6 Things About College That Can Affect Your Health

Believe it or not, college can have an effect on your health…well, maybe that’s more believable than it’s not. A lot goes on in college, and if you’ve never experienced it before, you may be in for a surprise- and I don’t necessarily mean by the good kind. Whether it be  cost attendance, the academic demands, or the party scene filled will beer and sex (yes, I just used the “S” word), there’s a lot that can pull you under and drown you in the cold abyss of unreality…did I scare you yet?

I happened upon an article on livescience.com, listing 9 Ways Going to College Affects Your Health, and thought I’d come up with a list of my own, outlining 6 things that you should be prepared for and try to avoid as much as possible:

  1. Stress. This one is an all-encompassing issue which every item below contributes to this in some way. You’re in a different environment with an entirely new set of rules (or lack of rules in some cases), which can lead to social anxiety and even depression. How do you combat against this? For one, don’t overload yourself. You may try to take 18 credit hours, but you’ll soon realize  that such a feat is hardly possible as you’ll be burnt out by the time the midterm comes around. Don’t forget that there’s only 168 hours in the week and you’ll need around half that for sleep, eating food, and having some leisure time. Next, get involved in clubs (within academic interest) and make some friends; it’s good to have people to talk to, and it should help keep you out of trouble…
  2. Drinking. If you took my advice above too liberally, you may find yourself dragged into the party scene, whether you want to be there or not. College, for many, is the place for experimentation, not only with alcohol, but with other forms of intoxicants and…well, I’ll get into that issue later. You want to be careful with who you allow to influence you, as substance abuse not only can have an affect on you academically, but on your health later on down the road as well.
  3. Pizza and the Sort. With so much available to you, it’s easy to replace healthier food options with food you can eat on the fly or while you study. There’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting down with a bottle of Coke and a few slices of Domino’s Wisconsin 6 Cheese pizza and getting to work, and that’s ok in moderation, but the excessive consumption of fructose and animal fat can really drag you down and add some additional pounds in the long run. Practice good eating habits and combine that with exercise and your semester should be off to a good start.
  4. All-Nighters. Sleep is good. Whenever I lose sleep, I’m thinking of the hours I’ll have to spend trying to make it up. Not only am I less willing to wake up at a decent hour the next morning, but throughout the day, I’m dragging just to keep up with time. All-nighters result in a lack of productivity and causes several health problems to develop as well such as heart disease and obesity. My advice is to take all your classes during the day and try to set up a sleep schedule from 10-6. It may not be feasible with work, but the goal is to at least get to bed before midnight, if you can help it. That way, you’re well-rested and you can get an early start on the day.
  5. Sex. It’s not a topic that should be just glazed over or tread over lightly. While many articles like to brush the issue of casual sex off, saying “it doesn’t happen happen as often as most people think”, it does happen.  Not only does unrestrained sex lead to problems like STD’s, unwanted pregnancies, and rape, but it can also have psychological consequences as well. I believe sex should only be done within the confines of marriage, because any time it’s done out of that can be disastrous. I give the same advice for sex as I do for doing drugs and pulling loans: don’t do it.
  6. Debt. This is one that most students seem to have a problem with and is an issue I’ve covered extensively. If you’ve already been to college for a year or two and know full well how expensive college really is, you probably don’t need to be told how stressful and hopeless life can be when you have a financial burden hanging around your neck.  Now while having debt can be a motivator to finish your education and work harder to pay it all off in the end, it’s something you’ll want to avoid getting into entirely. Get a job, start making money, and stop pulling loans. Enough said.

The college life gets a lot of hype; possibly more than it really deserves. It’s a stressful environment where if you’re not in the party scene drinking your brains out and having sex, you’re spending all night cramming for that exam you have the next morning. Not to mention the debt you accumulate from pulling loans to pay off the exorbitant costs associated with attending an institution of higher education. College is an institution of learning and, if treated with respect, can be a wonderful experience for those who wish to pursue their interests and make a viable career out of it. Otherwise, it serves as nothing more than a waste of time and good health.