College can be physically demanding. Students may be
without parental supervision for the first time in their lives. They may
exercise this new-found freedom to:
- Study too hard
- Work too hard
- Get insufficient sleep
- Eat an unbalanced diet
- Play too hard
- Ignore a potentially serious illness
- Alcohol and Substance abuse
Unless your student is living at home, you probably won't
be around to offer healthy advice. Here are some ways you can prepare your
child for college:
- Make sure your child knows his or her medical history. Make a
written list that includes inoculations, hospitalizations, allergies,
- Have your student make a list of his or her existing medications and
medication schedule. Get extra prescriptions and identify a pharmacy
near the school for refills.
- Make sure your student has health insurance. He or she should have
an insurance card and understand when to use it. This insurance should
be over and above what's covered by the student health service.
- Encourage the student to visit the school's health facilities
whenever he or she feels sick, physically or emotionally. Discuss the
importance of preventative care and counseling services.
- If your student has a chronic illness, find a specialist near the
school before classes begin in case of an emergency.
The following are some simple, common sense ways you can
help your student with medical care:
- Send your student to college with a small medical kit that includes
band-aids, gauze tape, thermometer, aspirin and/or ibuprofen, antacid,
and anything else that specially applies to his or her medical needs.
- Stress that if the student has a temperature of more than 101
degrees for more than a day, he or she needs to go to the health center.
- Discuss the symptoms of the common cold and flu and how to treat
them. Also specify when it's time to get help by visiting the student
- Pulling "all-nighters" and not getting enough sleep aren't helpful
to good health or good grades. Stress that many illnesses in college are
directly related to lack of sleep.
- Stress can also lead to illness. Headaches are often a signal of
too much stress.
- Make sure that female students know how to do a breast
self-examination and advise them to get a PAP smear once a year.
- Make sure that male students know how to do a testicular
- Give your child the right information about nutrition so that he or
she can avoid all the fad diets. Vitamins are a supplement to good
nutrition, not a substitute.
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) include AIDS, herpes, chlamydia,
syphilis, gonorrhea, and hepatitis. Students who practice unsafe sex
stand a good chance of contracting one (or more) of these diseases.
Adapted from a publication from the Minnesota Higher
Education Services Office