Why Your Student Should Have a Personal Departure Plan from College

The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have it right.  Be Prepared.  In so many situations, it’s important to have a plan that you hope you’ll never need.  Arming your student with a plan for how to proceed in an emergency means less anxiety for both your student and you.  Hopefully, it’s a plan your student will never need, but he knows he’s prepared — just in case.  Take time to talk with your student about his plan, work on it together, and make sure that you both know the details — just in case.

Evacuation plans

There are two general types of situations in which your student might need to leave campus quickly.  The first situation entails an instance when the campus might need to be evacuated by all students.  This might be a situation such as a weather emergency, an environmental threat, or other factor which affects all personnel at the college.

In the event of a general evacuation, the most important thing is for your student to carefully follow the instructions given by the institution.  Almost all schools now have carefully considered plans for evacuating their campus in an emergency.  Your student should look at the website or other material given to him by the college to make sure he knows what he is expected to do and how he will receive information.

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Who’s Minding Your College Student’s Health?

Note: This article was updated in January 2020.

We all want our children to be as healthy as possible.  When they were young, we took them for their regular check-ups, and we often continue to monitor and care for them when they are sick.  When our child becomes a college student, one of the many things that they will need to learn is to manage is their own healthcare

Fortunately, we do not send our college students off to a healthcare vacuum. Virtually every college or university offers some form of healthcare for its students.

College healthcare services have expanded from the earlier days of basic infirmary care for sick or injured students to a broader definition of health and wellness.  Most current college health services cover the treatment, management and prevention of health conditions and emergencies by providing onsite medical and counseling services and general wellness programming. The college healthcare field has shown significant growth in mission, services and facilities, with the greatest growth in recent years being in the area of mental health services.

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Has Your College Student Gotten a Flu Shot?

Chances are good that your college student may not have done the one thing that could make a difference in her health this winter — get a flu shot. Because college students live so closely together in residence halls, once the flu begins, it can spread quickly throughout a campus. Yet according to a study done by Janet Yang at the University of Buffalo, (as reported by Huffington Post) only about 8 percent of college students received a flu shot in a recent year.

Why do college students skip this seemingly simply solution?

One reason students may not be getting vaccinated is because they know that they are not in the groups that are at highest risk of death or other serious consequences from flu. Students may also not be thinking about the seriousness of flu because it is an annual disease and we hear about it every year. Students have stopped paying attention — or never really paid attention to messages in the first place.

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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 up to 60% of college students reported poor 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 their time management or financial budget, have a conversation with your student about sleep habits. This may be especially important if your student feels chronically tired, irritable, sleeps excessively on the weekends, or is struggling academically. Help your student understand the importance of sleep, and help them think about how to get more.

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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.

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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 their service animal will be able to live in the residence hall with them.

Fortunately, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, your student should have no problem bringing a service animal to college. 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 or the school may request that they be removed.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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