Leave of Absence

Occasionally, students may choose to take a break from school to tend to other aspects of life. Voluntary and Medical Leaves of Absence are options for students who plan to come back to their studies after taking some time away. 

I’m thinking of taking a leave, what should I do?

There are a few different leave types that may determine how much time away you are able to take and require different kinds of documentation to return. Talk to your advisor about your options and what works best for your circumstances. Once you decide on a leave, your advisor will walk you through the process of departing from campus, things to know while you’re away, and how to begin the process to return to campus.

What should I do during my leave?

Every leave is unique and what students do with their time away is deeply personal. While some students work part-time jobs or do research in their area of interest, others take it as an opportunity to rest, see friends and family, reconnect or rediscover creative parts of themselves, spend time in nature, and partner with professionals to work on their mental and physical health.

Returning from your Leave of Absence 

Returning from a Leave of Absence is a big step and may come with its own set of challenges. Some of the biggest struggles students face during their first semester back include:

  • Feeling like they have to explain their leave in detail to their peers

  • Feeling disconnected to old friend groups and classmates

  • A sense of loss over their original graduation date

  • Anxiety over resuming school work after time away

To support this transition back, we have a Leave of Absence Wellness Group that is open to any student returning from leave. This group’s purpose is to be an environment of support where those with shared experiences can discuss their struggles, as well as find celebration through the triumphs of being back on campus. This group meets weekly during the fall and spring semesters. Each session revolves around a theme that addresses a wellness topic.

Some topics we have discussed in previous meetings include:

And more! Each semester, the Wellness Group collects student feedback and adjusts its topics according to need.

For more information about how to join the Leave of Absence Group, please reach out to Krystal Diaz at ckd2126@columbia.edu


Student and Family Support


Alfred Lerner Hall, 6th Floor

Call: 212-854-2446