Identifying At-Risk Students

At one time or another, everyone feels depressed or upset. However, there are three levels of student distress which, when present over a period of time, suggest that the problems are more than the ‘normal’ reactions to life stressors.

Level 1 Distress

Although not disruptive to others in the classroom or elsewhere, these behaviors in students may indicate that something is wrong, and that help may be needed:

  • Serious grade problems.
  • Unaccountable change from good to poor performance.
  • Change from frequent attendance to excessive absences.
  • Change in pattern of interaction.
  • Marked change in mood, motor activity, or speech.
  • Marked change in physical appearance.

Level 2 Disturbance

These behaviors in students may indicate significant emotional distress, or a reluctance or inability to acknowledge a need for personal help:

  • Repeated request for special consideration.
  • New or regularly occurring behavior which pushes the limits and may interfere with class management, or be disruptive to others.
  • Unusual or exaggerated emotional response.

Level 3 Dysregulation

These behaviors may show that the student is in crisis and needs emergency care:

  • Highly disruptive behavior (hostility, aggression, etc.).
  • Inability to communicate clearly (garbled, slurred speech, disjointed thoughts).
  • Loss of contact with reality (seeing/hearing things that are not there, beliefs or actions at odds with reality).
  • Overt suicidal thoughts (suicide is a current option).
  • Homicidal threats.
  • Individuals deficient in skills that regulate emotion, cognition, self, behavior, and relationships.

More Tips for Faculty In the Classroom

  • Create opportunities for connections in your classroom and work to engage the withdrawn, or socially isolated, student.
  • Phrase feedback positively whenever possible.
  • During critiques, emphasize the purpose, process, and benefit of them. Seek to normalize the experience by using examples, such as an invited upperclassman’s work.
  • Understand that some students lack basic life skills and are playing catch-up in many areas.
  • Identify the Student Success Coaches or the Student Success Center as a resource regarding self-care, stress management, test anxiety, depression, or other pertinent topics.

Outside the Classroom

  • Refer students to programs that will help them improve study skills and time management (Student Success Center, Help Center, Math Lab).
  • Encourage student involvement in events, campus clubs, or community activities.Contact the Student Activities Coordinator for a list of student organizations and campus activities.
  • Inform students with disabilities about the self-identification process to utilize accommodations. Contact the Disability Coordinator in the Help Center.
  • Engage with students at activities and on campus – they will feel valued!
  • Consult with the BIT as needed for feedback.  We are here to support the students and you!