Sending a child away to college for the first time is a big change, not only in their life but yours as well. Set that against the backdrop of a global pandemic, and it’s no wonder that college parents are experiencing more back-to-school jitters than usual this year. 

Whether they’re going to school across town or on the other side of the globe, here are a few safety tips to focus on. 


The “Freshman 15” is a phrase used to describe the weight gained by students during their first year at school. When given free reign to pick all of their own meals for the first time, many students’ balanced diets surrender to flavor and convenience.

Discuss with them the importance of a diet that is not based on just pizza and snacks. Most campuses now include a variety of healthy options in their dining facilities.

If there are any food allergies that need to be accommodated extra steps will need to be taken. Make sure to reach out to the school to find out what, if any, options are available on campus. With the growing number of students with dietary allergies schools are becoming better equipped to accommodate them.

First Aid Kit

Scratches, bumps, and burns don’t stop happening when they step onto a college campus. Sending them off with a well-stocked first aid kit will cover most of their basic medical needs. Most pharmacies and retailers such as Target and Walmart stock a variety of ready to go first aid kits. You can also look at making your own from scratch.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, extra hand sanitizer and a thermometer to track symptoms are practical additions to a standard first aid kit. Other items such as flip flops for the showers, to avoid athlete’s foot, are also great add-ons. 

Warts, also known as verruca vulgaris have an incubation period of 4-6 months and can be transmitted from skin to skin contact or contact with a nonliving object carrying the virus, such as bathroom tiles and dorm room floors.  Get comfy in where you’re living, but make sure to keep your feet covered with flip flops or socks at all times. 

Megan Vause

RN/Community Health Educator, Catholic Health

Prescription Medicines

Prescription medicines play a key role in helping people live a healthy life and college students are no different. From acne to anxiety there are a wide range of medical conditions that may require prescribed medication. Before your student leaves for school make sure you have a plan in place to avoid their medication running out.

It is important to know the facts about their prescriptions. How often they will need a refill? How long is their prescription for? Where can they refill their prescription?

If you will be using a new pharmacy closer to their school there are additional things to consider. The student health center is a great resource for recommendations on a local pharmacy.

Emergency Plan

While we hope the worst that will happen while they are away at school is a scratch or a bruise, sometimes there is a need for more advance medical attention.

Before they leave for school make sure to research local health centers. Discuss when they should go to the student health center, a local urgent care, or an emergency room. There should also be a plan in place for letting you know something has happened and where they are. Making sure their roommates have your emergency contact information is a great idea.

In addition to knowing where these health centers are located, identify whether they are in network with your insurance. Extra costs for visiting an out-of-network facility can be an extra burden in what could already be a stressful situation.

Emergency plans go beyond scheduled fire drills when you’re on your own at college! If your school has a student health center, get familiar with its location and hours of operation. Whether or not your school has a student health center, it’s always a good idea to know the location of your local emergency departments or urgent care facilities.

Megan Vause

RN/Community Health Educator, Catholic Health