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Students in Distress But Not in Immediate Danger

Signs and Symptoms of a Student in Distress but Not in Any Immediate Danger:*

  • Excessive procrastination and very poorly prepared work, especially if this is inconsistent with previous work.
  • Infrequent class or lab attendance with little or no work completed.
  • Excessive avoidance of their research and of meetings with advisors.
  • Dependency; e.g., the student who hangs around you, makes excessive appointments to see you during office hours or needs excessive amounts of direction or guidance.
  • Inability to make decisions despite your repeated attempts to clarify and encourage.
  • Repeated requests for special consideration; e.g., extensions for examinations or not making progress on their research.
  • Listlessness, lack of energy, or frequently falling asleep in class or lab.
  • Normal emotions that are displayed to an extreme degree or for a prolonged period of time; e.g., fearfulness, tearfulness, nervousness.
  • Marked changes in personality.
  • Dramatic weight loss or weight gain.
  • Behavior that regularly interferes with the decorum or effective management of your class, lab, or office.
  • Use of alcohol or other drugs that leads to academic impairment or represents a change in use for the student; e.g., binge use, coming to class intoxicated or with a hangover.


*Not all of these symptoms need be present to indicate a student needs help. It is also true that telling the difference between an individual's personality style and symptoms of a problem can be difficult. The "symptoms" described above are behaviors that lead to problems for the individual and as such, are reasons for concern. If you are unsure as to whether someone's behavior is something to be concerned about, please call the Counseling Center at x8331 or (626) 395-8331 and we can help you determine if something should be done.


Guidelines for Interacting With Students in Distress but Not in Any Immediate Danger

What to Do:

  • Talk to the student in private.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Show concern and interest.
  • Use open-ended questions, and reflect back the essence of what the student has told you.
  • Avoid criticizing or sounding judgmental.
  • Consider the Counseling Center as a resource and discuss a referral with the student.
  • If the student resists help and you are worried, call the Counseling Center at x8331 or (626) 395-8331 and ask for the director of the Counseling Services or for any other psychologist and discuss your concerns.
  • Involve yourself only as far as you feel comfortable. Extending oneself can be a gratifying experience when kept within realistic limits.


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