Building Your Academic Support System

Harvard has many resources to support you through your academic journey. If you need help figuring out how to navigate these resources or understanding their differences, schedule a meeting with an ARC academic coach.

Below is an overview of some of the resources that are here to help you and the kinds of services they offer.  

Academic Resource Center (ARC)

The ARC is here to provide academic resources for all Harvard College students throughout their Harvard journey – from the excitement of matriculation to the celebration of graduation. The ARC provides academic coaching, accountability hours, peer tutoring, and group workshops.

When should I go to the ARC?

Students come to the ARC at many different points during their time at Harvard and for many different reasons. Some students come at the start of every semester to meet with an academic coach to sort out their schedule or to attend a workshop on scheduling the semester. Other students sign up to meet with a peer tutor before an assessment to review practice problems and then meet again after the assessment to go over the results. Still other students come to the ARC when they feel like they aren’t getting the most out of their academic experience at Harvard. This can be because they've gotten some specific feedback that they could use some academic support (e.g., a low grade, a referral from a resident dean, a suggestion from an instructor) or just because they feel like they'd like to get more out of their time at Harvard than they are at the moment. 

And, if we’re not the right office to help you, we’ll point you in the right direction so you can find the people who are.

Disability Access Office (DAO)

The DAO helps students get course accommodations for visible and invisible disabilities, including temporary conditions like concussions.

When should I go to the DAO?

When you have a diagnosis for a condition, disease, or disability that could affect your ability to access course materials or assessments. Accommodations can’t be retroactively implemented, so make sure you reach out to DAO early, just in case you run into problems. Please note that the DAO does not assess students; instead it provides guidelines for how students can register a diagnosis from a medical professional. Also the DAO does not want documentation (or lack thereof) to be a barrier to connecting with students, so you should feel welcome to contact the DAO even if you do not currently have documentation.

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Advising Programs Office (APO)

The advising system is there to help students navigate the full range of curricular and co-curricular opportunities available at Harvard. Before choosing their concentrations, students work with first-year advisers, sophomore advisers, and peer advising fellows (PAFs).

When should I go to the APO?

The Advising Program Office (APO) staff as well as your academic advisers (first-year advisers, sophomore advisers, concentration advisers) and larger advising network (PAFs, Proctors, Resident Deans, House Tutors) can talk to you about your academic and extracurricular goals and help you figure out how to achieve them at Harvard. The APO and your advising network offer you space to talk about your developing interests and goals in addition to providing guidance on selecting your courses.  

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Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

Counseling and Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and Peer Counseling are available to help students experiencing any measure of distress in their lives and to answer questions or concerns around mental health. Their services include one-on-one counseling and group workshops.

When should I go to CAMHS or Peer Counseling?

As soon as you need it or even preventatively. Mental health issues can show up in subtle ways at first, so try to keep your lines of communication open and check in with yourself frequently. 

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Office of Career Services

The Office of Career Services helps students uncover their interests and learn how to connect with people and information. OCS supports students seeking opportunities for summer as well as post-graduation.

When should I go to OCS?

When you have a career or internship-related question, the OCS has many resources to help you find the answer and to explore options that you might not have considered. The ARC, APO, and OCS can all help you develop your educational and professional goals in different ways, so you might try connecting with all three. Using a variety of academic support services is especially helpful if you’re unsure how to set priorities for your time and energies while at Harvard. 

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Professors, Lecturers, Preceptors, and Teaching Fellows/Assistants

When should I go to a course’s teaching staff?

When you have specific questions about the material or want to make personal connections with the people who are teaching you, you should feel welcome to contact them. Pay attention to the stated support structures for your courses, including office hours, questions centers, and review sessions. To complement support from course staff, consider academic coaching, peer tutoring, workshops, or accountability hours offered by the Academic Resource Center.

Residential Staff (Yard, Houses, and Dudley Community)

Whether you're in the Yard, a House, or the Dudley Community, you have an extensive residential support system. Resident Deans oversee the academic and overall wellbeing of students, and you can contact your Resident Dean's office to set up an appointment. First-year students can also turn to their Proctors as well as Peer Advising Fellows (PAFs).  Upper-level students in the Houses and Dudley Community can turn to their Tutors.  Academic Coordinators can also be a support for any questions about routine academic matters.

When should I seek the support of residential staff? 

You can reach out whenever you're seeking support with issues relating to your academics or overall wellbeing. Residential staff can assist you and also help point you to other specific campus resources. Note that the First-Year Experience Office, House Offices, and the Dudley Community Office are open during weekday business hours. For support or concerns after hours, you can reach out to your Proctor or Tutor.

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Also check out the Dean of Students Office's Get Support webpage for additional information on support for academics, health and wellness, social and community connection, career advising, and more.


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