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Let's talk about student health

Southern Connecticut State University

Adapted from a CollegiateParent article by Amanda Taylor

College is one of the most eventful and transformative periods in a person’s life. It’s a time for students to spread their wings and gain a deeper understanding of who they are without us — their parents/guardians — by their sides.

Classes, academic work, roommates, parties, sports, activities, jobs and friendships take on new weight and meaning as students learn to balance it all. While exciting, college can also feel overwhelming, and the challenges don’t end with freshman year. If anything, the pace picks up for older students as they take harder classes, step in to leadership roles and get more serious about career preparation.

Southern supports student success and well-being well beyond the classroom.   Here is Southern’s  "Maximize Your Potential"  wheel with six dimensions of well-being with equal weight and equal importance: This comprehensive programming addresses student success and wellness on every level and will support your student  throughout their  journey at Southern and beyond. Just click on any of these areas to learn more about the programs, workshops, and other services available to help your student maximize their potential, and urge your student to click on and explore these offerings, too! Below are a few key areas of special importance:

Managing stress

Stress may be a hallmark of American society, but it doesn’t have to shadow your student’s daily life. There are many evidence-based tools to manage stress.

  • Cardio exercise, yoga and meditation lower stress levels and calm the body and mind. Integrating these practices takes discipline at first but pays off big-time in the long run.
  • A daily spiritual practice, being in nature, spending quality time with a friend or journaling are all ways to combat stress.
  • Staying organized and managing time are also key in combating stress.

Talk with your student about what has worked for them in the past, and about people you both may know who do a good job leading balanced lives. Encourage your student to integrate at least one stress-busting practice in their daily routine.

Eating for optimal health

Chances are in college your student won’t eat as well as they did at home — at first, anyway. Because most students live in dorms freshman year, they don’t have access to a kitchen which limits their ability to prepare healthy meals. Some talking points:

  • Remind your student that eating fast foods, drinking too much caffeine and consuming lots of sugar will only serve to make them feel sluggish and can weaken the immune system, leading to illness.
  • Encourage your student to seek out fresh fruit and veggies, eat breakfast and try not to skip meals.
  • Keeping healthy snacks on hand — fruit, protein bars and trail mix — can help them maintain normal levels of blood sugar and stave off binge-eating.
  • Taking daily vitamins and drinking plenty of water are also good nutritional habits.

Sleep is key

As parents, we know all too well that many problems can be traced back to too little sleep: poor academic (or professional) performance, mood changes, physical illness, increased accidents, slowed cognition and forgetfulness to name a few. It’s normal for students to experience an adjustment to their sleep schedule when first arriving at college. There are ways to facilitate a good night’s sleep and productive day:

  • Establish a bedtime routine.
  • Work at a desk instead of the bed.
  • Turn off screens!
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, soda and hardcore snacking before bed.
  • Limit all-nighters.
  • Abstain or limit alcohol intake.

Alcohol consumption is a major health concern on college campuses and increases the risk for accidents, sexual assault, violence, unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), poor academic performance and social problems. Talk with your student about drink limits. If they are underage, like most freshmen, encourage them to wait to drink alcohol as there are serious legal consequences to drinking underage. Help your student establish healthy boundaries and talk about alternatives to drinking alcohol.

If your student chooses to drink, educate them on the dangers of binge drinking — for females that’s four or more drinks and for males five or more drinks in a short period of time. Pre-gaming is a common practice on college campuses that can lead to all sorts of unfavorable outcomes for students. The more they know about drugs and alcohol, the more likely they are to make wise choices. The National Institute of Health has online information for parents and guardians about college drinking statistics and advice for how to talk about it with your student.

Know your resources

Southern Connecticut State University offers a full array of student health and wellness resources and counseling services to address most of your student’s needs. Familiarize yourself with what is offered by browsing these websites. Talking with your student about what is available to them on campus helps empower them to reach out and get help. If your student has mental or physical health vulnerabilities before going to college, it’s important to have safety nets in place as change is sometimes followed by setback.

Your college student’s emotional, mental and physical health impact their quality of life and can determine how well they are able to transition from home life to college life.


Amanda Taylor holds an undergraduate degree in English literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver. She is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Colorado with a private practice in Boulder where she works with various populations.


Southern Connecticut State University

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