Tips from the Deans

  • Sometimes you may need to take proactive steps towards fully honoring your health and well-being above all else.
  • In addition to seeking treatment, you will be encouraged to engage in activities that you find meaningful.  Students find all kinds of things to do, from taking classes elsewhere, to working, to volunteering, to starting a business (examples: jewelry making, computer related business, dog walking, etc).
  • Some engage in regular exercise or yoga for the first time. This is an opportunity for you to open your options and do things you might never have considered before.
  • Taking time away from the stress of academics in order to attend fully to your health allows you to put your full attention into healing. This  will then allow you to put your full attention into your academics upon your return.
  • Taking a medical leave gives you the chance to focus on growth and development of your personhood as a whole. While away from Brown, you will have more time to focus on other aspects of who you are as a person by finding things that are meaningful to you.

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From Dean Ellis:

I often find that students as well as parents are concerned about pursuing a medical leave of absence due to the uncertainty attached to taking this step.  For many this will be the first time a student will move forward on something without having a fully outlined plan in place.  However, it is our experience that once on leave, many students, including those most concerned about returning to Brown quickly, discover the value of taking time away and realize that taking whatever amount of time is truly needed has great value.   Once students make a shift to focusing on their own health and well-being and away from the rigors of academia, they discover that healing takes whatever time it takes. Indeed, many students discover that it feels good to shift the way they think about themselves in the world, and that they start to see more clearly the factors that contributed to the need for a leave in the first place.

We recommend that students take a full year away mainly for this reason.  We want students to make a commitment to health and healing.   Trying to plan how long a leave will be at the outset is somewhat arbitrary and can interfere with the process of caring for oneself.  We want to be sure students do not set themselves up for a premature return only to have to take another leave from Brown.

Students can petition to return after less than a year away.  Keep in mind that the committee, through careful and thoughtful consideration of all your petition materials, is looking for evidence of sustained stability.  Students who petition before demonstrating this may be asked to take more time away. An overwhelming majority of students whose petition to return is denied the first time do return in a later semester, often reporting that in retrospect they were glad to have taken the extra time after all.