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Policy Overview

Wheaton College (the College) recognizes circumstances arise that may interfere with a student’s ability to complete their coursework, take care of themselves, or be as successful as they would like to be.  For that reason, students may petition to withdraw from the College through the withdrawal process outlined in this policy.

Students may petition to take two types of withdrawals: Medical or Non-Medical. In certain circumstances, the College may also initiate an Involuntary Withdrawal.

  • Medical Withdrawal: There may be times when a student needs to take a short term withdrawal from the College, with the intention of returning, for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to physical health, mental health, or substance use challenges that impact their ability to be successful.  Students can elect to proceed with a Medical Withdrawal through the Academic Advising Office in the Filene Center and Dean of Students Office.
  • Non-Medical Withdrawal: There may be times when a student needs to take a short term withdrawal from the College, with or without the intention of returning, for a variety of reasons including but not limited to having to return home due to family matters, needing to work, or for other reasons of financial necessity.  Students can elect to proceed with a Non-Medical Withdrawal through The Academic Advising Office in the Filene Center.
  • Involuntary Withdrawal: There may be times when the College initiates an Involuntary Withdrawal of a student due to significant concerns regarding the well-being and/or safety of the individual student, other students, or the College community.  Additionally, there may be times that the College initiates an Involuntary Withdrawal of a student due to other reasons including but not limited to financial status, academic status or conduct. This decision would be initiated by the department responsible for overseeing the circumstances of the particular student, and processed through the Academic Advising Office.

Prior to the initiation of any type of withdrawal, a student may be required to sign releases of information by and between providers treating the student (i.e. student’s medical, psychological or substance use providers), or others involved in the student care or those who are knowledgeable about the student (i.e. parents, guardians, others involved in an incident which leads to an Involuntary Withdrawal), to provide information regarding the student to appropriate College officials.  These releases would authorize disclosure of the student’s physical health, mental health, substance use or other history to best support treatment and withdrawal planning for the well-being of the student.

During a withdrawal, the College will monitor and update a student’s status as either active / on leave / withdrawn.  Consideration for their return will be determined by the type of withdrawal the student is on, and return to campus for any type of medical leave or involuntary leave will be approved by the Withdrawal Committee (comprised of the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Dean of Advising and Academic Success, Director of Counseling and Health Services and, when indicated, a representative from Student Financial Services or Student Health Services).

If a student wishes to pursue academic credit(s) while on a withdrawal status, and transfer that credit back to the College, they must receive prior approval from the appropriate faculty department chairperson.  The Transfer Credit page provides information regarding the transferring of college credit. Questions can be directed to the Academic Advising Office or the Office of the Registrar.

Students who do not petition to return to the College in the following semester, or request to extend their leave following an absence of four consecutive semesters, will be administratively withdrawn from the College.  Students administratively withdrawn from the College must contact the Academic Advising Office for consideration to return.

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Withdrawal Types

Medical Withdrawal

A Medical Withdrawal is a voluntary withdrawal a student may petition to be granted when they are seeking to address physical health, mental health, or substance use challenges that limit their ability to successfully participate in educational programming; pose a direct threat to the student, or others; or substantially disrupts the ability for other students to successfully participate in educational opportunities offered by the College.  Students who are approved for a Medical Withdrawal are typically withdrawn from the College at the discretion of the Withdrawal Committee for up to one full academic year, no less than one full academic semester, and may re-petition the College to extend that withdrawal for up to one additional academic year. Petition reasons for Medical Withdrawals may include, but are not limited to the following examples:

  • Depression;
  • Anxiety;
  • Schizophrenia;
  • Eating Disorder;
  • Substance Use Concerns;
  • Physical injury due to an accident; and
  • Chronic medical conditions.

The College takes Medical Withdrawals seriously and maintains the sincerest care for the student(s) involved. Therefore, the College requires that students seek a Medical Withdrawal at the time of the health concerns interference in the student’s life.  Typically, the College does not approve retroactive or backdated, medical withdrawal requests (i.e., after a semester is completed, grades are issued, for previous semesters, backdated to when the challenges first arose or when medical leave was first recommended by a College official or provider if the student chose not to pursue the leave at that time, etc.).

Non-medical Withdrawal

A Non-Medical Withdrawal is a voluntary withdrawal from the College for up to one full academic year, no less than one full academic semester, and may be extended for up to one additional academic year.  Students who do not communicate with the College about their intentions following a withdrawal will be administratively withdrawn by the Academic Advising Office in the Filene Center. The College understands that a Non-Medical Withdrawal can be a time for a student to reassess and self-evaluate and subsequently be beneficial for their holistic development and success.   Petition reasons for a Non-Medical Withdrawal may include, but are not limited to, the following examples:

  • Financial difficulties; cost of college; need to work full-time,
  • Difficult personal (non-medical) circumstances; family matters needing attention;
  • Uncertainty about major and future career aspirations;
  • Taking a gap year to reconsider;
  • College was not the right fit; course of study not offered;
  • Lack of support from and engagement with faculty/staff at the college; and
  • Semester or Year abroad at a program not supported by the College.
Involuntary Withdrawal

The College may require withdrawal of a student for reasons including, but not limited to those listed below:

  • Physical Health, Mental Health or Substance Use: When all good faith efforts by the College have been made to accommodate and support the student with little or no success; situations where the student poses a threat of harm to self or others or is unduly disruptive to the effective participation of other students’ academic, residential or extracurricular experience, or where the student is unable themselves to safely and/or effectively participate in the College’s academic, residential life or extracurricular activities due to a physical, mental health or substance use condition.
  • Academic Suspension: Students whose semester and/or cumulative grade point average is below 2.00 for two consecutive semesters, or whose semester grade point average is significantly below standard, may be placed on academic suspension by the Committee on Academic Standing (CAS). Academic Suspension requires students to leave the institution involuntarily for up to two semesters. Students who have been placed on academic suspension or academic dismissal may appeal the decision of CAS by submitting a letter of appeal and any additional supporting documentation to the committee by the specified deadline. Students who have been suspended for academic reasons may petition to be readmitted after one semester if they fulfill certain academic requirements specified by the committee. See Academic Advising for more information.
  • Disciplinary Suspensions: Students may be subject to suspension from the College for a determined period of time or may be subject to permanent expulsion, by action of the Dean of Students Office or the College Hearing Board, for conduct determined to be a violation of the Wheaton Honor Code and Community Standards or other College policies. Disciplinary suspension or expulsion will be effective immediately. Students suspended or expelled from the College for conduct during the course of a semester are not entitled to a refund of tuition and fees; may not complete work for classes for which they are enrolled; will be withdrawn from courses in progress, and a notation of “Withdrawn” with effective date will be reflected on the student’s academic transcript. At the sole discretion of the Dean of Students / Vice President of Student Affairs or Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, the action may be held in abeyance pending the outcome of an appeal submitted in accordance with the college student conduct procedures.
  • Administrative Withdrawal: Students who fail to communicate with the college about their status and remain unregistered for the following semester will be administratively withdrawn by the Academic Advising Office on the Friday prior to the first day of classes.
  • Financial: Students are required to complete payment of their tuition, fees and all other charges by the stated deadlines to maintain active enrollment status, to be eligible to register for courses, and, if approved, to return from a leave. Late fees may be imposed if payment is not received by the due date. College policy states that any student with a balance at least 60 days past due may not be permitted to enroll or return for subsequent terms until the past due balance is paid in full. Students who are unable to fulfill their financial obligations to the college and do not work out a satisfactory payment plan may be required to take a leave of absence (and/or may not receive approval to return to the College after taking a leave) until such time as their accounts with the College are resolved. See Student Financial Services for more information

In accordance with the Student Conduct Process, students withdrawn involuntarily may also be subject to any normal disciplinary action before, during and following a withdrawal period if their conduct leading to the withdrawal has violated the College’s Honor Code, Community Standards, or other College policies.

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Withdrawal Process

To initiate a withdrawal, students must verbally, or in writing (via email or letter) request a withdrawal and state the reason for the withdrawal.  This notification must be made to the Academic Advising Office and will effectively begin the administrative withdrawal process. The next step a student must take is to fill out the Withdrawal Form and submit it to the Academic Advising Office in the Filene Center.  The Office of Academic Advising will serve as the conduit for all processes, aiding students in communicating with the Dean of Students Office, Student Financial Services, the Registrar, Professors, on campus employment and any other procedural support a student may need during this process.

Any additional necessary documentation for a leave to be considered (for example: withdrawal form and medical provider documentation) must be submitted to the Office of Academic Advising or otherwise specified within ten business days of the initial request for a leave.

Students petitioning specifically for a Medical Withdrawal are required to provide the following document(s) to the Dean of Students Office:

    • A letter of support from a current treating physical or mental health provider detailing the diagnosis, current functional limitations, recommendation for leave and plan for course of treatment while away; and
    • Any additional documentation at the Withdrawal Committee’s discretion.

Once a petition is filed, the following steps are taken typically within ten business days:

  • Review of the petition by the Withdrawal Committee
    During this step, petitions will be carefully considered for type of withdrawal requested (non-medical / medical), duration of withdrawal, and necessary requirements for return.  Students may be required to meet with staff in the Academic Advising Office, Dean of Students Office, or Office of Counseling and Health Services for clarification regarding their petition, to access triage support services (e.g., Residential Life, Financial Aid, Athletics etc.), and/or to provide additional support to the student through the process.  This is at the discretion of the Committee and the Dean of Students Office.
  • Students are informed of the status of their petition as “approved” or “not approved” in writing via e-mail to their Wheaton account or campus mail.
  • It is important to note, refund schedules are maintained by Student Financial Services.  Special consideration for Medical Withdrawal refunds is left to the discretion of the College on a case-by-case basis.
  • Once a petition is approved, the Withdrawal Committee via the Academic Advising Office in the Filene Center will communicate with appropriate college offices to ensure the student’s status is changed to withdrawn and appropriate staff and faculty are notified.
  • The Withdrawal Committee via the Academic Advising Office in the Filene Center will place a temporary hold on the student’s account pending their return.
Appeals Process

Students wishing to appeal a withdrawal decision, may do so in writing (via email or letter) to the appropriate office or committee that has initiated the withdrawal. Students must follow the designated appeals process and timeline respective to their withdrawal type.

If students wish to appeal this decision, the following are required:

  • Information regarding grounds for the appeal; and
  • Outline or proof of supporting evidence

The appropriate office or committee will notify students of the outcome of their appeal within ten business days following receipt of the appeal request. Appeal outcomes are final.

Return from Withdrawal Process

The College expects all students who are on any type of withdrawal to maintain communication with the College.  Students on a Medical must maintain communication with the Dean of Students Office regarding their intentions of returning to the College.  Students on a Voluntary Withdrawal must maintain communication with the Office of Academic Advising regarding their intentions of returning to the College. Students on an Involuntary Withdrawal must maintain communication with the office who initiated their withdrawal regarding their intentions of returning to the College.

In order to initiate the process of returning to the College from a Medical or Involuntary Withdrawal:

  • Are required to contact the appropriate office who initiated their withdrawal to schedule a time to speak with the appropriate representative regarding their return.  Requests to return for Fall semesters are due by August 1st, and requests to return for Spring semesters are due by January 1st.
  • All requirements outlined in the approved withdrawal letter must be completed before a request to return is considered; and
  • Specifically for Medical Withdrawal, any necessary supporting documents, including but not limited to, outlining of treatment completed, current functioning and recommendations from current treating physical or mental health providers, program completion certificates, may be requested from the Dean of Students Office and are required at the time of the request to return.
  • If unsure what office your withdrawal was through, contact Academic Advising for guidance and support.

Once the Dean of Students Office receives a request to return from a Medical or Involuntary Withdrawal, and all mandatory documentation has been provided, the following steps are followed:

  • Review of the return request, and all documentation provided is completed by the Dean of Students Office with the input of the withdrawal committee / Dean of Academic Advising and Director of Counseling and Health Services or their designees.
    If applicable, any plans outlined in return documentation from providers (e.g., wellness plans, counseling, academic study halls, etc.) to aid in the success of the student are required to be set up/complete; and
    Failure to complete supporting plans for success may result in an Involuntary Withdrawal or refusal of the request to return to campus by the College.
  • Students are informed of the status regarding their request as “approved” or “not approved” to return in writing via written correspondence from the Withdrawal Committee / Dean of Students Office within ten business days of the receipt of required return documentation.
  • Holds placed on student accounts will not be lifted until the return is approved and all outstanding financial and registration requirements are met.
Transferring Elsewhere

Students who wish to leave the College and not return should contact the Office of Academic Advising and complete all necessary paperwork as required by the College.  For more information regarding your student record (e.g., credits, transcripts, etc.) contact the Office of the Registrar.

Short Term Leave Procedure

At times, for their safety and well-being, students may be hospitalized inpatient for a medical or mental health reason or attend an intensive outpatient hospitalization program (Rehab, IOP, PHP, etc.).  These services can be initiated in the best interest of the student by the College (Counseling Center or Public Safety), by the student themselves, or by a family member, friend or medical provider.

If a student is hospitalized inpatient due to a medical reason (including but not limited to, surgery, medical treatment for chronic illness, sudden illness, etc.) for any period of time, the return procedure is the same as a student who may be hospitalized for a mental health reason (behavioral, mental health or substance use related) or attends an intensive outpatient hospitalization program. Students who are hospitalized inpatient for a mental health reason, or participate in an intensive outpatient hospitalization program, are often gone from campus for anywhere from three days to multiple weeks or months.

When a student is hospitalized inpatient for any reason, or attends an intensive outpatient hospitalization program, the College recommends:

  • The student, or representative of the student notify the Dean of Students Office that they are in the hospital and for what reason.
  • The student sign a Release of Information for their provider to communicate with the Dean of Students Office to notify the Dean’s Office that the student is hospitalized, for what reason, and for approximately how long.  This will ensure support from the College, and notification of Professors as needed.
  • Continued communication from the student or a representative of the student (provider, parent/guardian etc.) with the Dean of Students Office regarding status and disposition of the student, and plans for return or medical leave following discharge from the hospital.

When a student is discharged from the inpatient hospitalization or intensive outpatient hospitalization program, if the student wishes to return to the College, the student must follow the below steps before coming back on campus (including going to their residence hall).  If there are any questions, you may contact the Dean of Students Office.

  • Schedule a Return to Campus meeting with the Dean of Students Office to review documentation from hospitalization and be approved to be back on campus. This can be scheduled by calling the Dean of Students Office at 508-286-8218 (and may be done by the student themselves or a case manager at the hospital / parent or guardian).
    This meeting must take place before the student is back in their residence hall or attending classes.  Approval to be back in their residence hall or attend classes prior to the Return to Campus meeting is made on a case by case basis by the Dean of Students Office.  To discuss this possibility, please contact the Dean of Students Office.
  • Discharge paperwork from the hospital should be faxed to the Dean of Students Office (fax: 508-286-3470) prior to the return to campus meeting scheduled.  This is typically faxed by the provider or case manager at the hospital upon discharge of the student. The student may also wish to sign releases of information for the Counseling Center or Health Services. As these offices are both confidential offices, without a release of information, they cannot confirm or deny information about any student and that student’s involvement with their services.  The Counseling Center and Health Services administrators are utilized by the Dean of Students Office to review documentation that is within their specialty to give expert feedback regarding the care and appropriateness of students to return to campus (based solely on the discharge paperwork provided).Once the paperwork has been received by the Dean of Students Office, it will be reviewed by the below individuals/offices:
    1. Dean of Students Office prior to return to campus meeting
    2. Director of Counseling and Health Services if mental health hospitalization
      Fax: 508-286-8264
    3. Associate Director of Student Health Services if medical hospitalization
      Fax: 508-286-5409
  • During the Return to Campus Meeting, the student will review with the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, or designee, the treatment received, recommendations from the hospital (further outpatient treatment / specialized care etc.), the hospitals’ recommendation for the student to return to campus or home, and the plans (inclusive of reviewing already scheduled appointments for follow up care, etc.) of support for the student going forward. Based upon the documentation provided, any conversations the Dean of Students Office has had with the student / family / hospital providers, a recommendation will be made regarding whether the student can and should return to campus or not.
  • If the student is approved to be back on campus they should return to their schedule as normal, but it is recommended they check in with Academic Advising as well as their Professors regarding any missed work and reincorporating themselves back into the classroom.
  • If the student is recommended to take a medical leave, the procedures in sections II – V should be followed.

The college reserves the right to involuntarily remove a student due to significant concerns regarding the well-being and/or safety of the individual student, other students, or the college community.

Resources

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