How to Help a Student

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How to Help a Friend

If you have a friend or fellow student about whom you are concerned, here are some suggestions on how to approach him or her.

  • Speak with your friend in a private location, when neither of you will be rushed.
  • Be straightforward and non-judgmental. In a supportive and kind manner, be specific about what you've observed and what you are concerned about. Ask if he/she would like to talk about it.
  • Listen carefully; quiet your mind so you can fully focus on what he/she is sharing with you. Summarize what you have heard to be sure you are hearing what was said.
  • Refer your friend to the Counseling Center for additional assistance. If your friend is having a significant problem, chances are it is more than you are prepared to handle.  Jessica Gilpert, Director of Counseling, can be reached at ext. 3502 or via e-mail at You may also feel free to stop by the Bruder Center to set up an appointment.  
  • If he/she is reluctant to seek help, offer to accompany your friend to the Bruder Center.
  • Recognize your limitations; you do not have the power to make your friend change or to control how your friend responds.

You do have the ability to be honest, genuine and supportive. You have the option of getting support for yourself, acknowledging your own needs and setting healthy boundaries. 


For Parents/Guardians

The Counseling Center at Immaculata University is available to consult with family members who have concerns about their student. Consultations may focus on how to assist a student experiencing a challenging time/situation, how best to refer a student to the Counseling Center or how to locate local resources.

Please note that the Counseling Center staff adheres to professional ethical standards as well as state and federal laws relating to confidentiality. These standards prevent us from speaking with parents about their student's contact with the Counseling Center unless we have the student's written consent. An exception is if a student is in imminent danger.

How can I help my student?

  • Communicate regularly with your student. Even though she is becoming more independent, she needs to know that you are available for support. Be available for discussions of everyday events as well as more challenging issues.
  • Allow your student to structure the conversation. There is a greater chance that he will open up if he does not feel like he is being grilled for information.
  • Clarify financial decisions/responsibilities early on. Be specific about who will be paying for what to avoid misunderstandings. 
  • Be realistic about academic performance. Adjusting to college life is challenging and may be reflected in grades. Refer your student to campus resources as needed. Focus on her development, not just grades, provided that basic academic requirements set by the University are being met.
  • Remind your student of resources if he is experiencing difficulties (academic, emotional, social, career, health). We are available to help students problem-solve and meet their goals.
  • Take care of yourself. Students often worry about their parents/guardians/siblings; this can impact their college experience. Use supportive resources that will help you manage your feelings (e.g., your student going to college). Find healthy outlets for yourself!

For assistance, please contact Jessica Gilpert, Director of Counseling, at 484-323-3502 or

Resources especially helpful for parents or guardians:

  • Don't Tell Me What To Do: Just Send Money by Helen Johnson and Christine Schelhas-Miller (2000).
  • When Your Kid Goes To College: A Parent's Survival Guide by Carol Barkin (1999).
  • A New Beginning: A Survival Guide for Parents of College Freshman by Kaye Bernard McGarry (2001).
  • You're On Your Own (But I'm Here If You Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years by Marjorie Savage (2003).
  • Empty Nest...Full Heart: The Journey from Home to College by Andrea Van Steenhouse (1998).
  • How to Survive and Thrive in an Empty Nest: Reclaiming Your Life When Your Children Have Grown by Jeanette Lauer (1999).
  • Letting Go: A Parent's Guide to Understanding the College Years by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger (2003).


For Faculty/Staff

Consider referring a student to the Counseling Center if:

  • A student expresses concerns over a personal issue (i.e. relationships, addiction, family difficulties) and you believe the student could benefit from our services
  • A student seems excessively anxious, depressed, irritable, withdrawn, angry or sad
  • You notice significant changes in a student’s appearance or habits (i.e. deterioration in grooming, hygiene, weight loss, change in activity or speech patterns, or changes in academic performance)

If you are concerned about a student:

  • You MAY want to meet with him/her privately to discuss your concerns.
  • Feel free to contact the counseling staff to strategize about your specific conversation.
  • Refer the student to the Counseling Center. Have your student call Jessica Gilpert, Director of Counseling, at ext. 3502 or stop by the Bruder Center to set up an appointment. You may want to offer the student the option of calling from your office.
  • Assure the student of confidentiality. As required by law and professional standards, all communication between the counselor and the student is confidential unless a student grants written permission to release information or if the student is in imminent danger. 
  • If the student signs a consent form granting us permission to let you know that they have met with Counseling staff, we will contact you.
  • We are available to consult with you at any time about concerns you may have. Even without a consent form, we can assist you in working with your students. 

1145 King Road, Immaculata, PA. 19345
p. 610-647-4400 or call toll-free: 1-877-42 TODAY
Federal Compliance Links | Clery | Employment
Copyright © All Rights Reserved

1145 King Road, Immaculata, PA. 19345 p. 610-647-4400 or call toll-free: 1-877-42 TODAY
Federal Compliance Links | Clery | Employment
Immaculata University | Copyright © All Rights Reserved