There are many things to plan before your child heads off to college – housing, class schedules, meal plans, and more. Don’t forget to plan for health and health care too. Here are a few simple things to consider that can help prepare your child for their next chapter.
Talk to Your Pediatrician
Many pediatricians will happily continue to be your child’s primary care physician through at least the first year of college. However, some doctors will refer patients to a family medicine or internal medicine physician once your child turns 18. If your child needs to establish with a new primary care physician before they depart for school you should schedule an annual physical before the end of the summer.
Stay Up-to-Date on Immunizations
It has probably been a few years since your child has needed routine immunizations. Make sure to talk to your primary care physician about outdated immunizations before heading off to school. Typically this includes an update on the meningococcal vaccination and the flu shot. It is also recommended that your child begins/finishes his or her HPV vaccination sequence.
Locate Health Clinics Nearby
Help your child find health clinics near the school to visit if he or she needs care while at school. Check to see which clinics are in your insurance network. Also, make sure your child has a copy of their insurance card and knows to take it to appointments. Most college campuses have an on-campus health center. Although these health centers are convenient during the day, they typically don’t stay open late. It is helpful to note any nearby urgent care or walk-in clinics with later hours.
Using Campus Resources
Make sure you and your student know about resources on campus. Most colleges have amazing programs for student support. This includes all types of assistance from tutors to health counselors for depression or eating disorders. Be informed about where to go if your student needs help.
Stock Up on Necessities
Most universities have small convenience stores on campus. There, your child can find necessary cold and flu medicine, vitamins, pain medicine and allergy medicine. However, the prices are typically marked up and the selection is often limited. It is a good idea to send your child off to school with a small supply of any preventative medicine they might need. This also includes a handy first-aid kit. Here are some things to consider including when packing a first aid kit:
- Adhesive band-aids of all sizes
- Non-stick gauze
- Antibiotic ointment
- Sanitary wipes
- Ice Pack
- Hydrogen Peroxide
Create Healthy Eating Habits
College dining halls can be the best and worst part of college. Instantly your child will have access lots of food all the time. Talk to your child about staying healthy around all of the junk food and the importance of keeping nutritious, vitamin-rich whole foods as part of their diet. Consider these tips for college students:
- Stock your dorm room with snacks that aren’t junk food. Keeping heathier alternatives readily available makes you more likely you to eat them. Try keeping granola bars, dried fruit, peanut butter, and other quick foods around instead of chips and candy.
- Drink plenty of water and stay away from the soda fountain. Our bodies need 8 –10 glasses of water a day to keep us functioning and hydrated. Soda and juices are an easy way to waste calories and double your daily sugar intake.
- Take all the fruits and vegetables you can. The dining halls will most likely have bananas, apples, carrots, celery, and other easy-to-grab foods around. Take a couple on your way out of the dining hall to eat later.
- Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.Make sure to listen to your body. It is easy to go five hours without eating when you are in classes back-to-back. Try not let yourself get overly hungry, which can lead to overeating.
College makes for great memories great education, and amazing experiences. Making sure your child is healthy and prepared can help keep them focused on those great experiences.