What to Do If You Experience an Unexpected Emergency in College

One of the most stressful times in a college student’s life is when unexpected emergencies pop up. Between missing classes or failing to complete assignments, the unexpected can wreak havoc on your GPA, mental health, and ability to finish school on time. 

Many students don’t know how to handle significant emergencies that take them away from their education. It leaves them asking several questions. What will happen to their financial aid if they take time off? Will colleges make exceptions if they have to leave campus for an extended period?

One of the tough things about emergencies is that you can never really plan for them. However, to set yourself up for a successful return to school, here are some things to do as soon as you can in the face of a major emergency while in school.

Contact Your Academic Advisor 

The first person you should contact at your school is your academic advisor. You’ll want to let them know a few essential things so they can set up a plan for you, including:

  • A brief explanation of what’s going on (the emergency)
  • How you expect it to affect your education (assignments, missing classes, etc.)
  • What your immediate plan is
  • Where and when they can contact you
  • When you’ll expect to check in with an update

With this information, your advisor should be able to give you a plan of action. The next steps might include contacting your professors to get your assignments as well as resources to help you through the emergency. 

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Contact Your Professors

Your academic advisor should be able to help you with this step. They might suggest ideas about what to say to your professors or how to go about reaching out. In some cases, your advisor may be able to handle contacting your professors for you, but don’t count on this.

Make time to email your professors with a similar breakdown to what you told your advisor. Thank them for their understanding, and be sure to ask how you can go about making up any missed assignments, quizzes, or tests when you return. 

Keep in mind that you don’t have to lay everything out there or be overly dramatic. Explain your situation, sharing as much information as you’re comfortable with, and keep a level head. 

Tell Your Dorm or Roommates

If you’re going to be absent from your living situation for a while, it’s best to tell the people you live with.

If you live in a dorm, be sure to tell both your dorm mates and your RA. That way, no one gets alarmed if you’re missing for an extended period of time or coming and going at different hours. 

If you live with roommates, have an open discussion with them. If you are gone long enough that they might need to consider a new roommate, you definitely want to give them as much heads up as possible. 

Visit Your Financial Aid Office

Some major emergencies come with a financial crisis as well. If this is the case for you, be sure to visit your financial aid office on campus.

Whether it’s an emergency flight home or help paying medical expenses, you’d be surprised by the resources your financial aid office has. They may be able to help you or direct you to resources that will save you money in the long run. 

You’ll also want to discuss your financial aid eligibility with the office. If you’re planning an extended absence from school, there is a chance it can affect your aid package. If that’s the case, an aid advisor can help you determine the best course of action when it comes to ensuring you get your aid back upon your return. 

Reach Out For Support

In the middle of a personal crisis, it’s easy to go inward and refuse help from the people that love us most. Make sure to reach out to your friends and family members. Tell them what’s going on. Chances are, you’ll feel better knowing you have a supportive group of people around you that want to help you get through these tough times.

By checking these quick and easy steps off your list, you can get through any major emergency without having to worry about sacrificing your education. The first step is always communication.