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Dean of Students Student Outreach & Support

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Three students talking outside University Quad.

Student Outreach & Support (SOS) is a service within the Dean of Students' office. SOS provides support to students who experience administrative, academic, or personal roadblocks. SOS works collaboratively with ODU's Care Team, and is here to help students achieve their personal and academic goals.




When to Make a Referral

Faculty members, staff members, and fellow students may be concerned for the well-being of a student after a student experiences a tragedy or seems to be in distress. Students needing additional care and support often exhibit one or more of the following signs.


Physical Signs

  • Significant changes in energy
  • Significant weight loss
  • Worrisome changes in hygiene
  • Notiecable cuts, bruises, or burns
  • Sleeping in class/other inappropriate times
  • Frequent intoxication

Emotional Signs

  • Inappropriate emotional outbursts
  • Direct statements indicating distress
  • Expressions of hopelessness or suicide
  • Behavior that draws peer concern
  • Exaggerated personality traits (more withdrawn or animated than usual)

Academic Signs

  • Deterioration in academic work
  • Disorganized or erratic performance
  • Repeated absences and missed assignments
  • Ranting or threatening emails
  • Continual seeking of special exceptions

*List created by the University of South Carolina; used with permission


We encourage you to alert Student Outreach & Support if you are concerned about a student's wellbeing. SOS will assess the situation, provide support, and make referrals as needed. This can include referral to ODU Cares by emailing oducares@odu.edu, sumitting a Care Referral to the Care Team, or providing students information about Counseling Services.




When to Seek Services

Student Outreach & Support can help students overcoming obstacles in their college career. You can visit SOS for a variety of reasons:

  • You need an administrative withdrawal
  • You need an extended absence notification
  • You need information on how to submit a student complaint
  • You need clarification on University procedures
  • You are a student in distress or who has recently experienced an unexpected tragedy
  • You need guidance resolving an issue you are having with your professor or academic department

Make an appointment or email oducares@odu.edu for more information.


SOS provides notification to instructors regarding a student's extended absence of a week or more due to extenuating circumstances (medical, death in immediate family, etc.). This notification serves as a verification of extenuating circumstances; all decisions about excused absences and make up work are made at the discretion of the instructor.



Extended Absence FAQ


  1. When do I need an absence notification?

    • Extended periods (at least one week) of physical or mental illness of the student (including hospitalization)-documented by a physician's statement or other medical support on official letterhead.
    • Extended periods (at least one week) of physical or mental illness of the student's immediate family member (including hospitalization) who is dependent upon the student for support-documented by physician's statement or other medical support on official letterhead.
    • Death of a student's immediate family member.
    • Involuntary changes in employment schedule or military orders.

  2. Will SOS write an absence note for me if I missed a class because of a headache or a brief illness?

    SOS will not provide an absence notification for brief, self-limiting illnesses. It is understood that brief self-limiting illnesses will be common during the normal course of the school year and may be cared for by the student him/herself. It is the student's responsibility to notify instructors of illnesses and make arrangements regarding missed assignments.


  3. What type of documentation do I need to include with my requests of absence?

    Doctor's note/letter, accident report, military orders, or obituary. Please note that any documentation provided is subject to verification. SOS will not accept medical documentation.


  4. How long do I have to request the notification after I am absent?

    You have five business days to request an absence notification. Requests will not be accepted after the last day of classes for the semester.


  5. Will the notification excuse my absence?

    No, an absence notification verifies the extenuating circumstances that caused a student to be absent. Your instructors will then determine whether to excuse the absence or not.


  6. What forms do I need to fill out to get an absence notification?

    You may complete an Extened Absence Notification form online by clicking here.


  7. What happens when I turn my documentation in?

    SOS will review the request and documentation and determine approval. If a request is approved, SOS will notify all professors that a request for an absence notification is being processed on the student's behalf. The student will be included on the notification and should then follow up with each instructor on specifics for each course.

    If a student's request or documentation is incomplete or insufficient to approve, SOS will contact the student for additional information, or in cases where a notification cannot be sent, to discuss other options available to the student.

  8. Can I submit an Extended Absence Notification request if I am taking online courses?

    Yes, if you have missed a week or more of your online course due to extenuating circumstance, you can submit an EAN request. While your absence may not be a physical absence from a classroom, you may have missed deadline or synchronous virtual class meetings.


Students may request an Administrative Withdrawal if they have experienced extenuating circumstances (medical, family financial hardship, death of an immediate family member). If approved, the student will be withdrawn from all courses within that semester.




Administrative Withdrawal FAQ


  1. Why might I need to submit an Administrative Withdrawal?

    The Administrative Withdrawals allows students to request withdrawal from a full semester of classes due to documented extenuating circumstances. Requests may be submitted after other withdrawal deadlines have passed for a semester, including after the semester has ended.

  2. What happens to my grades when I am approved for an Administrative Withdrawal?

    If your Administrative Withdrawal request is approved, all of your grades for the semester of request will become "W"s. Please note that all grades will be changed, including those courses you may have passed.

  3. Will anyone who sees my transcript know why I withdrew from that semester?

    No. The University only has one letter grade to denote Withdrawal. Your transcript will only show a "W".

  4. What deadlines do I need to meet to request an Administrative Withdrawal?

    Students have up to one year to submit a Request for Administrative Withdrawal. Please note that one year is from the start of the semester of request (for example, if your request is for Spring 2019, you have up until the start of the Spring 2020 semester to submit your request).

    If you would like to submit a request after the one year timeframe, you may do so, and your request will be reviewed by an appeals committee. In addition to the request form and supporting documentation, you will also need to submit a statement including convincing evidence explaining the student's inability to submit the request within one calendar year. You may attach any additional documentation supporting your statement for review.

  5. What type of documentation do I need to include with my request?

    The type of documentation needed to support your request will depend on the basis of your request. The following list provides examples of documentation that may be required. Please feel free to contact SOS if you have questions about your specific circumstances.

    • Student Medical/Mental Health Circumstances: a letter of support from student's healthcare provider indicating that, due to the student's medical diagnosis/circumstances/treatment during the semester, the provider supports withdrawal. Letters should be typed, dated, on letter head, and signed by the provider.
    • Medical/Mental Health Circumstances of an Immediate Family Member: a letter of support from the family members healthcare provider indicating that, due to the family members medical diagnosis/circumstances/treatment during the semester, and the student's role as a care provider, the provider supports withdrawal. Letters should be typed, dated, on letter head, and signed by the provider.
    • Death of an Immediate Family Member: obituary, copy of a funeral program listing the student as a family member, or death certificate.
    • Involuntary Changes in Employment or Military Requirements: an official letter from the student's employer or commanding officer outlining the specific changes in employment (change in schedule, relocation, increased workload) and potential impact on coursework. Letters should be typed, dated, on letter head, and signed by the employer/commanding officer.
  6. What happens when I submit my request?

    You can submit your request and documentation through the request form here. Once SOS has received your request and supporting documentation, your request will be reviewed. If approved, you will receive notice by email (your ODU student email account). If denied, you will receive notice by email. If your request requires additional information or documentation, SOS will contact you to discuss your request further.

  7. How long will it take to review my request?

    Once a completed request has been submitted (including request form and supporting documentation), your request may take up to two weeks for review and processing through SOS. Please note that once the notification of approval is sent, the Registrar's office may take an additional week to update your transcript.


Students who are experiencing unforeseen financial emergencies due to documented extenuating circumstances may apply for the Emergency Financial Grant. When awarded, funds are paid directly to third-party vendors. Grant funds are not able to be paid to students directly.



To apply, students must:

  • Be in good academic standing (undergraduate - 2.0 GPA or above/ graduate - 3.0 GPA or above),
  • Be meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress through Financial Aid
  • Be a degree-seeking student with plans to continue enrollment
  • Provide documentation of the extenuating circumstance.
  • Provide documentation of current bills or charges that need to be paid.

The grant is unable to award funds for medical bills or credit card bills.

ODU is a Caring Community

ODUCares is the commitment of the ODU community to provide students with customized support to ensure their success.

The Care Team provides a university-wide system of care and support for students who experience an unexpected crisis or are in distress.

The Care Team's role is to determine effective strategies for addressing concerns and connecting students with the appropriate resources.




Care Team Members

• Counseling Services

• Educational Accessibility

• ODU Police Department

• Student Conduct & Academic Integrity

• University Chaplains Association

• Academic Enhancement

• Housing & Residence Life

• Student Health Services

• Student Outreach & Support

• Women's Center


  If you need to report an emergency, call the Old Dominion University Police at 757-683-4000, or dial 911.