Leaves of Absence

From time to time, students may need to take time away from the college under circumstances where they wish to maintain their status as enrolled students, eligible to return to active status without applying for readmission. The leaves of absence policy can be found within the Academic Policies & Procedures of the College (scroll down to Status Changes).  Anyone considering a leave of absence should go to that policy and read it in its entirety. 

Taking a Leave of Absence

Requests for leave from the college are considered for a variety of reasons. These are the more common reasons, but they are not intended to be an exhaustive list:

  • Health-related
  • Family circumstances (such as illness or death of a family member)
  • Financial hardship
  • Global educational opportunities not approved by Dickinson
  • Academic performance (when affected by illness or family circumstances, but not to avoid poor grades)
  • Unique non-academic opportunities
  • Other reasons such as volunteer work or taking time away from college to reassess one's educational goals

A request for a leave of absence should generally be submitted before the beginning of the semester but no later than the last day of add/drop of the semester for which the leave is sought. Exceptions are routinely made to allow for a leave of absence during the semester where the reason for the leave could not be planned, such as in health or family emergencies.

To start the leave process, the student should complete the Request for a Leave of Absence Form.  However, it may be helpful to have a conversation with either Lindsay Mintz, Student Care Coordinator, or Angie Harris, Associate Vice President for Student Life, for any leave but especially when considering a leave mid-semester. This may help answer questions and avoid confusion.  Once the request form is submitted, the leave will be processed.  Students are strongly encouraged to select "email me a copy of this report" at the bottom of the form, as a record of the information submitted.  It can be a helpful resource while on leave.

Once the form is received, Angie Harris will be in touch with the student to request additional information as needed, which will include documentation from a health provider for health-related leaves.  

All formal correspondence about leaves of absence takes place through our case management software, this allows for secure delivery of documents.  Students will get a message from Angie Harris, prompting them to log in to access the letter.  Students are encouraged to save letters received, as access to the documents through that platform will go away within 30 days.  If you need a letter re-sent to you, please reach out to Angie Harris.

If you are taking a leave of absence mid-semester, you will need to fully move out of your campus residence.  Once the leave is processed, card access to the building and meal plan will be disabled.  Please be in touch directly with Residence Life & Housing to make arrangements to move out of your space, which may require picking up a temporary access card to regain access to the space if you need to return to campus to move out.  For any questions about the move-out process, please contact Residence Life & Housing (or 717-245-1556).

While on a Leave of Absence

A student will maintain access to their Dickinson email, Gateway, and other online resources, as they are still considered Dickinson students with an inactive student status.  Students should regularly check their Dickinson email to avoid losing access.  If a student cannot access their Dickinson account online, they should be in touch with the HelpDesk (or 717-245-1000) to regain access to their account.  All correspondence regarding the leave of absence will be sent to the student's Dickinson email account.

A student on a leave of absence is completely separated from the physical campus and may be on campus or at College-sponsored activities only with written permission from the Associate Vice President for Student Life. Generally, campus visits are limited to the handling of administrative matters related to the student's leave.

Students on an approved leave of absence may take a maximum of two preapproved courses per term for transfer back to Dickinson.  A student can only transfer up to two courses (the equivalent of two Dickinson credits) if they are in good academic standing at the College (for more information on good academic standing, see Academic Bulletin, scroll down to Academic Expectations). Students should seek approval prior to starting the course(s) by submitting the Enrollment at Another Institution Form to the Registrar's Office.

For any questions while on a leave of absence, please contact Angie Harris (or 717-254-8974), Associate Vice President for Student Life.

Returning from a Leave of Absence

Students are able to return to the college, add classes, and secure campus housing once they have met the criteria described in their leave of absence approval letter and have been cleared to return.  Students should expect to hear from Angie Harris with information about starting the process to return around October 15 for a spring return and March 15 for a fall return. We will strive to get students re-instated by December 1 for the spring semester and July 1 for the fall semester.  The process for returning from leave can take up to four weeks to complete in some situations.  Therefore, it may not be possible to begin a return from leave process less than a month before the first day of the semester.  Students will start the return process by submitting the Request for Return from a Leave of Absence.   For questions about returning from leave, please reach out to Angie Harris or schedule a meeting.