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Fall day on the quad of a college campus with students walking around

Young adults might see college as an opportunity to get a taste of the freedom they’ve been craving, but what might be overlooked is that freedom comes with responsibilities. In college, being responsible doesn’t just mean doing your homework or getting to classes on time, it means taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and financially. Learn how to successfully tackle these new-found responsibilities with these important tips:

  • Diet/Nutrition: It’s more difficult to practice healthy eating in college when your parents aren’t around telling you to finish your veggies.
    • The option to eat out can be tempting, especially when you get tired of dining hall food. Just remember there’s a way to enjoy a night out with friends and still maintain a balanced diet.
    •  Eating disorders affect many college students, so even though it’s important to eat healthily, students need to ensure they’re eating the right amount and not under- or overeating.
  • Sleep/Stress & Depression: With such busy academic and social schedules, sleep tends to become a lower priority for many college students. This is a dangerous habit. Sleep deprivation is a serious health issue that can affect one’s work, attitude, and social life, and can cause stress and depression. Remedy this by establishing a sleep routine to ensure that you can perform your best all the time.
    • Stress is natural and affects most students throughout their college careers.Take care of yourself and try to reduce the amount of stress you experience by not procrastinating on big projects or papers; this can lead to anxiety.
    • Depression can affect anyone for any number of reasons. If you start to feel depressed, find someone you can talk to or seek out professional help.
  • Physical Activity: It can be hard to stay active in college when you’re tired after class or just want to spend time hanging out with your friends, but taking care of your body by being physically active is important. Exercise helps control your weight and is a great way to relieve stress after an especially difficult test.
  • Health Check-ups & Immunizations: Routine check-ups are important to ensure your general health and well-being even when you don’t feel sick. If you ever get injured or start to feel sick, schedule an appointment with a local or campus doctor.
    • All students must receive certain immunizations before they start school to protect the community against things like chicken pox and Meningococcal disease.
    • If you are sexually active, be sure you and your partner get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Many STDs occur without any symptoms.
    • Sexual assault happens. If you become a victim, be sure to get help either at school or in the local community.
  • Alcohol & Drugs: Binge drinking is a serious issue in college that can lead to alcoholism and many other social and physical problems down the road. Make sure you know your limits and how much you should drink to stay below the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit – which is .08 in Massachusetts – based on your body type. And remember, it’s illegal for anyone under 21 years old to consume alcohol. Alcohol poisoning causes more than 1,000 alcohol-related deaths among students ages 18-24 in the U.S. every year. There are places to go for help if you or a friend are struggling with excessive drinking or have developed a drug addiction.
  • Campus Safety: During your first day on campus, find out where your campus security office is and what number to call in case of an emergency. Don’t walk alone at night, especially if you go to school in a major city.
  • Money Management: Design a budget and only spend the amount of money you have allotted for that week. Prioritize spending and know that you can’t always do everything. Your college years are when you should start building good credit, so pay your bills on time anddon’t spend money you don’t have by using a credit card. Buying on credit can quickly spiral into unmanageable debt which will affect your credit score for your future.

College is a time to learn and grow. It shapes your future, which is why it’s important to learn how to be responsible for yourself and your actions. Becoming responsible for your health and money can be frightening and difficult at times, but there’s no greater reward than knowing you can do something  successfully on your own.

Tweet @MassGov and share your tips for college students. 

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