Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The following are some questions we frequently receive along with their associated answers. If your question is not addressed on this page, please contact us so that we can assist further.

1. How can S3 help me?

S3 is meant to be a friendly, easily accessible office and a hub of resources, referrals, and information across the Institute. We are here to help with any concern you have, whether it is academic or personal. Besides providing support and advice, we can provide advocacy and consultation with faculty, administration, housing, financial services, and various Institute offices on your behalf. S3 deans can also advocate on students' behalf if they encounter academic difficulties and are under review by the Committee on Academic Performance (CAP). If you are thinking of taking a semester away from school, we can plan and arrange for your time away from MIT and also help with planning for your return.

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

While we are operating remotely for Fall 2020, there are several ways you can connect with S3. You can call 617-253-4861 or email to make an appointment. If you are already connected to a dean, you can email them directly. You can also come to virtual walk-in hours from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm EST every weekday. You can access virtual walk-ins by going to the S^3 Help Queue and logging in with your Kerberos. When you come to your first appointment you will probably meet with a dean for fifteen to thirty minutes, and during that time, you will have an informal conversation about the reason you set up the appointment. You should feel free to ask your dean any questions you have in order to make yourself feel more comfortable. Together with your dean, you will come up with a plan for next steps, which may or may not include another visit to S3.

3. 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. Our staff is composed of academic administrators from a variety of backgrounds. 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 can visit either S3 or MIT Student Mental Health and Counseling Service and we will make a referral if necessary.

4. How many MIT students seek help at S3?

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

5. Is what I say in S3 confidential?

What students say to us is generally confidential, though there are situations when limited information would be shared on a need-to-know basis. Please read our Privacy Statement for more information.

6. If I fall behind in my work, or if I fail some of my tests, what are my options?

Many students get discouraged, thinking it's "too late" to turn things around with their work, and they may give up and just stop going to class. It's important to know there are always options, and they vary depending on the circumstances. Come to S3 and let us explore them with you.

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 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 immediately seek medical attention, let your professor know that you will not be able to complete the work, and contact S3. We can then work with your professor to either postpone the work, or make other arrangements. This also applies to final exams.

9. If I want to take time away from MIT, will I be allowed to return?

Many students (about one hundred each year) choose to take time away from MIT, and most of those students return as planned. We work closely with each individual student to set up a plan for their time away, as well as for their return. All return requests are processed through S3. See the Leave and Return Request section for complete details.

10. 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 deans 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.