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Leaves of Absence
Leaves of Absence and Withdrawals from Wellesley College
Student leaves of absence and withdrawals from Wellesley College are addressed primarily by the Dean of Students, along with the Dean of Students Advisory Committee (the “DAC”), except as otherwise described in this policy. The DAC includes the Dean of Students, the Associate Dean of Students, the Director of Residential Life, the Assistant Director of Residential Life, the Director of Advising and Academic Support Services, the Director of Health Services, the Director of Counseling Services, the Director of Disability Services, and the Chief of Campus Police, and/or their designees, depending on the circumstances. Wellesley allows or may require students to leave the college under various circumstances, as described in this policy. Students with questions about these matters should consult their Class Dean. It is the responsibility of the student to meet the requirements and deadlines set forth in the policy, and to satisfy any conditions pertaining to a leave of absence.
Voluntary Leaves of Absence
A student may request to take a voluntary leave of absence by using the online form. Any student who has completed one semester at Wellesley is eligible to request a voluntary leave of absence, a status that indicates the student intends to return to Wellesley after a designated period of time. Leave may be taken for as short a period as one semester and as long as two years. At the time a student requests a voluntary leave, the student must indicate the purpose of the leave and the semester of the student’s planned return, in order to allow for the planning required for registration and housing. Depending on the purpose of the leave, the student may be required to follow particular departure or return processes, as specified below. All requests for voluntary leaves of absence must be approved by the DAC and will be confirmed by the Class Dean.
Voluntary leaves for the purpose of studying away from Wellesley require the submission of detailed academic plans to the Director of International Studies and/or the Class Dean. More information about these requirements is available here. A student on leave for study elsewhere may apply to transfer up to four units of credit per semester, up to a total of no more than eight units of credit. More information about transfer credits is available here. Students leaving to study at least half-time in another institution in the United States may be eligible for federal based financial aid, and should review and follow the procedures detailed here.
Students should request such leaves by submitting the online form by November 1 for a spring semester leave and by March 1 for a fall semester leave. If additional time is needed to make a final decision about a leave, students should consult with the Class Dean.
Students requesting a leave of absence for medical reasons should indicate this on the online form, and must follow the clearance procedures outlined below, as may be modified based on the DAC’s review of the student’s individual circumstances.
A student may request a personal leave of absence after the beginning of the semester at any time during a semester. The timing of a leave can have consequences in terms of tuition refunds and whether the semester counts as one of a student's eight semesters, so students should consult with the Class Dean on this.
A first-year student desiring to declare a leave before the end of the first semester at Wellesley must consult with the Dean of First-Year Students. The student may be required to withdraw from the College and in that case, if the student later desires to return to the College, must apply for readmission through the Academic Review Board.
A student who plans to leave Wellesley permanently (typically to transfer to another institution) should withdraw from the College, rather than go on leave, using the online form. If, after withdrawing, a student wishes to re-matriculate at Wellesley, the student may apply for readmission through the Academic Review Board.
Mandatory Leaves of Absence and Withdrawals
Wellesley College may require a student to leave the College under various circumstances, as described below.
Medical Conditional Leaves:
The DAC, in consultation with health professionals as necessary, may require a student needing time away to address medical or mental health concerns to be placed on a leave of absence. In doing so, the DAC, in consultation with health professionals as necessary, will specify the conditions to be satisfied before the student may return to the College, including:
- A written statement from the student to the Director of Health Services and/or the Director of Counseling Services (as appropriate), sharing the student's understanding of the reasons for the leave of absence, explaining the student’s readiness to return to school at this time, and what accommodations, if any, the student anticipates needing upon returning to Wellesley.
- Written documentation from the student’s treating clinician, therapist and/or psychiatrist to the Director of Health Services and/or the Director of Counseling Services (as appropriate), which illustrates that the student has progressed to a point of readiness to return safely to the demands of Wellesley’s residential college environment. The documentation should include:
- The name, address, and/or other contact information of the treating clinician;
- A clinical diagnosis and/or other information needed to determine appropriate accommodations;
- The clinician’s professional opinion regarding the student’s readiness to return to the rigors of a student studying and residing at Wellesley College, as well as the rationale supporting that opinion, including information regarding any prescribed treatment plans which the clinician believes is necessary to follow in order to maintain and sustain the student’s readiness to return to and participate in college life;
- Suggested accommodations and/or support the clinician believes the student would need to return; and
- Any other pertinent information the student believes will assist the College in assessing the student’s readiness to return and meet the College’s academic and residential expectations.
For leaves for medical or psychological reasons, there are checklists outlining the steps to follow for a return, and forms for a student's clinicians to complete and return, available here.
The medical documentation should be sent by mail, although if necessary materials can be faxed. Also, a student must complete appropriate release forms (located here) pertaining to the student’s medical information to allow the Director of Health Services and/or the Director of Counseling Services (as appropriate) to consult with the members of the DAC and such other College officials as the College believes to be necessary for considering a student’s request to return and the support the College can provide for the student. The deadline for receiving all of the above information is May 15 for return in the fall semester and November 1 for return in the spring semester.
Students with questions about a medical leave should consult their Class Dean, Health Services, and/or Counseling Services.
Once having been cleared from a medical conditional leave, a student will ordinarily be required to satisfactorily complete a full semester at Wellesley before the student is allowed to be at the College for wintersession or summer school, or to participate in an approved study abroad program.
Financial Conditional Leaves:
The DAC, in consultation with Student Financial Services, may require a student who has not met a financial obligation to the College to be placed on leave. Return is contingent on meeting all outstanding financial obligations or agreeing with the College on a satisfactory payment plan, as certified by Student Financial Services.
Administrative Conditional Leaves, Dismissals, and Expulsions:
The Dean of Students or her designee may place a student on leave for behavior that violates College rules and regulations or the rights of others (including the responsibility to respond to appropriate requests and recommendations of the College’s administrative staff); or if the student’s continuing presence at the College constitutes a risk to the health, safety, or general well-being of the student or others in the College community. Such a leave may be for a stated period of time, or the Dean or her designee may place conditions on such a leave, and the student will not be permitted to return to the College until all such conditions are met to the satisfaction of the Dean. The Dean or her designee may also dismiss for an open-ended period of time (with the possibility of return at an unspecified future date) or expel (with no possibility of return) a student who has egregiously or repeatedly failed to maintain academic or behavioral standards. In all such cases, the Dean or her designee will provide the student with a written statement of the reasons for her determination and, if appropriate, the conditions which must be fulfilled for the student to return to the College. In all such cases, the student will be allowed to request that the DAC review the Dean’s decision and to provide information to the DAC in support of a request to be allowed to return to the College. A student may request reconsideration of the decision only if there is new information available that was not available at the time of the original decision.
Academic Conditional Leaves and Academic Withdrawals:
The Academic Review Board may require a student who is not of diploma grade standing to be placed on leave. In doing so, the Board will impose specific conditions to be satisfied before the student may return to the College, such as a specified time away from the College or evidence of satisfactory completion of academic work away from Wellesley. The Board may also require a student who is not of diploma grade standing and is not making satisfactory progress toward completing degree requirements to be withdrawn from the College, with the expectation that the student will not return to Wellesley. A student may request reconsideration of the decision only if there is new information available that was not available at the time of the original decision.
Honor Code Suspensions, Dismissals, and Expulsions:
A student found to be in violation of the Honor Code may be suspended for a given period of time, or dismissed for an open-ended period of time (with the possibility of return at an unspecified future date) or expelled (with no possibility of return), in accordance with the published procedures of the Honor Code Council. A student may appeal the decision in accordance with the published procedures of the Honor Code Council, available here.
General Provisions Related to All Leaves and Withdrawals:
- INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: International students in non-immigrant (F-1 or J-1) status who separate from the College lose their eligibility to remain in the United States in F-1 or J-1 status at Wellesley College. The student's record in the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) may be terminated. International students must consult with the International Student & Scholar Advisor BEFORE any action is taken to separate from the College. Please see information regarding immigration regulations for international students here or contact the International Student & Scholar Advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Refunds of portions of the comprehensive fee may be available, depending on the effective date of the leave, in accordance with the scale published annually by Student Financial Services and available here. After the eighth week of the semester, refunds are no longer available, and the semester counts as one of a student’s eight semesters in residence, despite the lack of completion of coursework.
- A student who goes on a leave of absence cannot remain in residence on campus more than 48 hours after the effective date of the leave.
- A student on a mandatory withdrawal, suspension, or dismissal may not be permitted to transfer credit to Wellesley for academic work done while away from Wellesley.
- A leave may be extended for no more than four consecutive semesters. If a student’s leave exceeds four semesters, the student will be withdrawn from the College.
- Students who are withdrawn or dismissed from the College may apply for readmission at some later date, and readmission will be considered in light of the reasons for withdrawal. Students seeking readmission after withdrawal or dismissal should contact the Director of Advising and Academic Support Services for guidance about the appropriate procedures. If the student was on any kind of conditional leave, the student must fulfill all the conditions of the original leave as part of the readmission process.
- A student placed on a leave of absence or required to leave the College will be notified in writing (typically by email) of this decision and of the reasons for it.
- Transcripts do not report any leaves of absence or withdrawals from the College. Transcripts do report suspensions, dismissals, and expulsions of all kinds. Students going on leave after a semester has begun but before the drop deadline for that semester will not have any notation of that semester's courses on their transcript; after the drop deadline, the courses will be noted as "withdrawn" on the transcript.
- The College’s policy is to notify custodial parents/legal guardians in the case of any leave, suspension, expulsion, or dismissal.
- A student planning to be enrolled at the College, whether continuing or returning from a leave or withdrawal, must be registered by the last day of the fall exam period for a return planned for the following spring semester or by July 1 for a return planned for the following fall semester. Active students not registered by those deadlines ordinarily will be placed on personal leaves for the coming semester.