Physical Health

In college, staying home from school means sitting in your room all day long while everyone else is out and about having fun. Don’t expect your parents to show up at your dorm ready to take care of you: as an adult, you’re expected to take care of yourself. The good news is your school has plenty of provisions for you if you become ill.

Every college campus has a health center. If you’re a fulltime student you’ll be charged a health center fee, which allows you to use the facilities whenever you need them. The health center staff knows how to deal with illnesses that often plague college students, such as strep throat, the flu, and mono.

Some university health centers charge a small fee each time you visit, which is often waived if you make an appointment. If your health center can’t provide you with a service you need, such as dermatology, they will generally refer you to a provider who works with the school’s insurance program.

Your file in the university health center is absolutely confidential. The staff will not share it with your parents, professors, the government, or anyone else. Be completely honest with the doctors and nurses so you can get the proper treatment.

    Common Health Center Services
  • Routine physicals
  • Immunizations
  • Allergy injections
  • Classes for quitting smoking
  • Weight control classes/nutritional counseling
  • Fitness tests
  • Massage/physical therapy
  • Pharmacy services
  • Birth control counseling
  • Counseling and psychological services

If you have an emergency when the health center is closed, you should call 911. Some schools have special after-hours numbers for less serious medical problems that still need immediate attention. However don’t hesitate to call 911 if you’re worried about your health, because a condition you think can wait till morning might actually be very serious.

Call 911 right away if you or a friend is experiencing any of the following:

  • Unconsciousness/fainting
  • Profuse bleeding
  • Broken bones
  • Eye injuries
  • Severe and persistent vomiting
  • Head trauma
  • Drug overdose
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness/weakness
  • Severe difficulty breathing

The health center fee you pay as part of your tuition includes the school’s health insurance plan. You can forego most of this fee if you show proof that you’re still on your parent’s health insurance policy. You will still be charged a health fee, but it will be significantly lower without the added cost of insurance.


Most colleges require that you’ve had the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. Recently, colleges have started requiring their first years to get the meningococcal meningitis vaccination, especially if they are living in residence halls, where close contact can spread this illness. You may also have to show proof of having received a tetanus, polio, or diphtheria vaccine.

The Freshman Fifteen

An important part of maintaining your health is eating well. Once you’re in college there won’t be anyone around telling you to eat your veggies. You can have ice cream for breakfast, gummy bears for lunch, and cherry pie for dinner if you like. Who’s stopping you? We can guarantee that if you regularly eat like this you won’t function the way you’re supposed to, and you’ll put yourself at risk for getting sick. Furthermore, an unhealthy lifestyle promotes poor grades. Can what you eat affect your performance in school? Absolutely. Becoming conscious of your eating habits will help to keep you on top of your game.

Many first-year students gain fifteen to twenty pounds during their first semester in college. When you first get to school, look around your classrooms and note the svelte bodies of the students around you. By semester’s end, most of them are going to be significantly bulkier. It could even happen to you.

What’s the reason for the “freshman fifteen” phenomenon? In part, it has to do with the food choices offered to college kids in the dining halls. Fats and starches abound. Pizza, hamburgers, and French fries become the staple diet. Breakfast is generally sugary, and snacks tend to be fatty and salty. The perfect recipe for that “spare tire.” College kids also don’t have a lot of money to spend, and fast food is cheap and tasty. Most fast food pretty much equals fat food.

The weight gain also comes from the extra calories in alcohol. The first year of college is when most people are first exposed to the all-you-can-drink-mentality, and they overindulge. Aside from the many other side effects that alcohol causes, it causes tremendous weight gain. Alcohol also acts as an appetizer, meaning that it makes you hungry.

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