Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How can S3 help me?

As a student said in our survey, "No problem is too large or small, and whatever you're going through right now isn't final. S3 will help you get the tools to work through it." We can help with lots of things! Here are some examples:

  • Making plans with classes when extenuating circumstances get in the way of your courseworks (ie, Illness or injury, struggles with mental health, relationships/family issues)
  • Adjusting to MIT and finding your community
  • Identifying and connecting with various Institute resources
  • Talking through how to help a friend who is struggling
  • Navigating academic difficulties or review by the Committee on Academic Performance (CAP)
  • Resources for emergency expenses
  • Thinking through potentially taking time away from MIT


2. How many MIT students seek help at S3?

Over 75 percent of all MIT students will visit S3 at least once during their years at MIT, and we have well above 8,000 student visits each year!


3. What should I expect when I come to S3?

When you come either to drop-ins or to an appointment, you will probably meet with an S3 representative for 5 - 15 minutes (for a drop-in) up to thirty minutes (for an appointment). During that time, you will have an informal conversation about the reason you came in. You should feel free to ask any questions you have in order to make yourself feel more comfortable. We will work together on a plan for next steps, which may or may not include another visit to S3. 


4. What is the difference between a drop-in and an appointment?

Appointments are scheduled for thirty minutes. These are best for topics that need a little more time and discussion. They are also best if you want to follow up with a specific S3 staff member. You can use the S3 appointment form to schedule a meeting. Common topics include:

  • Chronic health challenges
  • Family or relationship difficulties
  • Academic skill development

Drop-ins are designed to help you with something quick or immediate. These can be the first step towards a larger conversation or it might be all you need to take care of a more concrete situation. Common topics include:

  • A current, short term illness like strep throat
  • A question about resources at MIT
  • Advice around planning ahead for an absence


5. I'm struggling to keep up. What should I do?

You are not alone! Please come talk with us so we can help figure out what is getting in the way. It is helpful to seek support as early as possible, but it's also important to know that it is never too late. There are always options, and they vary depending on the circumstances. Set up a meeting and we can explore them with you.


6. If I'm sick, what should I do about my exam or problem set the next day?

If you are too sick to take an exam or complete other work, we encourage you NOT to do so. Rather, you should prioritize health and start with seeking medical attention. Next, check your syllabi for class policies. If it is after hours, it often makes sense to let your teaching staff know that you will not be able to complete the work. You can then follow up with one of our staff during drop-in hours. We can then work with your teaching staff to either postpone the work, or make other arrangements. This also applies to final exams.


7. Can I come to S3 if I'm concerned about a friend?

Absolutely! We encourage any student who is concerned about a friend to come in and talk with us. We are happy to provide support and suggestions about ways to approach the situation so that your friend gets the help they may need.


8. If I'm dealing with personal issues that are interfering with my work, how do I talk to my professor about it?

Talking to professors about personal issues can feel intimidating. S3 staff are happy to assist with this, either by providing suggestions on how to approach your professor about the issue, or, with your permission, consulting with the professor on your behalf. Your instructors may want confirmation that you are facing a difficult situation, but will not expect any details.


9. What is it like to take time away from MIT?

Many students (about one hundred each year) choose to take time away from MIT. We work closely with each individual student to set up a plan for their time away, as well as for their return. Students consistently tell us that they are relieved by how smooth the process is. If you want to learn more, you can visit the Leaves section of our website or set up an appointment with one of our staff.


10. What's the difference between S3 and MIT Student Mental Health and Counseling Service?

Although MIT Student Mental Health and Counseling Service is one of our closest partners, we are very different offices. MIT Student Mental Health and Counseling Service provides individual counseling and psychotherapy, group counseling, evaluations, consultations, and neuropsychology consults. Their staff consists of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and nurses. MIT Medical and the MIT Student Mental Health and Counseling Service do not provide advocacy on behalf of students to the academic world for confidentiality reasons. 

S3 does not provide treatment or therapy. We help students dealing with academic and personal issues by providing support, guidance, advice, advocacy, and referrals. Most often, the students we see are dealing with a combination of academic and personal problems and we work together with you to sort everything out. 

If you aren't sure where to go, you are welcome to start here and we can help you figure out what makes sense for you.


11. Is what I say in S3 confidential?

What students say to us is generally private, though there are situations when limited information would be shared on a need-to-know basis. There might also be times when you request that we communicate with someone about your situation for you. Please read our Privacy Statement for more information. 

Please see here for a list of confidential resources at MIT.