Parents and Families

We welcome your student to Columbia!

We are committed to working with students throughout their time at Columbia. University life offers rich opportunities for intellectual, social and personal growth, but these opportunities may also present challenges. These may include adjusting to life in a new city (and in some instances, a new country) without accustomed social supports; adapting to new academic standards, expectations or teaching methods; making career choices; balancing academics and relationships and so forth. Parents and families play a critical role in supporting students as they negotiate the academic, social and emotional transitions of the college and university years.

Columbia Health offers many programs and services to support your student in these transitions.

Medical Services

Medical Services works with families by suggesting ways to help students maintain their health and by providing advice on guiding students toward appropriate care.

We focus on helping students learn to manage their health and negotiate the local and national health care systems. Families can help students prepare to come to Columbia by collecting copies of important medical records and reviewing the student’s medical history including immunization records, previous surgeries, hospitalizations, chronic health conditions, and treatments.

These records may be brought to the student’s first medical visit with Medical Services. Students should be prepared to describe any allergies they have or medications they are currently taking.

Entering students who have any health concerns or who would simply like to get advice about a health issue should schedule an appointment with their Primary Care Provider (PCP) when they arrive on campus. Each provider is a member of one of our three practice groups, and we encourage students to request an appointment with the same provider or a provider in the same practice group any time they return to Medical Services. They may select any Medical Services clinicians as their primary care provider or continue with the provider who has been selected for them.

Medical Services understands that parents and families sometimes become concerned about a student’s health while they are away. Medical Services providers follow federal standards for maintaining the confidentiality of the student’s health information when responding to inquiries from parents or family members. In many cases we may ask you to have your student call us directly with their consent.  Please contact us for additional information about our services or our approach to providing care and promoting your students’ health.

Counseling Services

Counseling and Psychological Services is available to students who wish to discuss their concerns with a professional counselor. Students may seek help regarding concerns ranging from conflicts with a roommate, to shyness to problems completing a dissertation or other work assignments to more chronic psychiatric disorders.

Counseling and Psychological Services offers assessment, consultation, crisis intervention, brief counseling, couples counseling, and a wide range of therapy and support groups, as well as psychiatric services and medication evaluations when indicated. We will assist with referrals for longer-term treatment when it is needed.

Counseling and Psychological Services has drop-in office offices centers on campus. Students are welcome to drop in without an appointment to see a counselor at any of these offices, each of which maintains late evening hours.

Counseling and Psychological Services is also available to consult with family members who have concerns about a close relative at Columbia. For example, we can help you evaluate signs of excessive stress you may have observed in a student, and help you think about what interventions, if any, might be appropriate. We especially encourage parents of students who have benefited from counseling at home to contact us for assistance in arranging for continued support here in New York.

You are welcome to contact CPS and speak with one of our counselors. Of course, in any consultation, we adhere to the strict standards of confidentiality that guides our work with students.

Disability Services

Disability Services is available to speak with you and your student about the important differences between high school and college with respect to services for students with disabilities. Understanding these differences will help to ensure a smooth transition period for both you and your student.  A summary that highlights these differences follows.

In high school, teachers or other school personnel identified students who were in need of services, provided free assessments, and developed Individualized Educational Plans (IEP’s) based on these assessments. These plans may have included a modified curriculum, specialized instruction, tutoring, academic accommodations, and services of a personal nature.
In contrast, postsecondary education requires students with disabilities to be more self-directed about gaining access to key accommodations they need. While K-12’s emphasis is on ensuring students’ success, postsecondary disability services is focused upon "leveling the playing field" for students with disabilities so that they have equal opportunity and equal access. With these important distinctions in mind, the following are key features of Disability Services at Columbia:

  • Students must self-identify to Disability Services to request accommodations.
  • Students must provide documentation that meets Disability Services guidelines of their condition/disability.
    • Columbia is not responsible for assessing or determining students’ disability status or related needs. Colleges also have the right to set reasonable standards regarding the type of documentation and can require that such documentation be current.
  • Higher education institutions, including Columbia, review students’ documentation and determine their disability-related needs for academic adjustments and reasonable accommodations.
    • Reasonable accommodations coordinated by Disability Services include extended time on exams, note taking services, textbooks and other materials in an alternate format, sign language interpreting, CART and C-Print services.
  • Disability Services consults with faculty and/or students’ academic programs to ensure that accommodations do not modify the fundamental nature of these programs.
  • Additionally, services of a personal nature and tutoring are not considered reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the two laws which govern the provision of accommodations at the college level.
  • Students are expected to follow the established procedures for receiving reasonable accommodations in order to maintain their eligibility for such accommodations.

Disability Services looks forward to working with your student as s/he becomes a part of the vibrant Columbia community.  If you have any questions, please contact Disability Services.

Sexual Violence Response

Sexual Violence Response provides information to parents and families about sexual and relationship violence and prevention. We also provide:

  • consultations to family members of student survivors of sexual or relationship violence
  • referrals for on-campus, community-based and national support services
  • tips on how to best support a loved one who has experienced violence


Last updated April 17, 2014