Temporary withdrawals from the College can take several forms. Students may choose to take a temporary leave for personal or medical reasons. In other cases, students may be required to withdraw temporarily due to a failure to maintain minimum academic standards, a medical issue that precludes the ability to safely and successfully participate in the educational program, or a disciplinary issue that warrants separation from the College. As a general matter, parents are notified about student leaves of all kinds.
Students may take 2 leaves during their course of study at Williams (this includes personal leaves, medical leaves, or leaves required by the Committee on Academic Standing, but not disciplinary suspensions; for more information on disciplinary processes, click here). A third leave will ordinarily be considered permanent. Students may petition for permission to return after a third or subsequent leave; such petitions will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and will only be granted in cases in which the student has been making clear and consistent progress toward a degree. Petitions to return after a third or subsequent leave will be reviewed by an ad hoc committee appointed by the Dean of the College. That committee will be comprised of an Associate or Assistant Dean in the Office of the Dean of the College and a member of Student Health & Wellness Services. Additional individuals may be included when relevant. The student will be informed of the decision and, if readmission is denied, the reason(s) for this decision, in writing. A student who believes that a denial of readmission failed to take into account specific, relevant information that was available or applied an incorrect standard may appeal on that basis to the Dean of the College. Mere disagreement with the decision is not a basis for appeal. Any appeal must be delivered to the Dean in writing within one week after the student receives the decision denying readmission. The decision of the Dean of the College is final.
Student leaves vary in length from one to 6 semesters. Students who wish to return to campus after a leave longer than 6 semesters must reapply through the Admissions process. In exceptional circumstances, the College may waive this requirement.
The presumption for all leaves is that students will return at the beginning of the fall or spring semester. In exceptional circumstances, students may be permitted to return for Winter Study. It is required that students return to campus for a full and successful semester at Williams prior to embarking on a study away experience.
The college reserves the right to require a student on leave to meet with an ad hoc committee in order to determine their readiness to return.
Students are expected to vacate their rooms, including belongings, upon withdrawal from the College and follow all housing deadlines for departure.
Students may request personal leaves of absence and if granted, withdraw from the College. Such time away, often as a period of reassessment and self-evaluation, can prove to be educationally beneficial.
Students may request permission from the Dean’s Office to withdraw at any time (please contact your class dean to request the leave of absence form). If a student is granted a personal leave of absence after the semester begins, but before the end of the drop/add period, the transcript will list the date of withdrawal as the day before the term began. If a personal leave is granted after the end of the drop/add period, but before the end of the eighth week of the semester, the transcript will list the date of withdrawal, but the semester will not count toward the maximum of eight allowed to complete the degree. If a personal withdrawal is allowed after the eighth week of the semester, the transcript will list the date of withdrawal and the courses in progress, each with a W; the semester will normally count toward the maximum of eight allowed to complete the degree and the student will incur deficiencies that must be made up before returning to the College.
Note: Seniors in the final semester approved to take a personal leave of absence after the eighth week of the semester, must complete makeup courses off campus. See Off Campus Course Approval Form for instructions on obtaining approval for courses. Students have three years from their final term to complete degree requirements. Financial Aid recipients please refer to Financial Aid Course Makeup Grant form. Availability of funds may be limited to up to one year following the final semester.
Students who withdraw in good standing are readmitted with the approval of the Dean’s Office.
Students with medical and/or psychological conditions may request leaves of absence and if granted, withdraw from the College in good standing. Verification of the condition, along with a recommendation for the leave, must be provided from an appropriate professional. These types of requests should be made through the Dean’s Office.
If a student is granted a medical leave, the transcript will simply indicate the date of withdrawal without further explanation. If the withdrawal occurs after the start of a term, no courses in progress will be listed and the semester will not count toward the maximum of eight allowed for completing the degree.
Medical leaves may be granted at any time and readmission is contingent upon the condition being resolved or managed successfully. Therefore, there is no mandated minimum length for a medical leave. While on leave, it is advisable for the student to seek necessary medical attention and to document the steps taken and progress made. This information will be part of the readmission process along with assessments from appropriate medical and/or psychological professionals. If the written statement provided by a clinician is unclear or incomplete, the College will require a further statement or may request permission from the student to speak with the clinician directly. Additional information may be sought and might include a personal interview and input from family members, employers, or others who interacted with the student while on leave. In cases where there has been significant psychiatric or psychotherapeutic involvement, the student may be required to meet with a member of the College’s Student Health & Wellness Services. In addition, in order to judge the degree of recovery and readiness to confront the academic and social challenges of Williams, the student may be required to be evaluated by an outside mental health professional selected and paid for by the College as part of the readmission process.
The College will deny readmission to a student who does not provide or allow access to the information the College needs to make its decision about readmission and any conditions to readmission that might apply. Such conditions may include, for example, that a student be in treatment, be compliant with that treatment, and allow his or her clinician(s) periodically to confirm to the College whether the student is in treatment and compliant with that treatment.
The decision whether to permit the student’s return, and whether a return will be subject to certain conditions, will be made on an individualized basis, taking into account the clinical input and other relevant information that is reasonably available.
An otherwise qualified student will not be prohibited from returning from medical leave solely on the basis that they have a disability, have a record of having a disability, or are regarded as having a disability. An “otherwise qualified” student is one who, notwithstanding his or her disability, meets the academic and other standards for participation in the College’s educational programs either with or without one or more reasonable accommodations and does not present a direct threat of serious, imminent harm to self or others. The College will not deny readmission to an otherwise qualified student merely because the student continues to experience a medical or mental health condition or because the College may believe it would be in the student’s best interest to spend additional time away from the College.
The College will not treat students seeking to return from medical leave differently from students who otherwise are similarly situated.
Final decisions about readmission, including any conditions that may apply to readmission, are made by an ad hoc committee appointed by the Dean of the College, which typically will comprise an Associate or Assistant Dean in the Office of the Dean of the College and a member of Student Health & Wellness Services. Additional individuals may be included when relevant. The student will be informed of the decision and, if readmission is denied, the reason(s) for this decision, in writing.
A student who believes that a denial of readmission failed to take into account specific, relevant information that was available or applied an incorrect standard may appeal on that basis to the Dean of the College. Mere disagreement with the decision is not a basis for appeal. Any appeal must be delivered to the Dean in writing within one week after the student receives the decision denying readmission. The decision of the Dean of the College is final.
In rare circumstances, the College may require a student to take a medical leave in the event the student has an illness or condition that poses a direct threat to the health and safety of the student or others, renders the student unable to successfully participate in the educational programs offered by the College, or substantially disrupts the ability of others to fully participate in the educational or employment opportunities offered by the College
Ordinarily, the decision whether to require a student to take a medical leave will be made after notice to the student and after providing an opportunity for the student to be heard. The decision whether to require a student to take a medical leave and what conditions if any will apply in order for a student not to be placed on leave will be made by an ad hoc committee appointed by the Dean of the College, which typically will comprise an Associate or Assistant Dean in the Office of the Dean of the College and a member of Student Health & Wellness Services. Additional individuals may be included when relevant. The student will be informed of the decision. A student who disagrees with the committee’s decision may appeal to the Dean of the College within one week after receiving the decision. The decision of the Dean of the College is final.
In situations that pose immediate risk, the Dean of the College may immediately place a student on an interim leave pending a further determination by the ad hoc committee.
Ordinarily a student who is placed on a mandatory medical leave will be required to spend at least one full semester away before re-entry is considered.
The fact that a student is placed on a mandatory medical leave does not insulate a student from the College’s conduct rules and disciplinary procedures. The College may pursue disciplinary action against a student while the student is on leave or after a student returns in the College’s discretion.
Federal regulations require that all educational institutions disclose their refund policy to all prospective students. In accordance with that regulation, here is the Williams College Refund Policy for the academic year.
It is the policy of Williams College not to permit a student to remain in residence after it has become evident that they are either unable or unwilling to maintain reasonable standards of academic achievement. At the end of each term, the Committee on Academic Standing reviews all academic records that fail to meet the following minimum academic requirements:
- For first-year students: Three grades of C- or better and no failures each semester, and at least Perfunctory Pass on the Winter Study Project
- For upper-class students: Four grades of C- or better, OR three grades of C- or better and a Pass each semester, and at least Perfunctory Pass on the Winter Study Project
Students whose records fail to meet these minimum academic requirements or whose records otherwise fail to show adequate progress may be required to resign.
Students who are required to resign from the College for academic reasons are normally not permitted to return for at least one year from the date of their resignation. A student who has been required to resign from the College may petition the Committee on Academic Standing through the Office of the Dean of the College for reinstatement. That petition must include (1) evidence that the student has made up all course deficiencies, (2) a letter to the Committee providing convincing evidence that the student is ready and able to complete work toward a degree at Williams.
Students who are required to resign due to failure to meet minimum academic requirements can appeal that decision by making a personal statement to the Committee on Academic Standing (in person, in writing, or via Skype/conference call). The CAS decision upon appeal is final.
When required to resign, students must vacate their rooms promptly. Financial aid students must also see the Director of Financial Aid before leaving to discuss loan repayment and renewal of aid in the event of readmission.
Students are expected to vacate their rooms, including belongings, upon withdrawal from the College and follow all housing deadlines for departure.
Transferring from Williams is considered a permanent withdrawal. If you should decide to return to Williams after you have officially withdrawn, you must request transfer back to Williams as part of the normal pool of transfers through the Office of Admission.
Students planning to transfer to another institution should request a form from Cyndi Haley ([email protected]).
Requests for readmission should be submitted (within three years from the term of withdrawal) to the Dean’s Office c/o Cyndi Haley, by e-mail ([email protected]) or fax 413-597-3507 no later than:
1 July if planning to return for the following fall semester
1 December if planning to return for the following spring semester
The presumption for all leaves is that students will return at the beginning of the fall or spring semester. In exceptional circumstances, students may be permitted to return for Winter Study (this request must be made with a CAS Petition). It is required that students return to campus for a full and successful semester at Williams prior to embarking on a study away experience.
Q: Are students who take a leave able to participate in Commencement with their original class?
Only students who have completed all degree requirements are able to participate in Commencement. This means that students who take a leave cannot participate in commencement with their original class. These students can, however, opt to participate in Senior Week, Ivy Exercises, and Baccalaureate with their original class if they so choose. Students who complete their degree requirements in December are invited to return to campus the following June to participate in Commencement exercises. Students who take a leave are able to choose which class they would like to affiliate with for reunion events post graduation.
NOTE: Williams was not able to host a commencement for students who graduated in the Class of 2021 due to COVID-19. We hope to offer these students the opportunity to participate in a commencement celebration when it is safe to do so. Any student from the Class of 2021 who has completed their degree requirements (including those who took a leave and completed their requirements off-cycle) will be included in this opportunity.
Learn more about Williams College Refund Policy