Here to Help You

Welcome to the Kalamazoo College Counseling Center!

College can be stressful and we are here to help you! Many students experience a wide range of emotions during their college experience, including excitement, sadness, homesickness, grief, identity concerns, and stress, and sometimes all at the same time.

The Kalamazoo College Counseling Center offers a wide range of services including individual and group counseling, daily walk-in counseling, crisis intervention, as well as outreach programming. Please learn more about our services by exploring our website.

Emergency Services

Crisis Phone Lines

There are a number of other crisis phone and text lines that offer crisis intervention to students experiencing mental health issues and emergencies.

Walk-In Crisis Hour

Walk-In Hour

Monday – Friday 2 – 3:00 p.m.

The Walk-In Hour is for crisis situations including: thoughts of hurting yourself or others or seeing or, hearing things that other people cannot see or hear. It may also include an emotional distressing situation that is causing significant impairment in your ability to: attend classes, complete assignments, sleep and/or eat.

To access this service, please ring the white doorbell, which is located on the table across from the waiting room and wait for a counselor to assist you.

After Hours Emergencies

If you are in crisis and need to be seen at any other time during business hours, please go to the Health Center next door and let the front office staff know that you need to speak to a counselor right away.

If it is outside of office hours, please call campus safety at 269.337.7321 or let your Resident Assistant know you need to speak to the on-call counselor.

Center Hours

Hours: Mon – Fri 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: 1st floor of Hicks Center – West next to the Health Center.

Contact: Patricia Jorgenson at Patricia.Jorgenson@kzoo.edu or 269.337.7348

Individual Counseling

To start individual counseling, please visit the Counseling Center and complete intake forms located on the iPads in the lobby.

A clinician will email you within 48 hours to set up an initial appointment. If you are unable to visit the Center to complete intake forms, please email Patricia Jorgenson at Patricia.Jorgenson@kzoo.edu.

Walk-In Hour

Walk-In Hour

Monday – Friday 2 – 3:00 p.m.

The Walk-In Hour is for crisis situations including: thoughts of hurting yourself or others or seeing or, hearing things that other people cannot see or hear. It may also include an emotional distressing situation that is causing significant impairment in your ability to: attend classes, complete assignments, sleep and/or eat.

To access this service, please ring the white doorbell, which is located on the table across from the waiting room and wait for a counselor to assist you.

Messages from the Counseling Center

Letters to Classes

Dear First Years…

For most students the first year at Kalamazoo College is an exciting and challenging time, filled with new experiences, ideas, viewpoints and concerns. Many students find that, in order to adapt effectively to college life and its demands, they need to develop new ways of coping, academically, interpersonally, and personally. To learn more about these coping skills, please visit our resources page.

Before you read about specific concerns, we want you to know that we’re aware of both how wonderful and how difficult the first year at K can be. The personal growth that students experience is often quite amazing—but not always easy or smooth. First year students frequently report that they feel stuck in the process of adapting to college life. We believe that everyone needs help getting “unstuck” at times. That help can make the difference between reaching your educational goal and dropping out of college. We hope you’ll come to the Counseling Center when you feel stuck and your usual ways of getting “unstuck” aren’t working as well as they have in the past. We also hope you’ll come to the forums we’re offering to first year students to talk more about arriving at K. Hopefully, they’ll give you a chance to think through whatever issues this major life transition brings to you.

-The Counseling Center Staff

Dear Sophomores…

“The summer before you arrived at K, you received lots of information about coming to school and the process of adapting to college life. Next year, if you decide to go on Study Abroad, you will again receive information about the process of adapting to a new country. In both cases, we hope that the
information is useful in giving you an idea of what to expect – both the highs and the lows. For most of us, knowing something about the lows is particularly helpful, because it lets us anticipate how we might respond and realize that these are “normal” difficulties…”

Please read the rest of your sophomore letter and review the additional resources.

Dear Juniors…

On Returning from Study Abroad

By Dr. Pat Ponto

The focus of this article is the very important annual spring transition (“a natural process of disorientation and reorientation that marks the turning point of a path of growth”) at K, the return of the juniors who have been away. What can you expect when you return from study abroad?

There are many challenges in the process of returning. Four of the clearest are: facing the second part of the W curve, realizing that many important people may not understand fully the experience of living abroad, finding an effective, post-study abroad way of being at K, and planning your SIP.

The W curve suggests that the first couple of weeks back should be pretty exciting and fun (seeing your friends and hearing their stories, learning what’s happened on campus this year, checking out Hicks, meeting the first years), but by mid-term time, you are likely to feel more dissatisfied with K and wish you were still away. The fact that this process is normal does not make it easy. Do remember, though, that the W curve predicts that by the end of the quarter you will integrate your study abroad experience with your on-campus life.

Two of the frequent complaints of returning students are that they have more stories to tell and more pictures to show about life abroad than people want to hear or see, and that others who have not had a similar experience really cannot relate to all that they’ve learned and how they’ve changed. These realizations are hard and do cause frustration and at least temporary distance from those who are not as interested. The good news is that you are not alone, you know other returnees – and, hopefully, you can discuss these frustrations with each other — and also share your stories, pictures, and changes.

Third, many students report that it’s tough to come back to the K way of doing life. For some, the pace here seems unhealthy; for others, grades and accomplishment don’t seem as important; for still others, the consumerism of the U.S. has become toxic. It’s a struggle to know that you’ve changed and your values have been transformed, but the College is still much the same. Expectations for academic work will still be rigorous. Time will be at a premium. The good news is that you will have a broader perspective now and, hopefully, be clearer about what really matters to you.

Last, the push to figure out a SIP, while taking three classes is a struggle for many recent returnees. Some students are still away psychologically for the first weeks of the quarter. Taking three classes is usually plenty of challenge, but the SIP also has to be planned. For those of you who haven’t been thinking about your senior project, this quarter can feel like a collision between study abroad and K. Please remember, many students have been in your shoes and have done well. Take a deep breath and go to see your advisor.

Welcome back! We hope this turning point leads to satisfying new growth.

Dear Seniors…

Our experience tells us that senior year at K is a particularly challenging time. There are many demands – SIPs, Comps, tough classes in your major, decisions about the next step in your life — and significant stress associated with each. A recent focus group of seniors reported that the SIP seems to be the source of the greatest stress.

Those seniors indicated that the students who come back from study abroad junior spring often struggle with re-adjusting to life in the U.S., re-integrating into the K community and culture, and planning effectively for their SIPs. Those seniors recommend that any “jump” you can get on your SIP earlier than junior spring is very helpful.

After listening to the focus discussions, the conveners of the focus group concluded that seniors would be in a better position if they viewed the SIP as a learning process, not the culmination of all of their academic effort at K. Engaging in the process and learning from mistakes is as important, if not more, than the eventual product. The process allows you to develop your academic skills – they advise that you do so in a way that is as healthy emotionally as possible.

The conveners also suggested that we get bracelets that read “I am not my SIP” to give to seniors – we plan to do so. They emphasized that it’s important to have realistic, even moderate, expectations of the SIP experience and to feel good about yourself for engaging in this first major (as in huge) independent project.

The seniors reported that the SIP experience is tough on friendship groups, especially with housemates. People feel quite vulnerable about their SIPs and how far they are in completing their work and tend to compare themselves with others’ progress, and withdraw, get irritable, or feel down. The seniors emphasized the importance of communicating as clearly as you can to your housemates about what you need at any point in the process and to make sure you get enough sleep!

SIP advisors and other students in your major can provide invaluable help. It’s very important to rope your advisor in early in the process and try to develop a clear contract or plan for your SIP work. A plan that is based on realistic deadlines for “chunks” of work and that involves regular meetings (weekly, if possible) with your SIP advisor makes a significant difference.

The conveners hoped we could help students “develop solidarity among those struggling.” The focus group members reported that peer support and editing helps a great deal. They suggested that we form SIP learning groups that would serve both functions.

The conveners also hoped that we would advise you to go to the Counseling Center when you’re blocked, stuck, fearful about your SIP and your usual ways to approach academic work are not being effective.

The last advice of the seniors was: “Seek out resources. Hold yourself accountable. Don’t freak out.” The vast majority of seniors do finish their SIPs – the main question is how hard the process is.

Another major part of senior year is figuring out what you’ll do after graduation. For many students, taking a year off to sort through and integrate all of their experiences is the most reasonable next step. As exciting as it is to graduate from college, we know that there is also a lot of stress involved. There is the stress of finishing up, of preparing to leave your friends and other important people at K,
and of relocating to do whatever is next. The W Curve that we focused on for Study Abroad may also be useful.

Many students report knowing that they have a lot of feelings about themselves, graduation, their time here, their work, their friends, and their experiences. It is a lot to integrate. As you move toward that process, please touch your feelings lightly. Let yourself soften to them as you observe or recall them. Trust that your experiences here will get clearer, but it takes time. Be patient with yourself.

Explore other Counseling Center Resources