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Health in College: Parents’ vs. Children’s Concerns

Medically reviewed by Judith Marcin, MD on July 25, 2017Written by Kristeen Cherney on July 25, 2017
meningitis

College is an exciting time. Yet it’s likely that you and your child are stressed about things like grades and time management. Student health is another common concern to have — but your concerns may differ from your child’s. Below are some common health issues children and parents have about starting college. Knowing the differences can help you understand your child’s concerns better. It’ll let you communicate yours too.

Child’s concern: Making new friends

Whether your child is attending college nearby or far away, making friends is a concern they may have. Having a solid group of friends can help your child find ways to reduce the stresses of school. Good friends will also offer support when they need it most.

Parent’s concern: Partying with harmful substances

Some parents associate social activities in college with partying.

First, it’s important to know that not every gathering revolves around alcohol. In fact, more schools are making rules on alcohol in dormitories and other housing. But encounters with alcohol and other harmful substances are often unavoidable.

You can talk to your teen about alcohol abstinence and what to do if they’re pressured to drink. Also, encourage your college student never to drink and drive.

Child’s concern: Keeping good grades

Your child needed a good GPA to enter college. Once in college, they need to keep up their grades for scholarships, financial aid, and degree requirements. This can lead to a lot of stress and related anxiety or depression. Balancing new courses and larger workloads can be overwhelming.

Parent’s concern: Student anxiety struggles

As a parent, you understand the need to get good grades — you may have even pushed for them in the past. But parents often worry about their child’s mental well-being more so than just their grades.

Child’s concern: Getting enough food

As soon as they get refunds from financial aid, your child may go to the grocery store or hit up the nearest dining hall. College students have another worry: budgeting their money throughout the academic year. Tuition, fees, and books can sometimes get in the way of getting groceries. Your teen may opt for cheaper options, such as fast food or packaged goods.

Parent’s concern: Adequate nutrition

You have experience making food on a budget, but you might be concerned about your child’s ability to do the same. Given the food options available to your child, you may worry they’re not getting the nutrients they need to stay focused on their studies and beyond.

Child’s concern: Being able to get a lot done with little sleep

With class, work, internships, and extracurriculars, your child may have a hard time managing their schedule. Many students worry about getting everything done and fret that sleep will get in the way.

Parent’s concern: Not getting enough sleep

As a parent of a college student, you know that there will be nights that your child will be up later than you’d like. (After all, you know what it’s like to go through sleepless nights.) Your bigger concern at this point may be whether your child is getting enough sleep on a regular basis. You know that this will affect their health (not to mention their studies).

Child’s concern: Making it through a semester without getting sick

Getting sick means missing class. This means missing out on lectures and turning in graded work. It also means missing major social events. Your child may worry about making it through the semester without catching what’s going around.

Parent’s concern: Infectious diseases

Getting sick is par for the course, especially if you live in tight quarters with a bunch of college students. Rather than the common cold or flu, you may worry about serious diseases like meningitis. The best thing you can do for your child is to make sure they’re up to date on their vaccinations before they go to college.

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