Wellness & Academic Success

Stay Well

In addition to a quality education, SF State is committed to providing students with access to health and safety services. Please find a list of such services below:

Division of Campus Safety

The University Police Department is a full-service Police Department providing a range of services and programs to make SFSU a safe place to work, learn and live.

Campus Police can be reached at:


(415) 338-7200

In case of EMERGENCY:

Landline or campus phone: 911 

Cell phone: 911 or (415) 338 -2222 

Counseling & Psychological Services Center (CAPS)

The licensed counselors and faculty at Counseling & Psychological Services include marriage and family therapists, psychologists, and clinical social workers, all trained to work with San Francisco State's multicultural student body. This is not a walk-in clinic, so an appointment is required.

The SAFE Place

The SAFE Place provides crisis intervention, advocacy, and confidential Title IX support for survivors dealing with past or recent incidents of sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, sexual harassment, and/or stalking. No appointment is required.

Health Promotion & Wellness (HPW)

HPW provides health education to the SF State community through campus health initiatives and programming. Focus areas include awareness about alcohol and tobacco use, mental health, nutrition, men's health, sexual health and sexual violence prevention.

Student Health Services (SHS)

Student Health Services provides basic health care, promotes health awareness, and educates students about preventive care, disease management, and therapeutic choices. They also provide pharmacy, immunization, and lab services. This is not a walk-in clinic, so an appointment is required.

Dean of Student Life

The Division of Student Life (DSL) team at SF State facilitates student-centered learning through personal, community, and academic engagement, culminating in a transformative experience.

Dean-On-Call Program

The Dean-On-Call Program provides real-time support to students who may be experiencing difficulties in navigating the university environment. Each administrator comes with a wealth of professional knowledge and experience and engages in ongoing training to continue to provide the best service to students who are looking for support and guidance.

Title IX (“nine”) is a federal civil rights law that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance, such as universities. This law requires SF State to protect all students in the event of sexual discrimination and harassment.

International students from various cultural backgrounds have different ideas and understandings about what is meant by “discrimination based on sex.

To understand more about how this topic is interpreted at SF State, new students must complete an online sexual violence prevention training called Not Anymore. This training must be completed during the first semester at SF State.  

Title IX and SF State Obligations

In addition to understanding what Title IX is, students should know how Title IX is implemented at SF State, as well as the status of faculty and staff as “mandatory reporters”.

  • Under Title IX, SF State is obligated to protect students in the event that they or someone they know is sexually assaulted or harassed. 
  • Title IX applies to sex-based discrimination of anyone, regardless of gender identity or perception of gender identity. This means that students are protected under Title IX whether they are male, female, or gender non-conforming.
  • SF State faculty and staff are “mandatory reporters.” This means that, as student advisors, if we lear about incidents of discrimination or harassment involving students, we are required to report this incident to the Title IX office at SF State. All SF State staff on campus are mandatory reporters except for counselors at the SAFE Place.*
  • Though they are not mandatory reporters, students may also report incidents to Title IX using the online Title IX/DHR Incident Reporting Form.

*If a student wants to talk about an incident, but doesn’t want to report to Title IX immediately, we recommend that they speak to a counselor at the SAFE Place at the Counseling and Psychological Services.  Unlike the mandatory reporters on campus, the SAFE place consular is not required to report to the Title IX office. 

Students may choose to access academic accommodations such as withdrawing from classes and they can file a Reduced Course Load

Title IX and Student Status in the U.S.

Students are NOT obligated to reveal a Title IX-related incident to any immigration authority such as:

  • The visa officers in the U.S. Embassies
  • The port of entry officers at the airport
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudicators

Additional Resources

Culture Shock

Living in a culture that is different can be both an exciting adventure and a challenging process. It is common for international students to go through a period of cultural adjustment during their stay in the United States. This adjustment often includes “culture shock”.  

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, culture shock is “the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone who is suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.” It is important for students to recognize the symptoms of culture shock and know how to cope with it in order to make the most of their SF State experience.  

Living in a new culture requires learning a new set of cultural patterns and behaviors. This process can be challenging and sometimes uncomfortable.  

It may be helpful to think of cultural adjustment as a three-stage process (Janet and Milton Bennett, 1999):

Stage 1 - Culture Surprise

"Culture surprise" usually occurs during the first few days of an international student’s visit as they initially become aware of superficial differences.  

Examples: people dress differently, signs are in a different language, nonverbal behaviors are different. 

Stage 2 - Culture Stress

"Culture stress" is a fairly short-term response to "stimulus overload." This occurs when an international student begins to respond to the behavior of the "new" culture.  

Examples: trying to drive a car, doing their own shopping, hearing comments about themselves.  

Stage 3 - Culture Shock

"Culture shock" is a fairly short-term response to "stimulus overload." This occurs when an international student begins to respond to the behavior of the "new" culture and experience symptoms such as:  

  • Anxiety, crying a lot
  • Irritability, hopelessness
  • Homesickness, distrust of hosts
  • Depression, withdrawal
  • Fatigue, stereotyping
  • Boredom, self-doubt
  • Avoiding contact with host nationals, difficulty studying effectively

Culture shock is natural and quite common, so there is no need to be ashamed if international students experience it during their time at SF State. However, when culture shock gets out of hand, it can cause significant distress. It is important to recognize the symptoms of culture shock so they can be better prepared for it and develop healthy coping strategies.  

Tip No.1: Be Open-minded

Don’t assume that students have figured everything out after only a short time in a new place. Societies are complex, and the reasons for certain cultural practices are not always obvious to an outside observer. Therefore, it is helpful to be open-minded and pay close attention to the differences they observe. Some of the customs and rules of etiquette practiced in the U.S. might conflict with those with which they are familiar. However, that does not mean they are automatically better or worse. After some time, they may even find these differences quite interesting.  

Tip No.2: Remember Non-Academic Goals 

Did international students come to SF State to improve their English? Explore California? Learn to surf? If so, embrace it! By focusing on interests outside of school (to be clear, they should also focus on school), students will find it easier to connect with others, and focusing on their passions will help turn culture shock into culture curiosity.  

For example, even if their English is not perfect, others will appreciate their efforts. International students are encouraged to try chatting with classmates if they have a question, or learn about the U.S. and improve their English at the same time by listening to National Public Radio at San Francisco Bay Area's  local public radio station KQED. Good English ability will enhance their learning experience in the U.S.  

Tip No.3: Try New Things!

It’s important to maintain contact with friends and family at home, but make time to live in the moment and meet new people as well.

To help international students with this, consider a visit to the SF State Dean of Student’s website to learn what kind of campus activities are available.  

There are plenty of off-campus community activities available.  Love animals?  Volunteer at the SF Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).  Love film?  Become a volunteer translator at the SF International Film Festival.  

Extracurricular activities will help them get the most out of student life. If they feel uncomfortable joining an activity by themselves, they should ask a friend to join them.

Tip No.4: Ask for Help

If international students find the symptoms of culture shock are not fading with time or are making it difficult for them to accomplish everyday tasks such as keeping themselves clean and attending class, it is a good idea to ask for help.  

At SF State, the counselors at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) will help them work through some of the negative feelings they are experiencing. They even offer services in languages besides English (Farsi, Korean, Mandarin, and Spanish) upon request. The service is free and confidential to all enrolled SF State students.  

Don’t wait until the last minute. If they are feeling down because of culture shock, they should make an appointment with CAPS today!  

Tip No.5: Practice Self-Kindness

Moving to a new country is always difficult, and it is natural that it will take time to adjust.  International students should be kind and patient with themselves, take breaks when they need to, and forgive themselves if they make a mistake.  

The following culture shock video was produced by the officers at the International Education Exchange Council (IEEC).  IEEC is an official student organization that maintains a goal of encouraging international education, student exchange, study abroad, and the sharing of cultures between international and domestic students. Join IEEC and meet U.S. and international friends by following them on Instagram.

Academic Success

University Advising Center (UAC)

UAC provides general education (GE) academic advising, non-major graduation requirements, university academic policy and procedures, support in selecting a major, graduation timeline checks, and much more.

Advising Hub

There are six academic colleges at SF State - Business (COB), Graduate College of Education (GCOC), Ethnic Studies, Health & Social Sciences (CHSS), Liberal & Creative Arts (LAC), and Science & Engineering (COSE).  Each academic college has its own college resource centers. Undergraduate students can access college’s resource center using the Undergraduate Students Advising Hub.  Graduate students should visit the Division of Graduate Studies' Graduate Coordinator page for similar information.

Tutoring and Academic Support Center (TASC)

TASC tutors can assist students in completing assignments as they strengthen their overall academic skills. One-on-one and small group tutoring are available and can be tailored to meet the student or students’ unique needs and learning styles. TASC exists to support students in their goal of succeeding at SF State. 

Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC)

DPRC works with students and employees with disabilities to ensure all aspects of life on campus are accessible. DPRC offers many accommodation services, including assistive technology, flexibility with attendance and/or deadlines, sign language interpreting services,  note-taking assistance, on-campus shuttle services, orientation and mobility training, and more.

J Paul Leonard Library

The J. Paul Leonard Library is located on the Ground through the 4th Floors of the Library Building. The library’s study space and computers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Students can use their SF State IDs to check out books and laptops, access printing services, and more.

SF State Experimental College (EXCO)

EXCO fosters self-empowerment by promoting student-run, co-learning environments driven by critical, non-authoritarian, intersectional pedagogy; resistance to white supremacy; and, caring for the community. (Communication and Peer Counseling Skills, Africa’s Longest Struggle for Liberation and Self-determination, Conspiracies! Overtly Convert)


"Integrity” is defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles”.  “Academic Integrity” means "being honest in an academic setting".  Academic integrity is a complex issue in many U.S. colleges and universities.  We understand that every country has its own ideas about cheating and borrowing other people’s work. However, at SF State, it is in best interest to obey the rules set by the Office of Student Conduct in order to successfully achieve academic goals. 

"As an international student, it is important to understand the concept of academic integrity in the U.S. to ensure academic success. “

Types of Academic Dishonesty

Behaviors such as paying/asking someone else to write a paper or giving friends iLearn access in order to complete assignments on their behalf is considered dishonest and unacceptable at SF State. 

When logging in to iLearn, students have an agreement with SF State that they will do their homework and take exams without any assistance from other people.  Many experienced instructors and professors can easily tell if their homework is done by someone else.  If students participate in such dishonest behavior, they could receive an “F” (“Failed”) grade for the class and/or further disciplinary actions.  

In addition to the example above, there are other types of academic dishonesty includes:

  • Cheating on an exam
  • Copying other students’ answers on tests and homework
  • Helping other students to cheat on their exams
  • Inventing fake data 
  • Plagiarism: taking the words, work, and ideas from other people and submitting them as the student’s own work.  

How to Avoid Plagiarism? 

We recommend the following two resources:

Bookmark these SF State resources

Each academic department may have their own plagiarism policy.  For example, the Department of Computer Science has a Cheating and Plagiarism Policy and the Department of Political Science has its own Department Policy on Plagiarism.  Students may reach out to their major department and find out if their major has specific policies.  

U.S. Classroom Culture

This short video was created by an F-1 international graduate student at SF State. The video paints a picture of what international students may expect in U.S classrooms, provides tips on how to communicate with their professors, and highlights the different cultural and academic processes to help them achieve success in the U.S. learning environment. 

Appropriate communication is essential for establishing positive relationships.

Email Etiquette

The United States has a reputation for informal communication styles, but it is still important that written communication between students and SF State faculty and staff is respectful. Additionally, by being polite and providing adequate information, they will be able to receive service more quickly.   

Please see this presentation about email communication for additional information: Email communication at SF State by SF State Exchange (prezi.com)

Last updated: January 2024

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