Columbia Student Well-Being Survey

The Report on the 2018 Columbia Student Well-Being Survey is designed to inform all members of our community - including students, faculty and staff - and to guide and inspire collective efforts to enhance the experience of every Columbia student.

Key Facts About the Columbia Student Well-Being Survey:

  • The Student Well-Being Survey was first conducted in Spring 2018; the next one will be in Spring 2020.
  • The Survey has three parts: 1. Connection and Belonging; 2. Mental Health and Wellness; 3. Sexual Respect and Gender-Based Misconduct
  • The overall participation rate in 2018 ranged from 22-51% of students, depending on the school, with an average of 28% (8,300 students).
  • The Survey, together with other campus research, helps to identify student strengths and needs, with the goal of continually supporting our community. 

Key Takeaways from the Report on the 2018 Columbia Student Well-Being Survey:


Connection and Belonging

Friendships, interactions with faculty, and academic classes and projects all play a significant role in helping students feel connected and a part of the Columbia community (see pp. 8-10). Many students are also aware and make use of campus resources that support their well-being (p. 10). At the same time, there continue to be real concerns and needs, as the data show (pp. 10-11). This will guide additional efforts to support all students in their sense of connection and belonging. 

Mental Health and Wellness 

The percentage of Columbia students who reported experiencing mental health and wellness challenges, including sleep difficulties (p. 14) and challenges with focusing and concentration (p. 14), as well as heightened symptoms of anxiety (p. 15) and depression (p. 15), is consistent with national data. A small percentage of this population is at high-risk for significant mental health challenges, which is also consistent with national trends. This underscores the need for additional research and support in this area. At the same time, students generally scored high on the "flourishing scale" (p. 17), a validated measure of psycho-social well-being. 

Sexual Respect and Gender-Based Misconduct

The vast majority of Columbia students have knowledge of essential information related to consent and gender-based misconduct and are aware of the resources available to them (pp. 18-20). About a quarter of students reported having experienced some form of gender-based misconduct prior to coming to Columbia (p. 20); this is important because research shows that prior experience of sexual assault is a risk factor for future occurrences. The percentage of students who reported experiencing incidents of gender-based misconduct at Columbia is low (pp. 21-23), relative to national data, but still requires ongoing attention.

Key Initiatives Prompted or Supported by the 2018 Student Well-Being Survey Findings:

  • Creating Columbia Welcome, a program to welcome new and returning students to campus during the first two weeks of the fall semester. 
  • Extending Wellness Days throughout the year to provide more opportunities to take a break, practice self-care and to promote University-wide student resources. 
  • Investing in various resources to support student financial well-being, including the Food Pantry at Columbia and, a financial wellness and literacy platform that's free for all students and helps them budget, manage student loans and learn about all aspects of personal finance. 
  • Expanding the Graduate Initiative for Inclusion and Engagement to provide a new Graduate Welcome event, success workshops, hangouts and our signature Diversity, Dialogue, and Dinner series. 
  • Hosting more Campus Conversations events for students - with opportunities to connect across differences about issues of importance. 
  • Growing the Sexual Respect Ambassador program to support greater student engagement within the Sexual Respect and Community Citizenship Initiative. 
  • Offering a new required briefing on sexual harassment for all faculty and staff to create an environment free from discrimination and harassment. 
  • Welcoming an inaugural Vice President of Student Affairs in the Office of University Life, a position created to work holistically to improve student well-being and the student experience across the University. 

Want to be more involved?

Student well-being is a collective effort. Here is an easy path to get started for students, faculty and staff: 


1. Become a Student Ambassador and promote the 2020 Well-Being Survey! You can make a difference and enhance campus life for students across the University. Sign-up to help promote the 2020 Well-Being Survey

2. Join a student organization or initiative in your school.

3. Engage in peer education programs and wellness initiatives in your school.

4. Apply for a University Life Wellness Mini-Grant and attend a Wellness Days event.

5. Get involved with the University Life Events Council or one of our many other student engagement opportunities.  


Faculty and Staff  

1. Download the Columbia University Life app or use the University Life website for easy access to support resources you can share with students.

2. Work with University Life on initiatives and planning for the 2020 Student Well-Being Survey. Please contact us at

Survey partners

The 2018 Student Well-Being Survey could not have been successful without your participation, the contributions of our Student Ambassadors, and the support from our Campus partners which include: 

  • Columbia Health
  • Columbia University Irving Medical Center Student Health Service
  • Campus Services
  • Columbia Libraries
  • University Registrar
  • Student Financial Services
  • Columbia Athletics
  • International Students and Scholars Office
  • Columbia College
  • Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
  • School of General Studies
  • Columbia Business School
  • College of Dental Medicine
  • Columbia Journalism School
  • Columbia Law School
  • Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
  • Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
  • Mailman School of Public Health
  • School of the Arts
  • School of International and Public Affairs
  • School of Nursing
  • Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • School of Professional Studies
  • School of Social Work