How to Foster Healthy Habits in Rising College Students
Many young adults transitioning to college have difficulty maintaining the healthy habits they developed throughout their formative years in their hometown. Being thrust into an unfamiliar environment and adjusting to a new lifestyle can cause personal health to end up on the back burner in the lives of many college students, particularly first-years.
As health educators, we can work with our students before they leave high school to help them get ready for life after high school. Encourage students to reflect on the skills they learn in class and make connections to how they can apply them in the real world.
Here are some ways first-year students can maintain their health in their new home away from home.
Many schools offer a wide variety of intramural athletics or fitness classes. Students should take advantage of these offerings in order to keep exercise a part of their routine, and seek out a workout partner from class or from the dorm so that they can hold each other accountable. They should be sure to pursue the healthy meal options in the dining hall, too.
Many of the mental/emotional health services offered on college campuses are geared toward first-year students. If students put in the effort up front to check out the counseling services provided, develop relationships with their resident assistants, peers, and professors, and seek out their academic advisors to manage the stress of handling the academic course load, they’ll benefit in the long run.
Involvement is key. There is something for everyone on most college campuses, so students can try something new, or stick to their old standbys. By becoming involved with academic interest groups (clubs based on academic majors or careers), hobby groups (clubs for those interested in a specific topic, e.g. outdoor recreation or politics), or community service groups (either through the school or a national organization), first-year students can meet people who share their passions and expand their social network.
Personal health and self-care habits are important to maintain throughout a student’s transition to college and beyond. By taking advantage of the opportunities above, students can maintain (and even improve!) their physical, mental, and social health, which will greatly enhance their college experience as a whole.