Are you gearing up to send your son or daughter off to college in the fall? Here's a checklist of items that will help your student stay healthy.
1. Get required immunizations soon. Communal living can make college students particularly vulnerable to certain diseases, such as meningitis, so most
schools won’t even allow students to register for classes without proof of
immunizations. Commonly required vaccines include MMR (measles, mumps and
rubella), tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis, hepatitis B and meningitis (meningococcal). Information on immunization requirements should be
included with new-student mailings and on institutional websites. Schedule vaccinations early in the summer to avoid scrambling for shots.
2. Pack up-to-date medication. Does your son or daughter rely on an inhaler for asthma? Allergy medicine? Contact lenses? Make sure your child packs a first-aid kit with an ample amount of medications and supplies. And don’t forget to check expiration dates.
3. Investigate off-campus health care. Campus health centers usually offer treatment for minor ailments, including cough, flu, earache, sore throat, rashes, pink eye and sprains. But find out about nearby alternatives in case your student needs care that’s not available on campus.
4. Is your child fully covered on your health insurance? If you plan to keep your child on your health insurance, check with your provider to be sure students are fully covered while away from home. If coverage under your policy isn’t an
option, consider student health insurance through the school. Many colleges and
universities offer low-cost plans through contracts with private insurance
5. Encourage good sleep, nutrition and exercise. New-found freedom can tempt young adults into unhealthy lifestyle choices. Irregular sleep habits and late-night junk food make college kids vulnerable to illness and weight gain—also known as the “freshman fifteen.” Emphasize the benefits of a good night’s sleep, and recommend the salad bars and low calorie items offered through the school’s meal plan. Help your child get familiar with the gym facilities at school. Many colleges and universities make exercise equipment available for students’ use, free of charge. Intramural and club sports are also an option. You don’t have to be a gifted athlete with a scholarship to stay in shape.
6. Steer students away from illegal drinking and drug-use. Partying is a component of the culture at most schools. A frank discussion about potential dangers will probably annoy your teen but might just make the difference at critical decision-making moments.
When kids are on their own for the first time, it’s a huge transition—from being under your wing to flying solo. But with some planning and precautionary measures, you can decrease their risks and let them know that even when they don’t live with you anymore, they are not alone.