As college parents, we often worry about the health and well-being of our students.  Fortunately, there are thousands of professionals who share this concern and deliver direct services to college students to maintain their health and help them to complete their higher education. We are thankful for the leadership of so many professionals to recognize the importance of student health and its impact on learning.

The American College Health Association is the leading professional organization that advocates for the diverse needs of college students. In fact, they report that “of the approximately 4,900 institutions of higher learning in the United States and its territories, nearly 2,000 offer on-campus medical and mental health services, and health promotion for students.”

In fact, an article in Forbes magazine reports that “the demands on health centers are greater and more complex than ever. More students today come to campus with significant health needs, including mental health challenges. One in four is already taking psychotropic drugs—which enable some to go to college who would not otherwise function well enough. And many need help managing serious conditions like asthma, ADHD, eating disorders, addiction, autism-spectrum disorders, and physical disabilities.”

The article quotes an important study by Dr. Daniel Silverman and colleagues that said that student “health creates capacity; students whose health status is positive and flourishing have greater ability and readiness to learn and engage fully in all meaningful educational experiences inside and outside the classroom. . . . The learner as a whole person matters in the learning.”

The key for college parents is to recognize the value and importance of student health to student success and to make sure that during student orientation that you discuss what resources are available to your student in the case they become ill or injured.  We suggest that all college families discuss the following:

  1. Discover your student health center.  Walk into the building.  Discuss how to schedule an appointment and understand if the school will bill your family insurance plan.
  2. Evaluate the health insurance plan.  Evaluate if your coverage will extend to the campus health center or if other local medical providers will accept your insurance.
  3. Avoid paying twice for health insurance.  Your school may require students to verify that they have health insurance or waive coverage.  If you do not waive coverage, your student will likely be billed for student health insurance.  Double check that you don’t pay twice.
  4. Discuss the use of urgent care centers.  Often times these centers can be convenient for students but expensive for families.  Be sure to discuss when your student should consider going to an urgent care facility versus using the on-campus health center.
  5. Secure copies of your student’s prescriptions. Discuss the proper use of medical prescriptions and how to refill them at a local pharmacy.

In the end, our experience as college parents is to trust your college and university to provide good care for your student.  These health professionals most often have the experience and compassion necessary to support your student through illnesses and injuries.