Picture this: you’re studying for your toughest class when suddenly, you feel it. This uncomfortable, scratchy feeling in your throat that just won’t go away. You take some Advil, sip some tea and go to bed early that night, hoping that it will just go away. But it doesn’t. Soon enough, your sore throat has turned into a raging cold that has you taking Tylenol like it’s candy, and going through a box of tissues every hour. Great, you’re sick. And just in time for midterms.
There is never a “good” time to get sick. However, being away at school and coming down with something can add a whole different level of difficulty and frustration to your daily routine. As if being sick wasn’t torture enough, sitting through a two-hour lecture with a stuffy nose and a constant cough is miserable.
Being a college student means that missing class is often not an option, either. If students miss even one class, they’re often a chapter or more behind. In many college courses, students risk receiving a lower grade after a certain number of absences. Many professors have attendance policies, and who knows if they will be cooperative about absences and extending deadlines? Although sometimes missing class is necessary and important in a student’s recovery, it can add to their stress level, and take even longer to recover.
Many students travel away for college, meaning that they don’t have access to their normal health care and doctors. This can make seeing a doctor much harder. In high school, parents can simply drive their sick child to the doctor. They could get any prescriptions necessary, a note excusing their absence, and the trip was nothing more than a minor annoyance. The illness was usually greatly shortened by the quick treatment of the disease. In college, students may have a friend drive them to the doctor. Otherwise, they’re off to the campus health clinic, all alone with nary an excuse note in sight. College students will often deny their illness in its early phases due to all their responsibilities, delaying their treatment and often resulting in longer, lingering sicknesses.
Fortunately, most sicknesses college students encounter are not life-threatening, and only take a few days of rest to recover from. However, there are definitely ways to help avoid these germs. One of the most common ways to protect yourself is by washing your hands. A good rule of thumb is to sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself twice when washing your hands to make sure you really get rid of all the germs. Also, pay special attention to items that you and your roommates or suite mates touch multiple times a day, such as the doorknob or light switch, and always use hand sanitizer after touching these things.
If a student’s illness is more than just the common cold or a scratchy throat, they should seek help at the Center for Health and Wellness, located on the third floor of Elliot. Walk-ins are accepted from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Mondays through Fridays. If students get sick on the weekend or outside these hours, there are two urgent care centers within walking distance of campus. Additionally, there is an emergency room located approximately two miles away from campus, which is open 24/7.
Lindsay Gibbons can be contacted at