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Thursday, September 8, 2011
For the student, there is a WHOLE new world to explore. The freedom to come and go and do pretty much what you want. Eat what you want. Sleep when you want and so much more. This can be such an exciting and rewarding time, but also there are many things to consider.
If you're new to college or just starting out, you might feel overwhelmed with the new routine, responsibility of being on your own, trying to keep up with your classes, and meeting so many new friends. It can make people really anxious. Sometimes the tendency is to get caught up in your new social scene and lose sight of the academics. On the other hand, some students get so focused on studying and the new burden of all the schoolwork that they forget to have fun. College students need both a social life (whether Mom and Dad like to admit it or not) and a rewarding academic life to achieve all their goals. Make sure you find the right balance for you. If you find yourself overwhelmed, ask for help from other students, parents, counselors or teachers. Most colleges have free counseling available and other services to provide you with support.
In all the chaos of starting school, health sometimes gets left behind. We always hear about "the freshman ten" or the pounds that many people starting school gain. Remember that just because you CAN run to Taco Bell in the middle of the night when you're hungry and studying doesn't mean you SHOULD. Keep healthy snacks like granola bars or fresh fruit in your room that you can grab when you are hungry. Make sure you don't forget to eat something GREEN now an then. Well....if you're eating in the cafeteria at school you might be seeing more green thatn you'd like. But, there are some things Mom and Dad say that are true (whether you want to believe it or not). Vegetables and fruits are important to your health. If you don't have decent healthy fuel in your body, it's awfully hard to keep your busy schedule.
Sleep is another thing that college students sometimes skimp on. Your brain needs sleep. It has to re-boot. Every night. Without it, your brain just won't process all the information your are trying to shove in it right now. Get plenty of sleep and try to keep a regular schedule. Staying up very late one night and oversleeping the next day can really confuse your brain about when it's supposed to sleep and when it needs to be working.
Remember that illnesses spread through college campuses quickly. Get your immunzations to be sure you are protected. Especially the meningitis vaccine. Meningitis is an infection of the nervous system that can be serious, even fatal. It is especially deadly to college students in dorms where it can be passed from person to person quickly. And don't forget your flu shot. Every year we see a campus shut down from widespread flu.
Finally some advice for the parents. It's hard letting go, but you have to. Don't be one of those "helicopter"parents you're hearing about. The best thing you can do is give your child some freedom to learn their way in their new world. But, stay close enough to give advice when asked and comfort when needed. As a parent myself, the thought of it terrifies me. But, just think of this time as your "final exam" as a parent. No pressure.(Grin.)