The time spent at college should represent some of the best years of a student’s life, but according to research from Barnes & Noble College InsightsSM, it seems today’s college students are not without their concerns. “We’ve learned that they want to know what their college experience is going to be like. How are they going to fit in on campus? Are they going to make friends? Are they going to be fulfilled — not just in school, but later in life?” says Lisa Malat, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Barnes & Noble College. “They also are very concerned about feeling a connection and succeeding socially at their college,” she adds.
In recent years, Barnes & Noble College has offered a series of outreach and engagement programs like VIP shopping events, where new students can learn about their textbook options and De-Stress events, where students can engage in a number of activities from coloring to playing with puppies, all designed to help lessen the stress of finals or end-of-term blues. To help build that sense of social success in and out of the classroom, Barnes & Noble College campus stores kicked off a new approach to help students succeed, last month — by connecting them to some key resources to support them on campus.
In her role as bookstore manager, Tori Sage has noticed that her students at Texas Tech University could benefit from using more of the school’s support resources. “The trend seems to be that students are taking on heavier course loads to finish faster — and many of them are also working on top of that,” she points out. “I’ve noticed that in some of my own student booksellers here at the store.” As the only university within an eight-hour radius, the Lubbock-based campus attracts students from smaller, rural communities, leaving them farther away from their support systems and experiencing difficulty acclimating to an academic environment.
As a way to support those students, the Texas Tech Bookstore became the first of nearly 50 campus bookstores to host a Wellness Refresh event in an attempt to provide some much needed stress relief and offer advice on how students can handle their health and wellness and overall connection to the University. “These kinds of events are just the latest programs in our overall mission to act as a total support system for our students,” explains Erin Lenihan, Consumer Marketing Project Manager for Barnes & Noble College, “and they’re designed as an opportunity to focus not only on physical health, but also emotional — and even financial well-being — by helping to bring together all the available resources that can help on campus,” she adds.
The Texas Tech Bookstore displays items promoting wellness, including healthy snacks, fitbits, yoga mats, fitness books and more.
Hosted during the University’s Winter Welcome Week, Sage partnered with Texas Tech’s Department of Recreational Sports to provide her event access to the school’s swimming pool and basketball courts as well a wide variety of wellness tools from blood pressure screening to nutritional consultations. With a growing Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) program, the open nature of the campus offers another opportunity for student health. “Our university is spread out over a large area, so many students bike between campuses,” Sage explains. “Our Wellness Refresh event collaborated with the Rec Center to help promote their new bike rental program.” The Rec Center also provided free samples and information about the facilities they provide for student wellness while the bookstore contributed a healthy selection of samples from the café, including smoothies and gluten-free cookies.
As these Wellness Refresh events rollout across the country, Barnes & Noble College’s bookstore teams are partnering with student support services such as the campus Health Center, to provide students with information about flu shots, healthy food choices available in the dining hall and opportunities to engage with campus Recreation Centers with yoga classes or workout demonstrations in the bookstores. “We also see the Wellness Refresh events as opportunities for behavioral health counselors to meet with students on a one-on-one basis, develop peer mentorship programs and demonstrate reliance on strategies like guided meditation when stress becomes overwhelming,” Lenihan says.
Given the pressures of tuition costs, school work and final exams, stress might be unavoidable for students. But Texas Tech Bookstore manager Sage hopes to build even stronger ties to resources such as the campus bank and other support organizations that she can help connect to her students. “We also cater to a large population of non-traditional students and in addition to their studies, some of our students also have families they’re trying to support ─ they’re going to school, they’re going to work and some are raising kids at the same time,” explains Sage. “They really are trying to doing it all — and a little support can go a long way.”