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College Health and Safety in a Nutshell

College is filled with new experiences, from academics and athletics to dorm life and dating. You may be living away from home for the first time, and while your growing independence can be exciting, it comes with risks and responsibilities. How do you handle demanding schedules, sexual and social pressures, and the temptations of drugs, alcohol, and unhealthy food—not to mention stress? Practice these tips to be safe and healthy and get the most out of your college years.

Quick Facts for Students

  • Healthy eating is all about balance. You don't have to give up "comfort" foods like pizza. You just need to eat them only once in a while and balance them out with healthier foods and more physical activity. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables; eat fewer foods high in calories, saturated fat, salt, or added sugar; and don't go on crash diets.
  • Photo: College studentStress can sometimes be good. But it can also make you feel emotional and nervous or cause problems with sleeping and eating. Getting enough healthy activity and the right care and support can put problems in perspective and help stressful feelings go away in a few days or weeks. You can start to feel better by
    • Taking care of yourself:
      • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
      • Exercise on a regular basis.
      • Get plenty of sleep.
      • Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out.
    • Talking to others:
      • Share your problems and feelings with a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or clergyperson. Let them know how you're coping with new challenges.
    • Avoiding alcohol and other drugs, which can create more problems and increase the stress you are already feeling.
  • Rape statistics show that 1 of 5 U.S. women and 1 of 71 men have been victims in their lifetime. Nearly 1 of 2 women and 1 of 5 men have also experienced other forms of sexual violence at some point in their lives. Most female victims of completed rape (80%) experienced their first rape before the age of 25.
  • Binge drinking (having four or more drinks for women or five or more drinks for men over a short period of time) is a risk factor for risky sexual behavior, unintended pregnancies, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, car crashes, violence, and alcohol poisoning.
  • Not getting enough sleep puts teens and young adults at higher risk for car crashes, poor grades and performance in school, depressed moods, and problems with peer and adult relationships.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among Americans. Most people who engage in suicidal behavior never seek health services. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among persons aged 15 to 24 years.
  • Most sexually transmitted diseases are treatable, and many are curable. Half of all new sexually transmitted diseases occur among young people aged 15 to 24 years.
  • Regular health exams and tests can help you prevent problems or find them early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. Getting the care you need and taking steps to live a healthier and safer life can help you achieve your goals while in school and over your lifetime.

Photo: college studentsLearn more about college health and safety issues, including ways to

  • Improve eating habits.
  • Be active.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Maintain mental health and lower stress.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Avoid substance use.
  • Have healthy relationships.
  • Prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

If you or a friend is struggling with a health or safety problem, you can:

  • Talk to someone you trust for support.
  • Visit your college health center or local clinic or hospital.
  • Contact the campus or community police if your safety is threatened.

Quick Facts for Parents: Health Insurance

The YouTube channel has a special section for people under 26. These videos explore the lives of young adults who don’t have health insurance and how the Marketplace will affect them.

Questions? Call
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If your children are under 26 years old, you may be able to insure them on your plan. They can join, remain, or return to your plan even if they're

  • Married.
  • Not living with you.
  • Attending school.
  • Financially independent.
  • Eligible to enroll in their employer’s plan.

These rights apply to all health plans that offer dependent coverage, including grandfathered plans, whether you get coverage through your employer or buy it yourself. Adult children under the age of 26 may be enrolled during a plan’s open enrollment period or during other special enrollment opportunities. Your employer or insurance company can provide details.

Starting October 1, 2013, young adults can also be signed up directly in the new Marketplace plans. The Marketplace is a new way to find health coverage that fits your budget and meets your needs.

More Information

Be well-informed about available resources on campus and in the community.

CDC works 24/7 saving lives and protecting people from health threats to have a more secure nation. A US federal agency, CDC helps make the healthy choice the easy choice by putting science and prevention into action. CDC works to help people live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

  • Page last reviewed: August 12, 2013
  • Page last updated: August 12, 2013
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs