Wellness in college

How to Keep Your Student Healthy Away from Home

Back-to-school season was a lot simpler when your child was little. Buying lunchboxes and tissues is nothing compared with shopping for college. It may seem like you need to rent a truck (and you might) to get all your kid’s stuff to the dorm. But there’s one thing you can make sure your student packs and it doesn’t take up any room at all: It’s a plan for wellness in college.

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Making Good Choices

College students are notorious for staying up late, overdoing the caffeine, and eating too much pizza. That does happen, but if you’ve helped your child build good habits, you shouldn’t worry too much about the occasional minor slip-up. Serious issues can present more of a challenge to maintaining their wellness in college:

  • Before the school year begins, have a frank discussion about drugs, alcohol, and making safe choices, and make sure your student knows you’re available to talk at any time.
  • Throughout the year, remind your student about healthy habits. One surefire trick on the diet front: Send them a care package full of healthy treats!

Staying Active in College

Staying active is a big part of healthy living and maintaining wellness in college. If your student plays a sport, either competitively or in a club, this one should be a piece of cake. If not, you and your student can explore the areas around campus and see what there is to do.

Is there a gym or recreation center on campus? Pickleball courts? Intramural kickball or curling? Horseback-riding or cricket clubs? Have your student check out their school’s involvement fairs.

Encourage your student to ask around and connect with like-minded peers to find a way to get some exercise every day. Some campuses are so spread out that simply walking to classes is an easy way to get in thousands of steps. For longer treks, having a bike on campus can help — but make sure to include a bike helmet.

Accessing Health Care When Needed

Medical care is another issue your child may be facing alone for the first time. Check out the on-campus options:

  • Is there a student health center on campus, and what types of care does it provide?
  • How close is the nearest emergency room or urgent care facility? How can your child get there if walking or driving isn’t an option?
  • If your child is undergoing behavioral health counseling, talk to your child’s provider about the possibility of scheduling these visits via telemedicine while your child is away at college.

Health Insurance for Your College Student

Health insurance for your college student may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Most insurance plans cover dependents up to age 26, including those attending school away from home. The best thing to do to ensure your child is fully covered — and the best way for them to access care — is to contact your insurer directly.

Some colleges and universities may also offer student health insurance plans.  These may be a good option if your child is not covered under your health insurance plan.

What If I Have UPMC Health Plan?

Whether attending school or working outside of UPMC Health Plan’s primary service area, eligible dependent children (up to age 26) are covered through the UPMC Health Plan national extended network.

Your child age 18 or over also can use UPMC AnywhereCare to have a virtual urgent care visit with a health care provider. This service is best for nonemergency conditions, such as cold symptoms, allergies, or pink eye. The provider can even send a prescription to a nearby pharmacy, if necessary.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.