Concerns about Students


Concerns about Student Well-Being

Instructors may be the first people who recognize that a student is experiencing difficulties that go beyond the normal stress of being a student at a challenging undergraduate school.

If students miss multiple classes, miss multiple assignments, behave in ways that seem out of character, and/or say or write to you ideas or sentiments that cause alarm, that may be a sign of a student experiencing mental and emotional distress who needs our help.

We in the schools would be enormously grateful for your help in identifying those students and consulting with us so that we can provide the student with the best support we can provide.

One way to convey serious concerns about a student’s well-being is to submit the electronic General Concern Report form on the University Life website.

  • Your report will be distributed to a team of staff members in the student’s school who can respond most quickly to reports of student distress.
  • A staff member will contact you if/as needed, and please do not hesitate to contact the student’s adviser or other University resource offices as well. 
  • The form is available throughout the semester, so feel free to bookmark it and submit a report as needed.

Please note the following:

  • If you believe a student is in immediate danger of self-harm, please call 911 and Public Safety at 212.854.5555.
  • The University has provided resources to faculty and staff in The Blue Folder to help them "identify, address, and refer students appropriately."
    • In The Blue Folder, you will find guidance on recognizing signs of students in distress, advice for responding to those concerns, and information about referring students to the people and office who can be most helpful to them. 
    • Materials in the The Blue Folder can be downloaded as a .pdf document, if you would like to have a printable copy of it.
  • In addition to the resources noted on The Blue Folder website linked above, you can find contact information for all of the offices of support for Columbia undergraduates at the Live Well | Learn Well website (for example, information on how students can make an appointment with Counseling and Psychological Services).

From the Faculty Handbook published by the Provost Office:

Students in Need of Psychological Counseling

       When faculty encounter students who appear in need of psychological counseling, they should contact the appropriate dean of students and Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) for advice and assistance. They should not try to help the students on their own. Professional counselors in the CPS can advise faculty on how to respond to students in crisis or obvious distress and how to refer them to their office for counseling. Faculty can also ask the counselors for confidential consultations about difficult situations relating to students. However, members of the CPS staff cannot share privileged and confidential information about students using their clinical services.

       In addition to providing help with individual students, CPS offers staff training on specific mental health topics and is available to meet with faculty and deans to discuss mental health questions, such as early warning signs of psychiatric illness, bipolar disorder, and disruptive students. For more information on the office and its services, faculty should consult Counseling and Psychological Services.

Concerns about Student Academic Progress

Instructors and Teaching Assistants will be the first people to notice that a student's academic performance in a particular class is unsatisfactory -- i.e., unsatisfactory grades, poor or inconsistent work, poor or erratic attendance, inattentiveness, etc.

We ask that instructors and TAs submit notices of concern early and often to students' advisers, so that we can provide helpful interventions whenever possible. 

  • A student's assigned advising dean is usually noted in Courseworks, in the "Photo Roster" section under the "List/Advisor" tab.
  • Academic difficulties may sometimes be a reflection of a broader set of concerns for a student. If you are unsure whether your concerns about a student in your class may rise to the level of concern about the students overall well-being -- especially if the academic difficulties are accompanied by changes in behavior, attitude, or appearance-- please don't hesitate to consult the student's advising dean.
  • You may also feel free to contact any of the school administrators noted on this page and/or to submit a General Concern Report (see Concerns about Student Well-Being above).

Academic Difficulty

If you have general concerns about a student’s academic performance:

To convey a general concern about a student’s academic performance, fill out the electronic Academic Difficulty Report form available here.

  • Your report will be sent directly to the student's advising dean, and you will receive an automated reply confirming receipt of the report.
  • The advising dean will contact you if/as needed, and please do not hesitate to contact the adviser directly should you have additional concerns or questions.
  • Please note that the form must be reset and opened early in each semester, and faculty will be notified when the form can be accessed. Once it is available, it is then open and available throughout the semester, so feel free to bookmark it and submit a report as needed during that semester.

Please note:

  • Since this system is designed to serve the four undergraduate schools of Columbia, the system will show only the undergraduate students currently enrolled in your classes.
    • If you have concerns about students in other schools, please report those concerns directly to the relevant school or department.
    • If you are teaching multiple courses that enroll undergraduates, you will find a drop-down menu at the top of the page that allows you to choose each of your classes.
  • This form is accessible to all instructors of record noted in the Columbia Directory of Courses. Teaching Assistants will not have access to this form, but we would appreciate it if they would communicate concerns about undergraduate students directly to the students' advisers.
  • For faculty who have Barnard students in their classes, the preferred reporting form would be Barnard’s Early Academic Report. Due to different advising structures and online systems at Barnard, Barnard advising deans will receive information sent through this form more quickly.

Academic Review

At the end of each term, the Committee on Academic Standing reviews the records of all students enrolled in the College.

The process begins with the advising deans in the Berick Center for Student Advising, who receive a list of all of their advisees with information on each student's courses, grades, current GPA, cumulative GPA, current points, and cumulative points. Records are reviewed for unsatisfactory grades, unapproved incompletes, and insufficient degree progress (according to the academic policies and regulations articulated in the College's Bulletin).

Based on this review, which also takes into account a student's circumstances, students who are not in good academic standing may be placed on academic probation or academic suspension, or (if a student continually is unable to maintain good academic standing) may be required to withdraw from the College.