Today’s college students face a unique set of challenges, and over the past decade college enrollment has significantly outpaced counseling capacity. The combination of increased academic pressure, ballooning student loan debts and the pressure to be “fine” have resulted in 50 percent of college students reporting stress levels to a point of not being able to function. According to statistics released by the American Association of Suicidology in 2015, suicide is the second leading cause for death amongst college-aged students.
Universities across the country are searching for solutions.
YOU is an online student success portal connecting students to on-campus and online resources using personalization and best practices to help students lead a productive, well-balanced college life. YOU provides a digital solution that is equally interwoven into the campus experience by focusing on serving students rather than just student problems.
The first tool of its kind on college campuses, YOU emphasizes individual well-being and self-awareness in order to connect students to information, campus resources, peers and opportunities. From academics, to social life, to mental and physical health, YOU is an innovative, elegant tool that acts as a comprehensive resource hub for the whole of student life—and it’s accessible whenever and wherever they need it, on the laptops, tablets and smartphones kept in their pockets, backpacks and bedrooms.
The portal includes more than 600 pieces of content, roughly 25 percent of which are resources specific to their own campus. YOU does not replace campus-based resources; it leverages, complements and supports them by functioning as a cohesive way-finder for students to access comprehensive services that are already in place on campus.
YOU utilizes an upstream approach (i.e., prevention and early intervention) that considers the whole student. While there are some digital tools for campuses, they generally have a narrow focus (e.g., career center programs, treatment programs for a particular issue such as anxiety). What brings the highest quality experience to the YOU user is that the portal intertwines these resources and helps identify which are the most appropriate fit for the student, depending on the results of their “reality check” assessments.
The YOU portal is designed to provide valuable, relevant resources for every student, no matter what their current state of being. Whether a student is homesick, struggling academically, not finding their way socially, dealing with an addiction, stressed about post-college life, etc., YOU is equipped with the resources to help—and they’re all available 24/7/365.
The cost of YOU for students is free. For universities, YOU is an investment in student health, happiness, and success. The pricing structure for institutions to bring YOU to campus is determined by campus enrollment.
Students face a variety of issues throughout their college experience, and, as with every aspect of a student’s life, their challenges do not exist in a vacuum. We know that mental health, although important, is simply not attractive to the college population. Few students see their mental health as a problem. It’s just not something they pay attention to.
Therefore, the most creative element of the YOU portal is that it was not designed to be a behavioral health tool but rather, it was created to foster overall student success. The YOU portal helps students address the new challenges of college life before major damage is done. Something as simple as meeting the right mentor, getting involved in a campus organization or discovering a new passion can help provide a sense of direction that puts students on the path to success.
YOU emphasizes individual well-being and self-awareness in order to connect students to information, campus resources, peers and opportunities. From academics and social life, to mental and physical health, YOU is a new kind of solution, focused on skill-building for overall wellness rather than specific deficiencies.
Depending on the need, the want, or the will, students can connect with hundreds of pieces of content within each section of YOU. Students can also use the system-wide search function to locate the help they need at the moment they need it. This 360-degree digital tool is optimized for both desktop and mobile viewing. That means it’s available to students 24/7 with privacy and anonymity not normally associated with seeking help. YOU engages students on their terms and works by connecting with the whole student. It is this type of interconnectivity that the field of behavioral health must strive to achieve.
College campuses are incubators of growth, change and innovation. For that reason, it’s imperative that the YOU portal mirrors these aspects through recurring technology enhancement and content management. The content on YOU is influenced in part by the evolving needs of students, which in turn drives the creation and addition of new topics, tips and facts, assessments, and deeper skill-building tools. The other crucial influencer of content on YOU resides with each individual college and university that licenses the YOU portal. For example, as an institution makes enhancements to the architecture of its student services, organizations and overall student experience, updates to these campus resources will be reflected in the YOU portal for that campus.
In addition to serving as an upstream college wellness portal, YOU provides a platform for universities to learn about the issues facing their student body like never before. Increased student wellness benefits not only individual students, but the campus culture as a whole.
YOU is made to match partner campuses by integrating campus brand standards and logos, and inclusive of resources identified by campus leadership. All things academic, community-based and career-related are added in an ongoing effort to highlight the spirit of your campus.
The YOU licensing agreement includes the fully functional and customized YOU website, turnkey marketing and a promotional package to spread the word on campus throughout the year.
After 18 months of development, we launched a pilot to study the YOU program on the Colorado State University (CSU) campus. The pilot provided approximately 1,500 select CSU students with access to the YOU portal for approximately eight weeks during the Fall 2015 semester. Results include:
- More than half of the students accessed the YOU portal and 69 percent registered for an account
- An overwhelming 91 percent of students reported overall satisfaction with the YOU portal
- More than a third of students reported they did something new or checked out a campus resource based on the results of their “Reality Check”
- Average 65 percent rating of usefulness among students
- A majority of students felt the YOU portal was engaging and easy to understand