Going to college is fun and exciting. As is the case with all life transitions, getting some helpful hints in advance can smooth out the adjustment time and help create a better and healthier outcome. Make it a point to review the following “life coach tips” with your young adult (like I’ve been doing with my soon-to-be Freshman).
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle starting with diet and exercise. Many young men & women gain weight their 1st year at college (a.k.a. the Freshman 15). Follow an eating plan with correct portions of the basic food groups…and remember that beverages add extra calories. You’ll be surprised when you find out how many calories are in a Caffe Latte or Caffe Mocha. Get into an exercise routine right away when you get to college – with at least 30 minutes of solid exercise every day.
- Sexual assault is a problem on college campuses. One in five women are sexually assaulted in college. Be aware of your surroundings. Know your rights and seek help immediately if you or someone they know is the victim of violence.
- Binge drinking is dangerous. It increases your chances for risky sexual behavior, sexual assault, unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, car crashes, violence, and alcohol poisoning. When bad things happen at college – alcohol was likely involved. Recognize up-front what might happen in binge drinking situations (often involving competitive drinking games) and make a commitment to protect yourself and your friends to avoid binge situations.
- Sexually transmitted infections are common on college campuses these days. Half of all sexually transmitted infections occur among people 15 to 24 years old. College students and others who are sexually active should get tested to know their status and protect themselves and their sexual partners.
- Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and causes many diseases like cancer, and heart and respiratory diseases. About 17% of young adults smoke cigarettes. Don’t start smoking when you get to college. Most likely you’ll meet new friends and some of them will be smokers. Don’t succumb to the peer pressure – be the person of reason that gets them to quit.
- Managing stress and maintaining good balance is important for college students. A few ways to manage stress are to get enough sleep, avoid drugs and alcohol, connect socially, and get help from a medical or mental health professional, including if depressed. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among people 15 to 24. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
- Protect yourself from meningitis. First-year college students living in dorms have a higher risk for meningococcal disease, which can deadly. If you haven’t already gotten your meningitis vaccine get it done before move-in day. If you got the shot before you turned 16, you need a booster.
- Use your campus resources. There are many professionals on campus that specialize in college transition and all the issues listed above (counseling center, residence halls, commuter center, health services, etc.).