Whether you are a fresh-faced teen hitting a university campus for the first time or an older woman headed back to school, surviving college is concerning. While it can be the most exciting period of a student’s life, there are plenty of issues that the modern undergrad faces. With this in mind, here’s a quick college survival guide to make sure you – or your teen – get through the toughest parts of the university experience.
College Survival #1: The Money
Obviously, there is one particular thing that everyone worries about when it comes to getting a college education – the money. The average amount of student debt is around $20,000 by the time they finish, and that’s not including credit cards. There are no easy solutions, unfortunately, but it’s helpful for college kids to understand some basics about finances and limit their spending. Parents can help by setting up a college fund, of course, but there will be some students who need to find a part-time job to cover extras. Look for one with perks – waiting tables can provide plenty of extra money via tips and also has the added extra of the occasional free meal.
Some students also have a concern about how to handle their cash once they get to college. It helps to have a solid plan that includes a budget, emergency directions, and handling credit. Additionally, talk about and clarify what to do if a friend asks for money or if your student needs to actually borrow money from a friend in a pinch. Simply knowing what options are there and how to handle money properly will give your child the confidence he/she needs to successfully navigate and issues that come up.
College Survival #2: Your Physical Health
When you live in proximity to many other young people on campus, reality, unfortunately, dictates you will likely get sick at some point. And while most students won’t come down with something serious, it’s always best to be well prepared. Telemedicine for college students can be a good way of lowering the cost of healthcare. Ultimately, however, awareness and prevention are the best things to keep you healthy and safe from lurking diseases and viruses. Sexual health is also a huge priority for the college student, as situations can arise quickly and even without much forethought.
College Survival # Your Mental Health
Higher education is not easy and can put an immense amount of pressure on young adults…or anyone, for that matter. The stress from tight schedules, money issues, relationships, and bad grades can lead to emotional instability. Students can be susceptible to anxiety, depression, and other minor emotional disturbances. And though college, itself, is not the cause of some illnesses like clinical depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, it can certainly play a role in making these things worse. After all, students have had their parents and other mentors around them to care for things. Simply being on their own can trigger relapses or new symptoms. It’s important to get help if anything seems off or out of control.
College Survival #3: Crime
Of course, nearly anywhere you go, live, work or study has crime. Furthermore, college students can be at a higher risk for experiencing it first hand. Theft, mugging, sexual assault, and other violent crimes are common in university towns and on campus. Sexual predators can look for victims at nightclubs and wait for unsuspecting students to be alone. Unfortunately, it’s not always a stranger who preys on the weak. New friends and acquaintances aren’t always who they seem to be. Be aware that criminals often target students to steal computers, phones, bikes, and other valuables. Always keep your things locked up and safe and make sure to insure them. This also goes for your online security. Additionally, crimes like bullying, cyberbullying, and stalking should be taken as seriously as other types of crimes. Students must be aware at all times and be able to recognize a threatening behavior.