Want to withdraw from college but parents won't let me

I’m a junior at an Ivy who is dealing with extreme depression and anxiety. It feels like there’s no way I’ll be successful for this semester. However, my very strict tiger parents don’t “believe in anxiety and depression” and won’t let me withdraw from this semester/take a leave of absence for the following reasons:

  1. “It’ll be a giant waste of our money – one whole semester’s worth of tuition down the drain.”
  2. “Your mental health issues are just you being lazy, and if you try harder, you can get great grades for this semester.”
  3. “It’s pathetic that you’re at an Ivy and want to take a leave of absence. Do you know how so many kids would kill to be in your position?”

I can’t focus enough to study for my upcoming midterms. I feel behind in all of my classes. I couldn’t go to class this week because I’ve been sleeping 15-20 hours/day. I feel like I’m drowning and there’s no way out.

Can you seek out counseling services at the college?


Please call you student’s health services today and tell them exactly what you wrote in this message - they can talk with you and set up an appointments to offer you support both with talk therapy and a med - if needed. You do not need your parent’s approval or permission to access these services or even outside services. I am so sorry you are feeling so sad and unable to study. Please advocate for yourself- - I know it is hard when you are feeling so down and you will feel better and asking for help is a good start. Please take care of yourself first ! I would also advise you to write all your professors - it may be easier vs talking in person and request extensions and additional assistance. You are very capable and can do this!


I’m so sorry that you are going through this.

Please make an appointment to see a mental health professional NOW, or, at very latest tomorrow. I am not a professional, but I am intimately familiar with depression, and what you are experiences sound very much like pretty serious depression.

In all honesty, I will have to say that your parents either don’t have your best interest in mind, or are still sold on the outdated idea that mental health is not important unless you have a full blown psychosis, and then it’s something shameful.

In either case, their opinions no longer matter - your health should be your primary focus.

So see a mental health professional ASAP (I mean in the next day or so), and see what they tell you to do.

Forget about school, and forget about your parents feelings and opinions. You need to take care of your mental health first.

So So please, please, please, see a mental health professional as soon as you can. Get healthy, and then see where you can go from there.


Forgot to mention that I’m currently in counseling services through my school. However, my school’s counseling services aren’t that great — I can only book an appointment every two weeks with my therapist, and my therapist also told me it’ll take at least a month (if not more) before a psychiatrist can give me meds.

I’m so sorry you are going through this. I have found the mental health options lacking at colleges, unfortunately. I have one currently struggling with some issues, if he asked to withdraw we’d help him with the process (I’ve already researched it, we’ve had to pick him up twice already at odd times). Definitely look into steps needed to officially withdraw. Your health is more important than a bad semester.


I still advise you to contact them today and update them on your mental state - please don’t wait. Also, they should be able to prescribe meds faster, but tend to wait to make sure it is not a temporary bump. This does not sound temporary and will encourage you again to be very proactive for your health to the point of demanding assistance. You did a great first step by posting here and getting your thoughts down - please now communicate that to the school.


This happens to many people, and they get through it. Depression is horrible, but please realize that there will be better times ahead. It gets better, I promise you.

You absolutely do need to take a leave of absence, for health reasons. I am sorry that your parents are not being supportive. It’s good that you understand that their failure to acknowledge your depression can be a cultural issue. It’s very common; I’ve even seen it in physician parents who absolutely would recognize and recommend treatment for their patients with depression, but just cannot see that their child is having it, and needs help.

I’m sorry that counseling services through your school are so bad. Your therapist is flat out wrong. You need to do an end-run around this. You can get access to medication and other help by going for a medical evaluation at student health - say you’re extremely tired, sleeping 16 hours a day, and think you might have mono, in order to get the appointment, then when you’re in, reveal the depression, and how bad things are. They’ll get you in with psychiatry asap. Hopefully, they’ll also take a good history and do some directed bloodwork, because sometimes physical issues can be the cause of the depression - things like hypothyroidism, severe anemia, and more - these are the purview of the internist or adolescent med doctor. Some of the antidepressants do kick in more quickly than others - hopefully you can discuss this with the psychiatrist. It’s also very common that the primary doc will start you on an antidepressant right away.

I would also get an appointment with disability services, because you are possibly going to need accommodations to finish up the semester, if at all possible - things like being able to turn in work late, retake exams, switch into online sections and then take an incomplete, and finish them up online later on.

Is there any trusted friend who can help you with getting these appointments? It’s so hard to fight the battle to get help, when you’re having major depression.

You need help, and right away. Please call for an emergency appointment at student health now, or first thing tomorrow morning. Also, is there anyone else you can call for support right now? A sibling? A trusted friend? You need to reach out for support. You cannot handle this on your own.


First thing I would do is call the counseling services ASAP and tell them things have gotten worse and that you demand more treatment and access the psychiatrist now. I know it’s hard but please make these demands.

Then please email each professor and advise them about how much you are struggling, do not be afraid to be vulnerable. Let them also know you have been receiving counseling services so they can see you are doing everything in you can right now to get help. They can work with you to give you extensions. Let them also know the psychiatrist has not been able to see you yet.


I have no expertise in this area and I’ve never suffered from depression. I’m just a dad.

Still, I wanted to post and say I’m proud of you.

You have taken the initiative to find resources on your campus and you have reached out here. You are standing up for yourself, and that can be so hard.

You are fighting hard in this battle, and you will win the war. Better days are ahead for you, and you will have earned them.


If you’re unable to get more help from health services at your university, and feel that things are getting worse, you can go to the nearest hospital for evaluation. If you do withdraw from school, please make sure to get a medical withdrawal so you can return when you feel healthy enough to do so without a hit to your gpa. Get well - school will always be there.


I want to believe this, but I know it’s not true – my parents told me they wouldn’t pay for anything beyond four more semesters of college. So if I withdraw, I have to pay for that missing semester… which is a TON of money :frowning:

You’re young so it’s understandable for you to lack perspective. But this is a universal truth: health is more important than money. The most important thing for you right now is to get your health on track. @parentologist gave you a step-by-step plan to get you started. If you can’t get into your university’s health center tomorrow go to your local Urgent Care facility. I grew up with a close family member that was completely disabled by mental illness. Please try to get professional help as soon as you can. Your parents will change their tune once they realize the severity of the situation (or at least I hope they will, call me an optimist). Sorry to sound so alarmist but I think you are the one sounding the alarm and I’m amplifying its signal.

Please be well. Please get well.


(edited to remove question about semesters, saw you are a junior)

In any case, you’ll worry about that last semester when you get to it. For all you know, you get well this year, find a major you love, develop skills, continue doing super well, get a paid internship … and make enough money to pay for most of it. Or you could withdraw the freshman loan if you haven’t already, and “bank it” in planning for that time (the freshman loan is $5,500 and guaranteed for all freshmen who apply during the year).

The emergency is going to your health service immediately, put a jacket on your pajamas if necessary, following what @parentologist recommended.
hugs to you :palms_up_together: :hugs: :hugs: :hugs: :hugs:


Getting well is the most important thing right now. If your parents insist they will not pay for the last semester you can take out a loan and work - it can be figured out. If your health continues to spiral and you aren’t passing classes you will be in a much worse place than taking a medical withdrawal now to preserve your gpa. Please go get help and worry about your parents reaction later. You and your mental health are all that matter right now.


OP wrote: “I’m a junior at an Ivy…”

Because, presumably,you have been a student at this Ivy for more than 2 full academic years, it is important to know whether or not this condition (excessive sleeping, feelings of depression & anxiety) are new or whether you have experienced this before.


OP, do you have an update today? Please check in with us!


I have, but it wasn’t as severe as this time.

Got an expedited appointment with a psychiatrist today, who said that I might be eligible for disability services at my school and scheduled an appointment for next week. Said he was reluctant to prescribe meds since he’s only had one session with em.


Yeah! You made the first step. Please also make appointment with an internist to address your concerns. Sending you all the best!