August 07, 2008

The Top 29 tips to maximizing a healthy college experience

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Heading off to college for the first time is one of life's greatest opportunities. At the same time, since it is often the first time the student has been away from home for an extended period, it can present a number of financial, physical and mental challenges.

Experts in these fields at Case Western Reserve University have assembled their top tips for students—new and returning— to overcome these challenges and make their college experience all it can be.

Ten Tips to Maintaining Financial Health
  1. Measure every purchase you make in terms of the time it takes you to earn that money. Do you want a $4 latte from Starbucks? Maybe it's not worth it if you consider that you would have to work about an hour at a minimum wage job just to pay for it.
  2. Before you buy anything with credit cards, ask yourself if it is worth three times the price. Because of interest, if you only pay the minimum amount due on your credit cards every month, you will eventually pay the credit card company about three times the original purchase price of the item. Thus, a $4 latte can actually cost you $12.
  3. Never use the "cash advance" offers from your credit cards. The fees, interest rate and terms are much worse than regular credit card debt.
  4. Always pay your credit card bill on time, even if it's just the minimum amount due. If the payment is even one day late, your FICO score will be damaged.
  5. Save yourself from making costly mistakes by learning the basics of FICO scores, credit card debt, student debt, and other personal financial planning techniques. Start setting a strong foundation to your credit history.
  6. Make use of all of the free and reduced priced entertainment available to students. Meetings offer some great food and also new friends. You might even discover some leadership skills you didn't know you had. Also, take advantage of work-study jobs as they are usually easier jobs and even allow some studying time while working.
  7. Research scholarships. You never know what you could be eligible for, and many local ones are often available since many students don't know about them. And always try to buy used books directly from other students.
  8. Take out only as many loans as you need for school—don't use them to finance a summer spent visiting Europe. You don't want to spend the rest of your life struggling to pay back that vacation.
  9. Understand your finance habits and what works best for you. For instance, if you are more likely to spend cash than using credit cards, don't carry around extra cash.
  10. Never co-sign a credit card application for a friend. You will be equally responsible for any debt they incur. Understand that co-signing means that the second person is liable for the first's debt.

For more information: Karen Braun, CPA, (Weatherhead School of Management) 216-3683532.

Ten Tips to Stay Physically and Mentally Healthy
  1. Eat a balanced diet that includes all food groups, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Do not overload that cafeteria food tray just because it is there. Think about portion size.
  2. Drink eight glasses of water a day and avoid soda pop and high calorie fruit drinks. Soda pop and alcoholic drinks are empty calories.
  3. Before a big exam, it is more important to sleep than to pull an “all-nighter” studying at the last minute.
  4. Schedule study times with the brightest students that you know in class. Surround yourself with the best. You will learn from your peers.
  5. Exercise and take advantage of the university recreational opportunities. This will help relieve stress, keep you in shape, and it's a great way to meet new friends.
  6. Be aware of the legal drinking ages of your university/state and policies of your college. When at parties, never accept an opened beverage. Open the beverage yourself. Don't put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation; think of the possible consequences.
  7. Maintain personal security. Lock your residence hall room when you are not there, even when you are just in the shower. Do not walk alone at night. Know the number of the after-hours escort service if your campus has one.
  8. College is an exercise for the mind and challenges you to think in new ways. Go to class and keep on top of assignments. Keep your values while learning more about the world around you.
  9. If you are on medications for any health reason, make certain that you have those prescriptions filled at home prior to leaving for school and keep copies of those prescriptions with you. If you have special needs (e.g. learning accommodations, mobility equipment), contact the office designated for student services as soon as you arrive on campus rather than wait until you encounter a problem with classes or room access.
  10. Program the university wide crisis warning system into your cell phone.

For more information:

Jill F. Kilanowski, Ph.D., RN, CPNP, (Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing) 216-368-0541.

Marjorie M. (Peg) Heinzer, Ph.D., PNP-BC, CRNP, (Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing) 216-368-5242.

Nine Tips to Reducing Stress and Building Resilience
  1. Never hesitate to seek out a tutor, mentor, therapist, spiritual adviser or someone older and wiser for help.
  2. Volunteer to help others when you are ready because giving to others is intrinsically rewarding and benevolent.
  3. Loneliness and isolation feeds stress. Join others in a dining hall conversation; raise your hand in class; meet friends at a coffee shop; walk between classes with a new acquaintance; join a group in the counseling center to learn about yourself and others.
  4. Leave obsessive self-doubt at childhood's gate; Strive to be OK with who you are. Learn to improve yourself without trying to be perfect.
  5. Meaningful relationships bring joy, satisfaction, self-esteem, mutual respect and love but it takes some determination to initiate and keep them going.
  6. Spiritual enrichment can improve your life; seek to learn about all religions and beliefs; adopt beliefs that will bring you peace along life's journey. Find the simple truths in life even if you don't believe in a god.
  7. Seek meaning in all that happens in life even in the face of occasional chaos. What makes little sense in the present can make an incredible amount of sense in the future.
  8. Employ the Scientific Method in the classroom and in your own life. Dare to have a hypothesis or perspective; challenge and test it; accept it or change it as your life progresses. Stress can close a mind to ideas and delay needed change.
  9. Take time to be by yourself. Learn how to be alone without being lonely.

For more information: Jes Sellers, Ph.D., director of University Counseling Center and director of the Center for Collegiate Behavioral Health, 216-368-5872.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, August 7, 2008 12:15 PM | News Topics: Campus Life, HeadlinesMain, Provost Initiatives, Students, features

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