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By: Hannah Tetzlaff

“It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the untimely passing of Jack Baldwin, a first-year Ripon College student from Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. This is a time of great sorrow for the entire Ripon College community. As we grieve together, please know there are a variety of services available to you.”

Ripon College President Zach Messitte shared the sad news with the Ripon College community in a campus-wide email Tuesday, Nov. 8.

While tragic and likely shocking for students on campus, Jack’s story is not unique. Over the course of a four-year journey at Ripon College, many students encounter situations that   can cause stress and anxiety. They may struggle with issues ranging from grades and finances to living conditions and health problems. The college, however, offers services for students to assist them through such situations.

Because students worry about how to fund their college education, they may find assistance at the Office of Financial Aid, which has resolved many financial cases.

Director of Financial Aid David Woodward noted when students walk in, they tend to be anxious about their financial situations.

“A lot of the students that come in are highly stressed and need help,” he said. “We help them. We offer budgeting services, loan counseling and [we] help graduates with funding for grad school. Some [soon-to-be graduates] come in saying, ‘Oh my God! How am I going to pay my loans back?’”

He added the office takes a hands-on approach and works with each student personally to help meet their needs and answer their questions.

“Most walk away at least knowing that there is someone to talk to and who will help them, ” Woodward said.

He noted there are some rare cases in which students don’t get the answer they want because Financial Aid does not have the power to do what the students ask of it. In these situations, Woodward hopes students seek out others to talk and relieve their frustrations.

Some financial aid is dependent upon how well students do academically, which is why undergraduates seek help from Student Support Services and McNair Scholar’s program.

Student Support Services focuses on improving student academic success through tutoring and guidance, and the McNair Scholar’s program prepares first generation- lower income and racially underrepresented students for graduate school.  

“We see many students throughout the year for a range of issues relative to their academic performance,” said Daniel Krhin, director of Student Support Services and McNair Scholars.  “These discussions often include family situations related to support or expectations, financial issues, thoughts about major direction, career and graduate school.”

According to Krhin, Student Support Services provides free financial literacy classes, resume writing workshops and assistance, tutoring services and, in partnership with the Financial Aid office,  help with college debt.

Krhin noted tutoring services academically benefit students and are free for those who participate in Student Support Services but cost $2.75 per hour for other students.

Some stressful problems do not stem from finances or academics but from medical concerns that students may not be able to talk about with others.

“If a student told me they had no one to talk/turn to:  I would tell them that everything in my office is totally confidential, and that if it is a medical concern I/we would work to provide the best medical care possible given whatever the circumstances may be,” Director of Health Services Kathy Welch said. “If there are other worries/concerns, I will refer students to the free services offered here through counseling.”

According to Assistant Director of Counseling Emily Johnson, Counseling Services is available and free to all Ripon College students. Two master’s-level therapists can provide individual counseling.

“[We can] help with a variety of issues or concerns including, depression, anxiety, relationship/roommate issues, grief, financial stress/concerns, family issues, drug/alcohol issues, transitions, academics and many more common concerns found in the college population,” Johnson said.

She added that when counselors are unavailable, students should seek out their RA staff and hall directors, for they are trained to help those in need of support.

Though students may struggle with many concerns and anxieties, the college provides trained professional that can give students the help they require.