Concerns about Students

All of the undergraduate schools have a team of administrators who are here to support our students in their academic and personal growth during their undergraduate studies, and to support our faculty as they teach and advise undergraduate students.

Instructors are encouraged to become familiar with the advising systems of the undergraduate schools so that they can be ready to work with these professional advisers to address promptly any concerns about students that may arise during the course of a semester.

Additionally, instructors will receive messages from the undergraduate schools each semester, soliciting notices of concerns that instructors may have about a student's well-being and/or a student's academic performance, and we are extremely grateful when instructors take a few moments to submit these notices to advisers and administrators so that we can provide whatever assistance is possible.

Advising Deans

Every undergraduate student has a professional adviser who provides general advice and guidance when students are navigating the schools and the University, who connects or directs students to relevant faculty and administrators when students have more specific questions and pursuits, and who coordinates assistance when students are encountering challenges or crises. 

  • Columbia College and Columbia Engineering: Every student is assigned to an advising dean in the Berick Center for Student Advising, and students typically stay with the same advising dean for all four years. 
  • General Studies: Every student is assigned to an advising dean in the Dean of Students office
  • Barnard College: Every student is assigned to an individual academic adviser, who may be a faculty member or an administrator, and every student receives general advice and support from their Class Dean

Instructors may be contacted by a student's advising dean if a student is facing extenuating circumstances that will affect the student's attendance and/or performance in class, and the advising dean will be ready to consult with the instructor to determine whether and how the student might temporarily accommodated. 

Instructors are also encouraged to contact an advising dean with any questions or concerns about a particular student. For Columbia College, General Studies, and Columbia Engineering students, instructors can find the student's assigned advising dean is their Courseworks sites, in the "Photo Roster" section under the "List/Advisor" tab. For Barnard College students, instructors can contact the relevant Class Dean (depending on the class year of the student).

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.* 

  • For Columbia College, General Studies, and Columbia Engineering students, instructors can find the student's assigned advising dean is their Courseworks sites, in the "Photo Roster" section under the "List/Advisor" tab. For Barnard College students, instructors can contact the relevant Class Dean (depending on the class year of the student).
  • 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.

*From the University's Faculty Handbook published by the Provost Office:
During the course of the term, faculty should notify the academic advisors of those students who are at risk of failing their courses.

Academic support for students

Instructors may find it helpful to know about some of the academic support programs that are available to students, and are encouraged to direct students to these resources and, if appropriate, to note the resources on their syllabi and/or Courseworks sites:

The Writing CenterThe Writing Center provides writing support to all undergraduate students through one-on-one consultations and workshops. Writing consultants offer feedback and strategies to help students improve at every stage of writing, from brainstorming to final drafts.

Department Help Rooms and Tutoring: Several academic departments provide academic support specific to the courses that they offer, whether in the form of Help Rooms (i.e., group office hours led by TAs) or private tutors.

For Columbia College and Columbia Engineering undergraduates: The Center for Student Advising offers free peer tutoring for all Columbia College and Columbia Engineering undergraduate students in certain courses (i.e., certain introductory courses in biology, calculus, chemistry, computer science, economics, and physics). The CSA also offers offers programs for students who would like to strengthen their general skills in study strategies, time management, note-taking, etc., such as Peer Academic Skills Consultants"Getting Things Done" workshops, assistance in finding study groups and study space, and a variety of "how to..." workshops on various aspects of student academic life.

For General Studies undergraduates: The GS Academic Resource Center (ARC) is dedicated to supporting the diverse nontraditional student body at GS in achieving academic excellence. Their programs range from those providing academic support for particular coursework -- through traditional peer tutoring, tutor-led study groups, reading & argument coaching -- and general support in navigating life as a student in Columbia courses -- through the Jumpstart Series, University Studies, peer advising, Getting Things Done groups, and study halls.

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."

Health and wellness support for students

Instructors may find it helpful to know about some of the health and wellness support offices and programs that are available to students, and are encouraged to direct students to these resources and, if appropriate, to note the resources on their syllabi and/or Courseworks sites:

Columbia CollegeGeneral Studies, and Columbia Engineering:  All CC, GS, and SEAS students are introduced to the network of health and wellness programs through the "Live Well | Learn Well" initiative, which aims to create a campus culture that values and promotes individual well-being and a healthy community for undergraduates at Columbia University. The website serves as a hub for all of offices in the schools and in the central University concerned with undergraduate well-being at Columbia, not only providing links to relevant offices (such as Counseling and Psychological Services, Financial Aid, Health Services, to name just a few) but also by providing search options for categories of questions of concerns, which can help students to identify the particular office that might be most helpful in a certain situation.

Barnard College: All Barnard students are introduced to Barnard's network of health and wellness programs through the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation Center for Well-Being. As with the Live Well | Learn Well site for Columbia undergraduates, Barnard students can use this site to identify and to connect to offices and programs throughout Barnard College that can support them with particular questions and concerns.

Columbia Health: Columbia Health provides health and wellness services for all students in the 17 schools of Columbia University, and their mission is to advance the well-being of the Columbia University community and the personal and academic development of students. The Columbia Health organization includes the following offices: