Sweet Dreams! Is Your College Student Getting Enough of Them?

News flash! College students don’t get enough sleep!

Well, actually, this may not be a news flash for anyone. Americans overall are getting less sleep, and many of us recognize that we need more than we are getting. But college students are the group most deprived of the sleep that they need. One study reported that only 11% of college students reported good quality sleep, and college students today get approximately two hours less sleep a night than students in the 1980’s.

Sleep is vital to our well-being, and not getting enough can affect students’ health, moods, safety, and GPA. Many students, who may be in charge of their sleep habits for the first time in their lives (Mom isn’t telling them it’s time for bed), underestimate their need for sleep and may not realize the extent of the harmful effects of lack of sleep. As they try to balance classes, jobs, new independence and social lives, students often develop unhealthy patterns and habits.

As a college parent, you ultimately have no control over how much sleep your college student gets, and that’s appropriate. Part of the college experience is learning how to regulate your life. But just as you might talk to your student about his time management or financial budget, have a conversation with your student about his sleep habits. This may be especially important if your student feels chronically tired, irritable, sleeps excessively on the weekends, or is struggling academically. Don’t nag your student, but help him understand the importance of sleep, and help him think about how to get more.

Read moreSweet Dreams! Is Your College Student Getting Enough of Them?

Living on Campus? Why Your College Student Needs the Meningitis Vaccine

If you have a student headed to college, you’ll need immunization records.  And if your student will be living on campus, he’ll likely be required to have the meningitis vaccination – and for good reason.

College freshmen are the most likely segment of the US population to contract bacterial meningitis.  Because so many students in this group live together so closely in college residence halls, they are six times more likely to contract the disease than other segments of the population.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 2,600 people in the United States contract meningitis each year and as many as 10-14% of those (1 in 7) will die.  Many who survive may have lasting disabilities.

The good news is that according to the American College Health Association, 80% of those cases could be prevented.

Read moreLiving on Campus? Why Your College Student Needs the Meningitis Vaccine

Service and Therapy Animals on College Campuses

If your college student relies on a service animal for assistance with a disability, the prospect of going to college, especially if it involves living on campus, comes with extra complexities.  Your student may be concerned about whether her service animal will be able to live in the residence hall with her.

Fortunately, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, your student should have no problem bringing her service animal to college with her. Many colleges and universities are experiencing a rise in requests to bring service animals to campus. The law defines a service animal as any dog (or other animal) that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.  The tasks that the animal performs must be related to the student’s disability, and can include a wide variety of services, such as assisting the blind, alerting individuals who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, or retrieving items. Service animals may also perform tasks such as recognizing and assisting during seizures.

Service animals do not necessarily need certification, although your student may need a letter from a doctor stating the need for the animal.  According to the American with Disabilities Act, the school may ask whether the animal is required because of a disability and what service the animal performs. Service animals must be harnessed, leashed, tethered or under strict control pr the school may request that they be removed.

Read moreService and Therapy Animals on College Campuses

If Your College Student Has Food Allergies – What to Do, Who to Know

If you are sending your student off to college with food allergies, you may be concerned.  Of course, your degree of concern will depend on the degree of seriousness of your student’s allergies.  One thing to keep in mind is that managing these allergies is probably not new for your student.  He may have had practice for many years.

If your student has not taken the lead on managing his allergies before now, do all that you can to let him be in charge while he is still living at home.  Make him responsible for reading food labels, taking medication, monitoring symptoms, etc.  This will give him the confidence to know that he will be able to manage once he is at school and will help him take this responsibility seriously.  Obviously, it will give you important peace of mind as well.

Read moreIf Your College Student Has Food Allergies – What to Do, Who to Know

Spring Break Warnings . . . For College Parents

Spring break is just around the corner and college students everywhere are preparing for a much needed change of pace.  For some students that change may simply be a week of rest and a chance to catch up with friends.  Other students may be using the time to work to supplement their cash flow for the second half of the semester.  But for many students Spring Break is synonymous with travel.

If your college student is headed to warmer climes over break, especially if he is heading to one of the more popular student destinations, we hope that you’ve already had some conversations about staying safe.  As a parent, you may be entirely comfortable with your student’s plans, or you may worry about this significant “letting go” experience.  Unfortunately, many scammers understand your fears and are ready to prey on them.

Read moreSpring Break Warnings . . . For College Parents

Staying Safe and Healthy in College – A Roundup of Helpful Posts

Perhaps one of the most basic things we think about when we send our student away to college is her health and safety.  Yes, we want our student to succeed academically, make friends, be engaged, and prepare for a career; but first and foremost, we want to know that our student will be safe and be able to stay healthy – both physically and mentally.  But it is not always easy to do this when we are miles away and may not see our student for weeks.

Read moreStaying Safe and Healthy in College – A Roundup of Helpful Posts

Helping Your College Study Abroad Student Stay Safe

Egypt, Haiti, New Zealand, Japan, Libya.  Within the past two years, political and natural disasters around the world have caused us concern and pain.  For those families who may have students studying or traveling abroad in an area struck by an unforeseen event, the pain and worry become enormous. Does that mean that you should hold your student close and not let her travel or study abroad?  For some families, the answer may be yes.  But many families realize the importance and benefits of studying abroad and want their student to be able to stay safe, but still have an international experience.

If your student wants to study abroad, you will naturally worry.  But accidents, disasters, and unforeseen events can occur anywhere at any time, even at home.  Understanding the situation and the program, taking some time to prepare, and discussing a plan with your student may help ease your mind somewhat.  We’d like to suggest a few things to think about, and to discuss with your student, as you consider the study abroad experience.  We’ve written several earlier articles about helping your student consider study abroad, preparing to study abroad, and supporting your student studying abroad.  Here, we’d like to consider specifically thinking about safety while studying abroad.

Read moreHelping Your College Study Abroad Student Stay Safe

Encouraging Your Student to Exercise in College

Parents are the encouragers.  We encourage our college students to study, to make friends, to get involved in activities at school, to get to know their professors.  Consider adding to your list encouraging your college student to get enough exercise.  According to a study done by researchers at Ohio State, as many as 52% of college students do not exercise.  The study also found that students differ in their response to social support for exercise, with women responding most to support of family and men responding more to support from friends.  However, whether your student is a male or female, consider asking about how much exercise he or she may be getting.

There are many reasons why students may not get enough exercise in college.  Although it is possible that students are spending too much time studying to fit exercise into their schedule, it is more likely a combination of many activities that crowd their schedule.  Students are spending time studying, working on or off campus, socializing with friends, and participating in campus activities.  They may have erratic schedules.  They may be overreacting to their dislike of high school gym class and viewing formal exercise as being back in the high school gym.  For some students, it is possible that friends provide a disincentive by viewing exercise as unimportant or “uncool”.  Many students who were active in high school – either participating in sports or walking to and from school and/or jobs, may not realize how much less exercise they are getting now.

Read moreEncouraging Your Student to Exercise in College

Eight Phone Numbers Your College Student Should Have in Their Cell Phone

Our college students have their cell phones with them wherever they go.  We see them everywhere – walking across campus, at dinner, at sporting events, when visiting with friends, while studying, even (unfortunately) in class.  Many students use their cell phone, not only for communication (by voice or text), but also as their clock or watch, their calendar, their memo keeper, their entertainment,  their alarm or reminder.  Their lives are almost as portable as their phone.

One of the advantages to having a cell phone with you everywhere you go is easy access to important phone numbers.  Your student’s cell phone is probably crammed with numbers for family and friends and other personal contacts.  Here are eight numbers your new college student should have in their phone – just in case.  It may certainly make life easier in an emergency.

Read moreEight Phone Numbers Your College Student Should Have in Their Cell Phone

Helping Your College Student Stay Healthy Living in the Dorm

College life, for resident students, is communal life.  Students live together in apartments or dorms and share their music, their ideas, their belongings, their clothes, and their germs.  It is a truth of college life that many students begin to get sick just a few weeks into the semester.  They are tired, may not be eating right, and they have been living together and exposing each other to their germs.

You will not be able to prevent your student from getting sick, just as you couldn’t prevent it when they started pre-school or kindergarten.  You can, however, send them to school with a first aid kit, a comfort pack for when illness does strike, and some reminders of ways to try to fend off some illness or shorten the duration of the inevitable.

Read moreHelping Your College Student Stay Healthy Living in the Dorm

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