial management. Many students are concerned about the lack of the financial resources needed to achieve their academic goals (Levine & Cureton, 1998). Using a single institution survey design (N = 100), Ryder et al. (1994) found that financial concerns and academic advising were the two areas older students reported as the greatest hindrances to completion of their degree. Benshoff and Lewis (1992) also reported that finances and family concerns were two factors that had the largest impact on the nontraditional student's experience.

Nontraditional students often encounter opposition to the completion of academic goals from significant others who may feel threatened by their successes (Kerka, 1995). …

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