thousands of households across the U.S., teens who are about to become college freshmen are preparing
for the transition from home to campus. They are calling their new roommates to
figure out who’s bringing the futon or refrigerator, and hitting local stores
with their shopping lists for bedding, sundries and supplies.
just as important to have a checklist for the college freshman’s health and
safety needs. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
For Parents and
that this is a time of excitement and adventure for many young people, but also
a time filled with uncertainty. Planning
ahead and offering support along the way can be helpful in making the
transition easier for the student as well as for his family.
trip to the pediatrician’s office should be on the checklist for college-bound
adolescents. Your pediatrician can be a wonderful source of advice on helping
your teen to transition successfully. In addition to making sure that the entering
freshman has all of the vaccines and other
preventive health care recommended for this stage of life, pediatricians also
can help families prepare the way for their young adult’s continuing mental and
can talk with college-bound teens about the risky situations they may encounter
once they are away from home—and how to avoid, prepare for and manage these
sure that your college freshman knows where to go for emergency or urgent
health care. Find the health center on campus with your teen on move-in day or
sure that your teen has health insurance and knows how
to access and use it. Your teen’s college most likely requires him to have
health insurance, and many colleges offer plans for students who are not
already covered. Many young adults can also be covered under their parents’
health insurance until they turn 26. Be sure to review the specifics of all
health insurance plans available to your teen, since some may only provide
limited coverage or benefits. Next semester, additional health insurance
options may also be available in the new health insurance marketplace launching
Oct. 1. Visit www.healthcare.gov to learn more.
with your pediatrician’s office to be sure that the college or university
health center has all of the necessary information about your teen:
- Health insurance
about chronic health conditions
information including dosage
information for the primary care provider back home
your teen requires prescription refills, ask the college health center how best
to arrange for this. See “Staying Healthy
If your teen has
specific mental health needs, start working on developing a care plan with the
college well before move-in day. Does your child have a mental health
diagnosis, such as ADHD, depression, or an eating disorder? Be sure to ask the college health center
staff what kind of medical information they will need related to your teen, and
how to set up prescription refills if needed.
- In addition,
work with your teen to communicate with college or university staff about their
for teens with ADHD
and other diagnoses.
drugs and sexual activity may become more
accessible once teens are away from home. Be clear about your expectations regarding
drug and alcohol use even though your child may not be living at home. Be sure
your teen knows where to go—whether on campus or locally-- for reproductive
Continue to have conversations about peer pressure, good decisions, and
from High School to College.”
your teen is settled into the college routine, keep in close contact and try to
get frequent readings about how he is doing academically and socially. This is
especially important during the first month or so while teens are still trying
to settle in and may not have made many friends yet.
- It’s normal for
young people starting at college to have days when they feel sad, homesick, or
a bit lost. If these feelings persist or interfere with their ability to work,
they should seek help and know that it is normal to do so. Watch for
and be prepared to act. Students need to know that there are specially trained
counselors on campus waiting to help and support them.
Advice for the
Young Adult Headed for College:
college is an exciting time. In addition to thinking about dorm furnishings,
classes and clubs, it is also important to think about taking charge of your
own health. Here are some
tips for you to consider.
Before you go:
your pediatrician to be sure you have all of the recommended vaccines and other
preventive healthcare needed at this time. Ask about shots for meningococcal disease, HPV, pertussis and flu. Even if you’ve
had these shots before, you may need another dose or a booster shot.
with your pediatrician about coordinating your health care with your college. Many
young adults continue to see their pediatrician until they turn 21. When the
time comes to transition to an adult health provider, your pediatrician can help.
you have a medical condition or health issue, know the facts. When going to a
new doctor or clinic, such as the campus health center, you will need to
provide information about your diagnosis and how you treat it.
you are taking medication to treat a health or mental health condition, know
the name of the medication, how is it taken, side effects, and if you cannot
have certain foods or drinks while taking the medication. Also know how and
where you will go to refill prescriptions.
moving into the dorms, know where you will go if you are having a health
problem. What hospitals or clinics are nearby? Where is the student health
center? Where should you go if the center is closed, such as at night or on
weekends? Talk with your parents about how your family’s health insurance works, and be
sure you have a card from the health plan.
- Consider packing an emergency kit to keep under your bed in the dorm. A flashlight and batteries, non-perishable food and water (to be kept strictly for emergencies!), basic first aid supplies and extra medication can come in handy in the event of blizzards, storms or other scenarios in which you may be confined to your room or campus for a time.
Once you get to campus:
- Participate in activities to promote your overall health. Eating right, getting enough sleep (at least 8 or 9 hours a night), and being active will keep you feeling energized and can reduce stress.
advantage of nutritious options in the college
dining hall or other eateries. Be conscious of the right number of calories for
you to consume to be healthy (about 1,800
per day for an 18-year-old female, and about 2,200 a day for an 18-year-old
male, though active teens and athletes may require more). Be sure to get
enough protein, veggies, and other nutritious foods to fuel your busy life. And
keep an eye on fats, sugars, and sodium. Finally, be aware that late-night
eating can add calories you didn’t plan on.
you have a chronic health
make sure roommates or someone close to you know about your health condition,
signs of problems, and what to do in an emergency situation. If your problem is
particularly complex or challenging, consider talking with or meeting with a
health center staff member before the academic year starts.
have shown that the majority of students on campus don’t use drugs and either
don’t drink or do so in so moderation. And surveys of college students show
that most have zero or one sexual partner in a year. So you don’t need to
engage in these behaviors in order to fit in. Drinking excessively can open you
up to significant health risks (accidents, fights, date rape/sexual assault). See
from High School to College.”
out what resources are available to support you. Often there are support groups
and student services available on campus to help address the transition to
college. It’s normal for someone starting at college to have days when they
feel sad, homesick, or a bit lost. If these feelings last for more than a week
or so, or are interfering with your ability to work or enjoy your college
experience, seek help. The health center or counseling center is a good place