Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Your student’s health is important to us. The following is a list of 10 tips for staying healthy while at college. By talking to your student about these issues, you can help play a vital role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
1. Make Sure Your Student Knows His/Her Medical History
- Make a written list that includes dates of immunization, hospitalizations, allergies, and diseases.
- Make a list of your student’s existing medications and medication schedule. Get extra prescriptions and identify a pharmacy near the school for refills.
- If your student has a chronic illness, find a local specialist before classes begin in case of an emergency.
- SCU requires all undergraduates to have health insurance. Make sure your student has an insurance card and understands when and how to use it.
- Encourage your student to visit the school’s health facilities (Cowell Health Center and/or Counseling Center) whenever he/she feels sick, physically or emotionally. Discuss the importance of preventative care and counseling services. If you have a daughter, make sure she knows how to do a breast self-examination and advise her to get a PAP smear once a year. If you have a son, make sure he knows how to do a testicular self-examination.
- Send a small medical kit with your student to college that includes band-aids, gauze tape, thermometer, aspirin and/or ibuprofen, antacid, and anything else that applies to his/her specific medical needs.
- Discuss the symptoms of the common cold and flu and how to treat them. Stress that if your student has a temperature of more than 101 degrees for more than a day, he/she needs to go to the student health center.
2. Get Immunized
Encouraging your student to obtain immunizations for illnesses posing greater risks in the residence halls can help keep him/her healthy. The Cowell Health Center offers influenza and meningococcal (meningitis) vaccinations at reasonable costs.
3. Eat a Balanced Diet
Proper nutrition is a key ingredient for your student’s health. A balanced diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and adequate amounts of protein can help give students the energy to be successful in the classroom and prevent illness. Give your student correct information about nutrition so that he/she can avoid fad diets. Remind your student that vitamins are a supplement to good nutrition, not a substitute. Bon Appetit, the SCU dining service, offers a daily variety of healthy food options for your student to choose from. Nutritional resources are also available on campus through the Wellness Center. Some students gain weight during their first year of college, commonly referred to as “the freshman 15.” This is usually a temporary and normal part of students learning how to regulate eating on their own. Helpful responses to noticing weight gain in your student are to express reassurance and confidence he/she will acquire the important life skills of healthy eating and weight management. Try to avoid even friendly teasing because weight gain can be a sensitive subject.
4. Get Plenty of Sleep!
Remind your student that many illnesses in college are directly related to lack of sleep. Pulling “all-nighters” and not getting enough sleep aren’t helpful to good health or good grades. Headaches are often a signal of too much stress. The recommended amount of sleep for optimal health and well-being is 7-8 hours per night, yet many students sleep fewer than 6 hours. Encourage your student to get the recommended amount of sleep in order to stay healthy.
5. Exercise Regularly
Improved cardiovascular health, strength and muscle building, and stress relief are among the numerous benefits to regular exercise. Current guidelines recommend 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week. The Pat Malley Fitness and Recreation Center has state-of-the-art weight room facilities, gymnasium, pool, fitness classes (i.e., yoga, Pilates, kickboxing, etc.), tennis courts, and intramural and club sports to provide students with a variety of ways to get the exercise they need for healthful lifestyles.
6. No Smoking—EVER!
If your student smokes and wants to find help quitting, encourage them to contact the Cowell Health Center or Wellness Center for information and resources. Santa Clara University, in compliance with the City of Santa Clara Ordinance No. 1654, has adopted a non-smoking policy. Smoking is prohibited at all times in all University facilities that house offices, work areas, classrooms, or residence rooms. Members of the community who choose to smoke must maintain a distance of 25 feet from any building openings (doors, windows, air intakes).
7. Abstain from Sexual Activity or Practice Safer Sexual Behavior
In the United States, approximately 1 in 4 college students are infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Talk to your student about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as AIDS, herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and hepatitis. Taking responsibility, whether through abstinence, safer sexual practices, and/or communication is key for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy. The Cowell Health Center offers a variety of resources for students including examinations, education, and STD testing.
8. Develop Good Stress and Time Management Skills!
In order to maintain a healthy balance as a college student, it is critical that good stress and time management skills be developed. Students can be quickly overwhelmed with the competing demands of academics, friends and family, and extracurricular activities. By choosing activities wisely and maintaining a consistent and reasonable schedule, they may avoid stress and burnout. If you sense that your student is overburdened with tasks and activities, refer him or her to the Counseling Center.
9. Know Where to Go for Health-Related Assistance
It is important that your student knows where to go when he/she needs to seek medical attention. For non-emergency medical conditions the Cowell Health Center provides a range of quality health services. For after-hours medical emergencies, students should contact 911 or the SCU Emergency Medical Services (408-554-4444). For non-emergency medical needs during after-hours, students can call the Advice Nurse at 408-554-4880. Calls are answered by a Registered Nurse with specialized training in nursing/medical telephone service. For mental health services, including college adjustment issues, anxiety, depression, and stress management, contact the Counseling Center.
10. Be Informed About Common Health Issues
Some of the health issues your student may be susceptible to during the college years include: colds, strep throat, mononucleosis, meningococcal meningitis, influenza, eating disorders, sexually transmitted infections, and depression. Contact the Cowell Health Center or Wellness Center to learn more.