Going to College: How to Prepare
Here are some important tips to make the transition to college a little easier.
Let's Talk About Sex continued...
While the great majority of students don't have multiple sex
partners, a lot of students are going to have sexual relationships at college,
and for many it will be their first time.
"It's important to keep the lines of communication open,
especially during the first year of college," says Kenzig. Hopefully,
you've talked to your kids about safer sex; however, some students might not
want to involve their parents when it comes to sexual health issues, and you
might be more than willing to respect their privacy. That's why on-campus
resources are so important.
Part of the health program at Columbia is an online service
called Go Ask Alice!, where students and parents from all over the country --
including you -- can ask questions about anything from sex to drugs and
alcohol, relationships, and more.
Most schools offer health services that include birth control
and testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Students over 18
need to give written permission for the college to share any medical
information, or even notify parents when students are ill.
Drugs and Alcohol on Campus
"Because of the way their brains are wired, college
students are more susceptible to overuse of drugs or alcohol, which can lead to
extremely serious problems," says David Fassler, MD, a child and adolescent
psychiatrist. He says college students can consume greater quantities of drugs
and alcohol than adults and often appear to be able to better function than
adults, even when very impaired.
Parents might be relieved to know, however, that most students
don't abuse drugs or alcohol, says Fabiano. A history of drug or alcohol
problems within the family will increase the likelihood that your kid will
develop problems. That's why Fabiano says you should never glorify your old
drinking days if you had them.
If they do screw up, don't panic. Fabiano says that tripping
early in the college career is often a part of exploration and a newfound sense
of independence. That doesn't mean that you should turn a blind eye, however,
if you suspect your kid is in the midst of a drug or alcohol problem.
Educating your kid before they leave may be your best defense
against drug or alcohol abuse. Letting them know about the risks of partying
too hard -- alcohol poisoning or drunk driving, for example -- will better
prepare them. Rothstein says frequently colleges and universities send
educational information concerning drugs and alcohol home before the school
year starts. Some students are even asked to complete a program online and a
knowledge quiz. The Minnesota Institute of Public Health, for example, designed
an information brochure for schools to use, which you can download or read