Health and Safety on Campus - What Every College Student Should Know

college kids tailgating

Getting ready to go to college - from shopping for a dorm room to choosing first year classes - is something every young adult and their parents look forward to with great excitement. However, there are practical matters that need attention, also. It's important that parents discuss with their college students the safety and security matters that, though not exactly fun, are important and essential to a successful and positive college experience.


Health Information will no longer be accessible to parents once their child turns 18. All medical decisions are made by the 18 year old and don't require parental input. In order to have access to your child's medical information, a HIPPA release form must be signed, along with any required paperwork by the student's university or college. Otherwise, a college student could be in the hospital for anything from appendicitis to alcohol poisoning and the parent would legally not be allowed to access information about the child's situation.

Prescription medications should be transferred to either the campus health office or a physician in the area where the student will attend school. Mailing prescriptions is, in most cases,  illegal, and starting college is a good time for young adults to take control of managing their own prescriptions.

Birth control is something that parents need to discuss with their children heading off to college.

Unless a child follows a very strict moral code regarding sexual activity, whether religious or otherwise, it's possible that at some point during college there will be some sort of sexual encounter. Providing a college freshman with birth control options and being upfront about expectations and values will make it easier for the student to feel confident and safe when dealing with this issue.


Alcohol and Drugs

As everyone is aware, drinking and college are inextricably intertwined. Whether or not a college student will drink is rarely the question - more often it's how much, how often, and most important, how intelligently they will drink. If there's any one topic that absolutely must be discussed, it's alcohol. For those going off to college without ever having tried an alcoholic drink, it can be overwhelming and intimidating to be confronted by others who are more accustomed to drinking. If a college student doesn't want to have to make the decision to drink or not at a party or gathering, suggest that they carry a bottle of water and keep it on hand. Depending on the school and the environment, it can be hard to say no, even though it's illegal to drink under the age of 21. Talk frankly with your child about binge drinking and the serious dangers of imbibing that way. 

According to the CDC, approximately 90% of alcohol consumed by those under 21 is done by binge drinking.

 Most dorms have a zero tolerance rule for alcohol in dorm rooms, meaning if a student is caught with alcohol they will be automatically kicked out of the dorm. This alone is enough reason to warn students against drinking in college.

A great bit of advice for students is this: If you put your drink down at a party, don't pick it up and drink it again. Leave the drink and go get a new one, whether it's a beer or a glass of water. You never know what someone may have slipped in your drink. This applies to both young men and young women.

Both assault and sexual abuse on campus are more likely than not to involve alcohol and drug use.


Adderall and other stimulants used for treating ADD are being bought and sold on college campuses by students to aid in stamina and focus for studying. 

Full-time college students were twice as likely to have used Adderall non-medically as their counterparts who were not full-time students, according to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health report released in 2009. -

If your young adult is prescribed medication for ADD or ADHD, you must discuss with them the dangers of using controlled substances without a prescription.

Personal Safety

It's always a good idea for students to use a buddy system to keep an eye out for each other when going to campus events, fraternity parties, concerts and other activities. Especially in the beginning, college parties can be daunting and less experienced young adults may find themselves overwhelmed. Having a safe person is helpful.

Use caution when wearing headphones on campus. It's easy to get distracted and have a backpack, laptop or other valuables stolen. Students need to be aware of their surroundings.

After dark, travel in groups. Stay connected with friends and let others know if you decide to leave an event early or go to another location. 

Have a small emergency kit in the dorm room. A flashlight, water bottles, granola bars and $20 in singles will be helpful during a power outage or weather event.


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