ASU offers counseling, additional support services to online students.
December 3, 2019

Options range from clinical counseling to legal assistance to advice on elder care, all with the goal of helping students succeed

ASU Online students face many of the same stressors as those who attend classes at any of the Arizona locations, such as financial worries and anxiety. But because many are based far away, they also face problems that students on campus don’t, like having their education disrupted by wildfire evacuations or hurricane power outages.

Online Sun Devils now have access to a support system that helps them deal with issues that could derail their progress toward graduation. 360 Life Services offers clinical care, personal care and legal and financial assistance in the first such university program to be announced, according to Nancy Cervasio, executive director of student success at EdPlus, the unit that houses ASU Online. The program is in addition to the success coaches who work with students to meet academic goals. 

“We wanted more of a comprehensive support system for the online students,” she said. 

The program includes online webinars and other resources, and it offers referrals to in-person clinical counseling in the student’s home area. Services are accessed through students’ My ASU portal.

“It provides access to licensed professionals around the country for clinical counseling, and it’s a program they can access online or on the phone or face to face if they want to,” Cervasio said.

She said that in the past six months, 35,000 students engaged in the online supports, with the most popular topics being emotional health, life balance, working, thriving, parenting, aging and international study.

Clinical counseling was accessed by 125 students, a third of whom had face-to-face appointments in their communities, with the rest using telephone or video sessions.

“We’re starting to promote this more right now because there are stresses and triggers over the holidays in addition to finals and everything else,” Cervasio said.

“Campus students can go to the counseling center, but online students don’t have that luxury.”

The average age of ASU Online students is 29, Cervasio said.

“They have full-time jobs and many have families and many are single parents, and they present a little bit differently to the staff that helps them,” she said.

360 Life Services offers additional services, such as college fund planning, budgeting and buying a home, as well as webinars on topics including child care and elder care.

The support system is promoted when ASU Online contacts students who might be impacted by disasters. 

“We do encourage it when we reach out to students who might be potentially evacuating their homes or losing power,” Cervasio said. “We’ve seen wildfires, hurricanes, snowstorms, you name it.”

In those cases, faculty is notified that students might need to delay assignments.

“Very often, the power goes out and since they’re online, they don’t have internet,” she said. “We work with faculty so students can worry about their families and their situation rather than homework at that moment. And students are very appreciative that ASU thinks of them during those times.”

Students can access 360 Life Services themselves, or be referred by their success coach or professor. ASU Online has offered webinars to inform faculty about the program and has seen referrals increase since then, Cervasio said.

“When advisers or faculty see students with an issue, they can now feel confident that they have a resource to send the student to,” she said.

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now

480-727-4503