“I’m at risk of failing. I need a letter explaining why.”
Some students come to the Counseling Clinic requesting a letter of support to be sent to an instructor, department, registrar or financial aid because they are not doing well in one or more classes. These students typically would like for us to provide a letter verifying they have personal problems which have interfered with their academic performance.
Indeed, sometimes personal problems do interfere with one's ability to concentrate on academic work. However, while our counselors remain supportive of students' academic efforts, they cannot confirm difficulties or issues about which they have no prior information or knowledge. If students have not participated in counseling at the Counseling Clinic other than to attend an initial screening or a crisis intervention session, we could only provide a brief letter that states:
- the student attended a single, initial session at the Counseling Clinic on a specific date, the session was not a comprehensive psychological evaluation,
- the counselor cannot make a recommendation about the student’s academic status or mental health status, but is only confirming attendance for one session.
We strongly encourage students to seek assistance early, before personal problems interfere with their academic progress. Counselors are more likely to be able to write a supportive letter if a student has been participating in ongoing counseling. Please talk with your counselor if you are experiencing personal difficulties that you believe are negatively affecting your academic performance.
Talk To Your Instructors
Students often avoid talking to their instructors about academic difficulties stemming from personal or psychological concerns. The pattern of avoidance often begins to include missing classes, not turning in assignments, or not showing up to take exams. Unfortunately, instructors often do not learn of a student's difficulties until it is too late to address the problem successfully. We strongly encourage you to talk to course instructors as soon as you realize personal, emotional, and psychological issues are interfering with your academic progress. While there are no guarantees instructors will be able to help every student identify all the steps needed to resolve academic problems, instructors can better help students towards success when they are informed early of problems or issues which negatively affect academic performance. Counseling Clinic staff can assist students in identifying effective ways to communicate with instructors about their personal and psychological difficulties and the impact of those difficulties on their academic progress.