Ten Health Tips for College-Bound Kids

A Black woman kisses her son after dropping him off at college

Sending a child off to college can be an exciting and emotional experience – for parents and students.

Whether they are just starting freshman year, or heading back to campus as an upper classman, it’s important to have a plan for your student’s health care while at college. 

Here are 10 tips to help ensure a healthy and safe semester:


  1. Be sure that your child is up to date with their immunizations – particularly the Meningococcal, TDaP and HPV vaccines.
  2. Encourage your student to get a flu shot.  For protection that lasts throughout flu season, it’s best to receive the flu vaccine in October or November, when they are home over Thanksgiving break.
  3.  Be on the lookout for new COVID vaccine recommendations. New information from the CDC is expected in the next few weeks; be sure to share those recommendations with your student and make a plan for them to be immunized.  
  4. Review your child’s health insurance to determine coverage for both emergency and non-emergent care while they are at school – especially if they are out of state.  
  5. Keep a copy of your child’s health insurance card and ask them to keep their card in a secure but accessible place.
  6. Encourage your student to become familiar with student health services at their school, including its location on campus, hours of operation and the emergency phone number.
  7. Have an open discussion with your child about mental health, including how and where they can seek care if needed. Remind your child about the 988 national Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offering 24/7 call, text and chat access to trained crisis counselors for people experiencing suicidal, substance use, mental health crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress.
  8. Consider giving your child a credit card they can use in case of an emergency, with no questions asked.
  9. Have a candid conversation about practicing safe sex and how to be prepared.
  10. Remind them about the hazards of substance use and abuse and reinforce that they can always call you 24/7, without any judgement.


Linda Oliver, PA-C, MPH is Interim Vice President of Ambulatory Operations at South Shore Health. Learn more about primary care at South Shore Medical Center.