How to help students prepare for and ace their interviews

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Interviewing for a job or internship doesn’t have to be intimidating for students, whether they’re applying for an internship, volunteer position, or post-grad dream job. And yet it is. But acing an interview is often a case of practice makes perfect.

First steps to prep

Research the company

“One of the first questions students will most likely be asked is, ‘What do you know about our organization and this position?’” says Jason Henry, the coordinator of career and transfer services at Arkansas State University-Beebe. at Arkansas State University-Beebe. Talk with students about the importance of doing their homework to find out the organization’s values, mission, and day-to-day operations.

Prepare a highlight reel

“Students should also take time to reflect on their personal, academic, and work experiences so they can appropriately articulate to the interviewer how those past experiences have prepared them for that position,” Henry says. Encourage students to write these down and to bring these notes with them to the interview.

Even if a student is interviewing for their first job or internship, they can use in-class experiences to help convey how they’ll perform on the job. Encourage students to think of this like putting together a highlight reel of their greatest hits.

To help students talk about their experiences in an interview, have them run through these seven common interview questions with a career counselor.

Interviewees sitting in a waiting room

1. “What are your strengths?”

  • Students should provide enough detail for the interviewer to picture them in a working environment, including an example of problem-solving skills.
  • Students should also show enthusiasm for tasks that they’ve successfully completed.

2. “Tell me about yourself.”

This question allows students to zero in on what they want the interviewer to know. “It’s incumbent on the interviewee to be knowledgeable about the organization where they’re interviewing for a job,” says Henry. As such, students should use this question to talk about their experiences in a way that specifically highlights why they’re a perfect fit.

  • If there’s something concerning on a student’s résumé, such as a low GPA, have them think about how to frame it.
  • Stay on topic. Have them only talk about things that are relevant to the position, not their entire life story.

3. “Why should we choose you?”

Students should understand that the interviewer is asking what they can do for the organization—not how the organization can help the student.

  • Coach students to “use affirmative statements, such as ‘I will bring’ rather than ‘I hope I can bring,’” says Michelle Cook, a career and education counselor at Calgary Career Counseling in Alberta, Canada.
  • Make sure students align answers to the specifics of the job.
  • Phrases like “I’m a people person” have no meaning. What does have meaning is an example of how students have successfully worked with or helped others.

4. “Where do you want to be in five years?”

“The employer [just wants] to see that [the student has] some drive to learn and grow, in the role and in the company,” says Cook.

  • Students should bring the question back around to why they’re the right person for this opportunity.
  • Remind students to stay on track. This is about getting this job now, not their ultimate dreams.

5. “What are your weaknesses?”

  • While it’s important to be truthful and it’s OK to show a little vulnerability, coach students in crafting responses that bring the conversation back to reassuring the interviewer about their skills.

6. “Can you bring leadership skills to this position?”

  • Leadership comes in many forms. Here, students have an opportunity to highlight the ways in which they’ve positively influenced other people.

7. “Do you have any questions about this role or organization?”

  • Students should ask open-ended questions that demonstrate their interest in the organization or role.
  • “[Advise them not to] ask a question that [they] could have easily learned by doing some research,” says Cook. “Also, [they shouldn’t] ask questions about benefits, vacation, pay, etc.—leave these for when [they’re] offer[ed] the position.”

1. Cleaning up their online presence

Students should assume the interviewer will look at everything. Those photos with the red cups, their sloppy friend, or anything discriminatory—ensure they know to get rid of them.

2. Dressing conservatively

Let them know to always opt for conservative attire for the interview (e.g., dress pants and a button-up top or a knee-length dress with a blazer), and to wear an outfit that’s clean, crisp, and professional. And for more corporate, conservative settings, they should consider covering tattoos or piercings.

3. Avoiding bad-mouthing an old boss

Saying something negative about a previous employer can make the student look like they lack respect or that they might be difficult to work with. “It’s important for students to realize what it means to be a professional,” says Henry. “Professional employees go out of their way to leave any employment experience, regardless of how bad it may have been for them, on good terms with their employer and supervisor.”

4. Sending a follow-up note

Students should show the employer that they follow through with a thank-you email expressing their gratitude for the chance to learn more about the role after they leave the interview.

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Article sources

Michelle Cook, career and education counselor, Calgary Career Counseling, Alberta, Canada.

Jason Henry, coordinator of career and transfer services, Arkansas State University Beebe.

CampusWell survey, May 2018.

How to set campus food environments up for student success

Reading Time: 4 minutes

When it comes to helping students develop healthier food habits, science says being mindful of external food cues—not dieting—is key. In fact, research shows eating environments play a major role in the food choices we make—for better and for worse.

The good news for helping students make the most nutritious choices is that “[you can] set up your environment so that it helps you eat better,” says Dr. Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, and a leading researcher on how environmental cues affect our food choices.

The core of the philosophy is simple, says Dr. Wansink: “Change the convenience, the attractiveness, and how normal it is [for students] to eat the right foods.”

Here are eight ways to make it happen on your campus.

1. Shine a spotlight on nutritious foods.

“If you’re going to have food visible, make it [healthy] food,” says Dr. Wansink. We’re three times more likely to eat the first food we see than the fifth food we spot, according to a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, so work with campus food vendors to put the healthiest items front and center. For example, stock vending machines with the healthiest choices at eye level and stash the not-so-nutritious picks in the corners.

2. Make unhealthy choices less accessible.

Where possible, eliminate unhealthy items from campus menus entirely. A 2014 study of university students found that even when healthier items, such as rice, were offered alongside less healthy items, like fries, many students continued to gravitate toward the unhealthy choice, according to the findings published in BMC Public Health. If you must have junk food on or near campus, make it as inconvenient for students as possible.

Salad bar options

3. Make healthy choices more affordable.

Putting healthier choices in front of students won’t matter if they can’t afford them. Work with vendors to subsidize the cost of nutritious picks and allow high prices on junk food to serve as a deterrent. The BMC Public Health study also found that when nutritious options were free to students, they were much more likely to choose them.

4. Stock personal portions.

Stock campus convenience stores and snack spots with individually portioned snacks—not big bags of chips. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that eating out of a larger container led participants to eat up to 50 percent more.

5. Promote portion control in the dining hall.

The size of the bowl or plate we use is important too. The smaller the bowl, the less you’re likely to eat, according to a 2012 study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, which found that students who served themselves from a large communal bowl ate double the normal portion size. In campus cafeterias and dining halls, limit the use of large serving bowls by setting up smaller food stations where students can serve themselves from smaller containers.

Water coolers with lemon

6. Streamline food spaces.

Messy spaces tend to stress us out, which could lead us to reach for more sweet snacks, suggests a 2016 study published in the journal Environment and Behavior. Keep this in mind when designing eating areas on campus to keep cafeterias and eating spaces as clean and organized as possible.

7. Choose the right container.

Behavior scientists at Google found that the simple act of placing office candy in an opaque container versus a clear jar made a huge difference in how much employees consumed (they ate fewer M&M’s® over a seven-week period). In offices and buildings that students frequent, such as counseling and health centers, place healthy picks, such as fruit and nuts, in glass jars and bowls, and put the candy in a dark container—or eliminate it entirely.

8. Sip smarter.

The same principles apply to beverages available to students. Keep sugary sodas in inconvenient locations, if they’re offered at all, and make plain water more convenient and readily available on campus. Consider adding glass coolers filled with water and sliced fruit to eating spaces to promote healthier sipping habits.

[school_resource sh101resources=’no’ category=’mobileapp,healthservices, studentlife, wellnesspromotion, dining’] Get help or find out more Article sources

Jenna Heller, MS, RD, dietician at Arizona State University.

Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness in New York and author of Three Steps to a Healthier You.

Brian Wansink, PhD, director of Cornell University Food and Brand Lab.

Bush, H. E., Rossy, L., Mintz, L. B., & Schopp, L. (2014). Eat for life: A work site feasibility study of a novel mindfulness-based intuitive eating intervention. American Journal of Health Promotion, 28(6), 380–388. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.120404-QUAN-186

Chandon, P., & Wansink, B. (2002). When are stockpiled products consumed faster? A convenience-salience framework of postpurchase consumption incidence and quantity. Journal of Marketing Research, 39(3), 321–335.

Fothergill, E., Guo, J., Howard, L., Kerns, J. C., et al. (2016). Persistent metabolic adaptation six years after The Biggest Loser competition. Obesity, 24(8), 1612–1619. doi: 10.1002/oby.21538

Kang, C. (2013, September 1). Google crunches data on munching in the office. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/google-crunches-data-on-munching-in-office/2013/09/01/3902b444-0e83-11e3-85b6-d27422650fd5_story.html

Obesity Prevention Source. (n.d.). Healthy food and beverage access. Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-prevention/food-environment/healthy-food-beverage-access/

Taylor, C., Berrington, L., & Boerner, H. (2016, September 1). Food hacks for an unhealthy world. Student Health 101. Retrieved from https://demonstration.getsh101.com/food-hacks-unhealthy-world/#divSurvey_plugin

Van Kleef, E., Shimizu, M., & Wansink, B. (2012). Serving bowl selection biases the amount of food served. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 44(1), 66–70.

Vartanian, L. R., Kernan, K. M., & Wansink, B. (2016). Clutter, chaos, and overconsumption: The role of mind-set in stressful and chaotic food environments. Environment and Behavior. Online First: doi: 10.1177/0013916516628178

Wansink, B., & Van Ittersum, K. (2007). Portion size me: Downsizing our consumption norms. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 107(7), 1103–1106.

Best Morning Concept

Sleep debt might be the reason you’re always tired—here’s how to avoid it

Reading Time: 9 minutes

When you’re all revved up for the new semester, it’s easy to skip sleep in favor of diving into your new coursework. OK, it’s easy to skip sleep in favor of Insta-scrolling, Netflix-watching, nacho-eating, just about anything. If you find yourself going too far into the wee hours of the night too often, you can technically make up a few late nights by sleeping in for a few days—but you might still be racking up serious sleep debt.

“Sleep debt is an accumulation of sleep deprivation,” says Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist in California and fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Think of your sleep like a savings account, where the minimum balance has to be roughly eight hours a night (some of us might need more or less)—for every night you don’t put that amount in your sleep account, you accumulate overall sleep debt. And trust us, that can add up fast. Sleep debt is pretty common—70 percent of college students reported that they snag less than eight hours a night, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health. 

Why does it matter? Not unlike managing your bank account, accumulating sleep debt can leave you feeling depleted. Lack of sleep can mess with:

Academic performance Students who are sleep deprived struggle more academically and are at a higher risk of failing compared with those who are getting enough rest on a consistent basis, says a 2014 study in Nature and Science of Sleep. “Sleep deprivation affects cognitive function directly and quickly,” says Dr. Breus.

In studies, sleep and GPA are related, but not necessarily in the ways you’d think. Consistent sleep and wake times may have more of a grade-boosting effect than logging more hours, according to a 2014 analysis of recent research in Nature and Science of Sleep. It’s not just about how long you’re sleeping, but how consistent your sleep schedule is (or isn’t).

Mood Female college students who reported nightly sleep debts of two hours or more were significantly more likely to report depressive symptoms than those with smaller debts, a 2010 study in Psychiatry Research found. What are depressive symptoms? They include everything from changes in appetite to lack of focus to blues you just can’t shake. (And this is a serious thing: If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, reach out to a friend, trusted professor, or a counselor on your campus or in your community. Because help is out there, and you matter.)

Body Sleep debt affects your bod in a number of ways: It increases the production of your hunger hormones (while suppressing the hormones that tell you you’re full), raises levels of your stress hormones, and even messes with your body’s ability to use sugar effectively, according to a 2010 meta-analysis of studies in Pediatric Endocrinology.

Sleep debt can snowball fast. The more sleep deprived you are, the less likely you might be to notice. So how do you know—and how do you fix it?

How to tell if you’re in debt

The simplest way to tell if you’re racking up sleep debt is to do the math. If the average young adult needs eight hours of sleep each night and you get only six most days of the week, by the time Friday rolls around you’re 10 hours in debt.

In most cases, the ideal level of sleep needed to keep your balance in the black is individual, says Dr. Shelley Hershner, director of the Collegiate Sleep Disorder Clinic at the University of Michigan. The average person needs somewhere between seven and nine hours nightly, but “your absolute best judgment of whether you are getting enough sleep is if you can wake up at the time you’re supposed to without an alarm clock,” she says.

Here are some other signs you might be in sleep debt:

  • You can’t sit through a lecture without getting drowsy or even nodding off.
  • You fall asleep the second your head hits the pillow.
  • You don’t wake up until the second your alarm goes off. (During a healthy night’s sleep, you should actually go through cycles of slight wakefulness.)
  • You feel drowsy during downtime, like while reading or watching TV.

To figure out how much sleep you need, test your sleep limits during a break from school when you have a solid three to four weeks to sleep as much as you want, says Dr. Hershner. “For the first week or two, you’ll probably still be catching up, but by the third week, how much you’re sleeping should be a good indication of how much your body actually needs.”

How to get out of debt

Technically, you can “pay off” your sleep debt by making up those missed hours every weekend, but playing catch-up by sleeping your weekends away isn’t ideal, partially because you’ll throw off your sleep schedule for the following week. That contributes to—you guessed it—more sleep debt. The most realistic way to get out of sleep debt is by preventing it in the first place. And the beginning of the year is the best time to do that.

Here’s how:

15 minutes earlier to bed; 15 minutes later to rise

“Would I like students to get eight hours every night? Yes. Do I think that’s realistic? No,” says Dr. Hershner. If getting to bed an hour earlier every night seems about as likely as your professors canceling lecture in favor of a class party, try to make small schedule changes like getting to bed 15 minutes earlier and streamlining your morning routine so you can sleep 15 minutes longer. You just clocked 30 more minutes.

Take one less social media break a day (Just. One.)

An easy way to score yourself those extra 15 minutes at night is to cut out one social media break during the day. We know tech use affects sleep, but interestingly enough, sleep also affects tech use: When you’re sleep deprived, you spend more time aimlessly scrolling on Facebook, suggests 2016 research from the University of California, Irvine. The higher your sleep balance, the more time you can bank toward an earlier bedtime.

Be strategic about your class schedule

“If you can have a 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. class, you’ll probably do better than if you schedule an 8 a.m. class,” says Dr. Hershner. Look for classes that have later schedules or offer recorded video lectures so you can tune in anytime.

Learn to love the nap

Girl napping on a couch

Studies show that students who take more naps do better in class. College students with GPAs of 3.5 and higher were much more likely to be nappers than were their peers with lower GPAs in a 2010 study in Sleep and Breathing. Just make sure you don’t snooze after 3 p.m., says Dr. Hershner. “That can throw off your nighttime sleep.”

Be consistent

According to Dr. Hershner, you want to try to prevent sleep debt by getting into good sleep habits—so it’s not great to fall back on the idea that you can make up all that lost sleep on the weekends. “Don’t sleep more than one to two hours longer on the weekend than you do during the week,” she says. “Say you sleep until 1 p.m. on Sunday—then it makes it hard for you to fall asleep by the time you need to get enough sleep for Monday. You’re already starting the week off behind.”

Keep your tech at arm’s length

The blue light emitted from your laptop or phone suppresses your levels of melatonin, a hormone that affects your circadian rhythms, says Harvard Health Publications. And that isn’t a good thing for your sleep. If you’re not going to unplug entirely, at least switch on your phone’s blue light filter and don’t hold it so close to you. “You want [your tech] as far from the face as possible,” says Dr. Hershner.

Use your computer after class and books before bed

Someone reading in bed

To cut out computer usage before bed, schedule your studying so you can get any computer work out of the way earlier in the evening and switch to books in the hour before bed. “If your reading is all online, print out a few chapters to read so you can shut off the computer,” says Dr. Hershner.

Track your Zs

“I have a Fitbit that tracks my sleep, so I know how much I get,” says Brandon B., a fourth-year graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Seeing the numbers helps me.” Dr. Hershner cautions that wearable trackers aren’t always accurate, but the idea behind tracking your sleep is solid if seeing your stats motivates you to stay on track. If you don’t use a wearable, explore other options that help you feel accomplished for getting a good night’s sleep, like keeping a sleep journal or using an app. We like Sleep Cycle alarm clock, and we think you might too.

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Flip your phone

Ironically enough, the more you worry about getting into sleep debt, the harder it might be for you to fall asleep. To avoid the anxiety, don’t keep a clock within view, says Dr. Hershner. Turn your alarm clock so it faces away from you and flip your phone over and put it on airplane mode when you go to sleep.

[survey_plugin]
Article sources

Michael Breus, PhD, clinical psychologist; fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Los Angeles, California.

Shelley Hershner, MD, director of the Collegiate Sleep Disorder Clinic, University of Michigan.

DiGiulio, S. (2016, April 20). The surprising way colleges are helping their students sleep more. [Blog]. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sleep-class-college-courses-teach-students-how-to-sleep_us_571578bae4b0060ccda425a2

Eliasson, A. H., Lettieri, C. J., & Eliasson, A. H. (2010). Early to bed, early to rise! Sleep habits and academic performance in college students. Sleep and Breathing, 14(1), 71–75.

Greenbaum, D. (2016, July 26). The 5 best night filters for Android. Guiding Tech. Retrieved from https://www.guidingtech.com/60491/best-android-night-filters/

Harvard Health Publications. (2015, September 2). Blue light has a dark side. Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side

Hershner, S., & Chervin, R. D. (2014). Causes and consequences of sleepiness among college students. Nature and Science of Sleep, 6, 73–84. doi:10.2147/NSS.S62907

Huffington Post. (2013, June 2). Sleeping tips: 7 ways to get to bed earlier tonight. [Blog]. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/02/sleeping-tips-earlier-bedtime_n_3359469.html

Ku Leuven. (2014). Want better marks? Get a good night’s sleep. Kuleuven.be. Retrieved from https://www.kuleuven.be/english/news/2014/for-better-marks-get-a-good-nights-sleep

Leproult, R., & Van Couter, E. (2010). Role of sleep and sleep loss in hormonal release and metabolism. Pediatric Neuroendocrinology, 17, 11–21. doi:10.1159/000262524

Lund, H. G., Reider, B. D., Whiting, A. B., & Pritchard, J. R. (2010). Sleep patterns and predictors of disturbed sleep in a large population of college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46(2), 124–132.

Mark, M., Wang, Y., Niiya, M., & Reich, S. (2016, May 12). Sleep debt in student life: Online attention focus, Facebook, and mood. Paper presented at Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, San Jose, California. Retrieved from https://www.ics.uci.edu/~gmark/Home_page/Research_files/Chi16%20Sleep.pdf

Mercola, J. (2016, March 3). What happens in your body when you’re sleep deprived. Mercola.com. Retrieved from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/03/03/sleep-deprivation-effects.aspx

Milewski, M. D., Skaggs, D. L., Bishop, G. A., Pace, J. L., et al. (2014, March). Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes. Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, 34(2), 129–33. doi:10.1097/BPO.0000000000000151

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2012, February 22). Strategies for getting enough sleep. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/strategies

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Waxman, O. (2014, August 29). Napping around: Colleges provide campus snooze rooms. Time. Retrieved from https://time.com/3211964/nap-rooms-at-universities/

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5 tried-and-true money saving tips for students

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Get used to hearing this one—college is expensive. You’re either feeling the effects now (oh hey, double shifts at the library and attending lots of irrelevant events for free pizza), or you’ll be feeling them later, you know, when the loans go into repayment. Either way, we could all use some help keeping our expenses low and our balances high(er). Here are some tried-and-true money-saving tips that can keep college costs in check.

1. Buying new books is a rookie move

Who knew books could be so expensive? Oh, wait—we did. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy into the idea that new is better. In most cases, new is unnecessary. Go for used or even rentals, which you can get from your library for free or online at a lower cost. And don’t count out e-books. These are often more affordable and have the added bonus of being environmentally friendly. Just make sure the e-book includes all the pieces you’ll need, such as a digital access code for supplemental online content.

Before you shell out $500 for a new bio book, check out the best sites for book deals, recommended by students like you:

2. Decorating your space is an interpretive art

That picturesque collection of extra-long sheets and coordinating lampshades is lying to you. You can get just as much use out of a Craigslist desk and Grandma’s throw pillows—and you might even get more friends because of it. The point here is that your ideal room or apartment décor might be better suited for your first paycheck after graduation. That doesn’t mean you can’t make your space feel like home; you just need to be a little flexible doing it.

Shop around on sites like Craigslist and OfferUp (but make sure you’re putting safety before a good deal here because this can get weird—try to meet in a neutral, public location and take a roommate, friend, or bodyguard with you). And don’t discount Facebook Marketplace or other social media groups where students can buy, sell, and trade old stuff. Your school might have one just for students looking for the futon of their dreams. Check it out.

“My first couch was threadbare and hideous, but it was free, and a neutral slipcover made it work in my apartment.”
—Emily, fourth-year undergraduate, University of Windsor, Canada

3. Stick it out for sales

If you can swing it, hold off on buying supplies—sans the essentials, of course—for the first few weeks of the semester. A lot of stores put office, desk, and room supplies on sale after the big rush, and that means you can get a lot more goods for your green. So treat yourself to that extra-plush body pillow; your patience paid off.

4. Move beyond the microwave—or learn to cook with it

Those double XL coffees from the café add up fast, and those meal plans can be expensive. We’re talking $1,000 to $3,500 per semester expensive depending on your school, according to a 2015 NBC News report. Ouch. Many schools offer a range of meal plan options, and choosing a smaller one might save you some money. You still have to eat, though, so shrinking your meal plan goes along with expanding your kitchen skills.

Before we lose you completely, this is an awesome time in your life to learn to make some basics, like pasta, tacos, roasted vegetables, and killer quiches. You don’t even need to make peace with the oven to get going here. Check out our article on five recipes you can make in a microwave to get started.

5. Where you live matters

First year on campus? You’re probably hanging out with some roommates in a res hall. But that might not be the most financially savvy option for all four years. “Depending on where you go to school, living off campus with a few roommates could be less expensive than living in a [residence hall]. At other campuses, [residence halls] are the best value,” says Amy Marty Conrad, director of the CashCourse program, part of the National Endowment for Financial Education that helps students plan how to pay for college.

Bottom line: Do your research. The default option isn’t always the most affordable option, and you owe it to yourself to figure that out. Check with your school too—some colleges require students to live on campus for a certain amount of time. And don’t forget about the live-at-home option. It may not be your fav now, but the financial freedom you’ll have after graduation could get you closer to the life you want. It’s all about those goals.

“Bulletin boards on the school campus always offer different options for housing like renting a room, needing a roommate, [and] cheaper apartments or studios.”
—Alexander, fourth-year undergraduate, College of the Desert, California

6. Your student ID is a magical, money-saving thing

Your student ID is so much more than a close-up of your face on your first day on campus. It’s essentially gold—and it can save you some too. Businesses want your business any way they can get it, and that usually means that they’ll cut you some slack in your student years. But you have to know what it gets you, and you have to be willing to ask. Some retailers might not advertise discounts, and others might only grant them to the brave few willing to ask the question. It’s worth it to do so, even if they say no.

And remember, this applies to way more than just clothes and food. Car insurance, flights back home, and an evening at the museum are all things you can save on with proof of your student status. Use it before you graduate and take a moment of silence for all the money you save. Or don’t.

What can a student discount do for you? Check out some of the deals here.

Bonus tip: Build (and stick to) a budget

While we’re here, be sure you’re sticking to your budget by having one in the first place. It’s OK if you’re new to tracking your finances; in fact, that’s the best place to start. Try a budgeting app like Mint and see where you can make adjustments. Remember, small tweaks can mean big savings. You got this.

[school_resource sh101resources=’no’ category=’mobileapp,counselingservices, healthservices, wellnesspromotion, drugandlcohol, residentlife’] Get help or find out more [survey_plugin] Article sources

Amy Marty Conrad, director, CashCourse, Denver, Colorado.

Borges, A. (2016, August 23). The 6 best sites for scoring cheap textbooks. Her Campus. Retrieved from https://www.hercampus.com/life/academics/6-best-sites-scoring-cheap-textbooks

Durand, F. (2016, September 14). 11 things we wish we had known about cooking in college. The Kitchn. Retrieved from https://www.thekitchn.com/11-things-we-wish-we-had-known-about-cooking-in-college-208283=

Jhaveri, A. (2016, August 2). 22 healthy college recipes you can make in your dorm room. Greatist. Retrieved from https://greatist.com/eat/healthy-dorm-room-recipes

Krrb. (n.d.). 37 money saving college life hacks. Blog.krrb.com. Retrieved from https://blog.krrb.com/37-money-saving-college-life-hacks/

National Endowment for Financial Education. (n.d.). CashCourse. Retrieved from https://info.cashcourse.org/#

Pack, R. (2016, July 19). 25 essential dorm room cooking hacks. Daily Meal. Retrieved from https://www.thedailymeal.com/25-essential-dorm-room-cooking-hacks

White, M. C. (2015, August 25). School meal plans convenient, costly…and sometimes required. NBC News. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/freshman-year/school-meal-plans-convenient-costly-sometimes-required-n415676

Are your students struggling with sleep debt? Here’s how to help

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Student loan debt isn’t the only deficit students have to worry about—sleep debt can also leave them feeling depleted. “Sleep debt is an accumulation of sleep deprivation,” says Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist in California and fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. It’s a big issue: Nearly 70 percent of college students reported that they sleep less than eight hours a night, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Sleep problems rank third on students’ list of issues that affect their academic success, according to the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment (Fall 2016).

Sleep debt can affect students’ overall mental, physical, and emotional health, including:

Graduation capAcademic performance Students who are sleep deprived struggle more academically and are at a higher risk of failing compared with those who are getting enough rest on a consistent basis, says a 2014 study in Nature and Science of Sleep. “Sleep deprivation affects cognitive function directly and quickly,” says Dr. Breus.

Sad/ sick emojiMood Female college students who reported nightly sleep debts of two hours or more were significantly more likely to report depressive symptoms than those with smaller debts, a 2010 study in Psychiatry Research found.

Short of physically putting students to bed each night, how can administrators, faculty, and staff build a campus that promotes healthy sleep rather than one that glamorizes all-nighters? Here are some places to start:   

Spread sleep hygiene awareness

Only a quarter of students report that they’re getting information from their colleges about healthy sleep habits, according to the National College Health Assessment (Fall 2016). But over 60 percent of students say they want that information. To close the gap, launch a public awareness campaign and train student leaders and staff to share strategies for building healthy sleep habits. A semester-long study at Macalester College in Minnesota, found that students who received sleep health information from campus staff two or three times throughout the semester reported fewer negative sleep habits.

Offer a sleep course

Creating a class about sleep is a way to boost students’ sleep hygiene. Stanford University in California created a course dedicated to sleep behaviors back in the 1970s. Today, it’s so popular there’s a wait list. Based on Stanford’s success, New York University, the University of Missouri, and others have implemented similar courses. And so can you.

Educate your educators

Campus staff can sometimes be in the best position to spot widespread sleep deprivation, so don’t stop the awareness campaign with students. Train college professionals to be able to provide information to students and intervene if they notice their students are routinely nodding off in class.

Create a sleep-friendly space on campus

Studies show that students who take more naps do better in class. College students with GPAs of 3.5 and higher were much more likely to be nappers than were their peers with lower GPAs in a 2010 study in Sleep and Breathing. With that in mind, nap pods, library cots, and special nap rooms on campus are becoming more popular. Schools like the University of Michigan and James Madison University in Virginia have established campus nap zones to make it easier for students to practice good sleep habits with the same diligence they approach good study habits.

Article sources

Michael Breus, PhD, fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Los Angeles, California.

Shelley Hershner, MD, director of the Collegiate Sleep Disorders Clinic, University of Michigan.

DiGiulio, S. (2016, April 20). The surprising way colleges are helping their students sleep more. [Blog]. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/sleep-class-college-courses-teach-students-how-to-sleep_us_571578bae4b0060ccda425a2

Eliasson, A. H., Lettieri, C. J., & Eliasson, A. H. (2010). Early to bed, early to rise! Sleep habits and academic performance in college students. Sleep and Breathing, 14(1), 71–75.

Greenbaum, D. (2016, July 26). The 5 best night filters for Android. Guiding Tech. Retrieved from https://www.guidingtech.com/60491/best-android-night-filters/

Harvard Health Publications. (2015, September 2). Blue light has a dark side. Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side

Hershner, S., & Chervin, R. D. (2014). Causes and consequences of sleepiness among college students. Nature and Science of Sleep, 6, 73–84. doi:10.2147/NSS.S62907

Huffington Post. (2013, June 2). Sleeping tips: 7 ways to get to bed earlier tonight. [Blog]. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/02/sleeping-tips-earlier-bedtime_n_3359469.html

Ku Leuven. (2014). Want better marks? Get a good night’s sleep. Kuleuven.be. Retrieved from https://www.kuleuven.be/english/news/2014/for-better-marks-get-a-good-nights-sleep

Leproult, R., & Van Couter, E. (2010). Role of sleep and sleep loss in hormonal release and metabolism. Pediatric Neuroendocrinology, 17, 11–21. doi:10.1159/000262524

Lund, H. G., Reider, B. D., Whiting, A. B., & Pritchard, J. R. (2010). Sleep patterns and predictors of disturbed sleep in a large population of college students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 46(2), 124–132.

Mark, M., Wang, Y., Niiya, M., & Reich, S. (2016, May 12). Sleep debt in student life: Online attention focus, Facebook, and mood. Paper presented at Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, San Jose, California. Retrieved from https://www.ics.uci.edu/~gmark/Home_page/Research_files/Chi16%20Sleep.pdf

Mercola, J. (2016, March 3). What happens in your body when you’re sleep deprived. Mercola.com. Retrieved from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/03/03/sleep-deprivation-effects.aspx

Milewski, M. D., Skaggs, D. L., Bishop, G. A., Pace, J. L., et al. (2014, March). Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes. Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, 34(2), 129–33. doi:10.1097/BPO.0000000000000151

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2012, February 22) Strategies for getting enough sleep. National Health Institutes. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/strategies

National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). How to get rid of sleep debt. Sleep.org. Retrieved from https://sleep.org/articles/get-rid-of-sleep-debt/

National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). Say goodbye to sleep debt. Sleep.org. Retrieved from https://sleep.org/articles/say-goodbye-sleep-debt/

Potkin, K. T., & Bunney, W. E. (2012, August). Sleep improves memory: The effect of sleep on long term memory in early adolescence. PLOS One, 7(8). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042191

Pritchard, J., Cunningham, B., & Broek, L. (2013). Enhancing college student sleep: Programming strategies that could work on your campus. American College Health Association. Retrieved from https://www.cccstudentmentalhealth.org/docs/misc/EnhancingCollegeStudentSleep-ProgrammingStrategies.pdf

Regestein, Q., Natarajan, V., Pavlova, M., Kawasaki, S., et al. (2010, March 30). Sleep debt and depression in female college students. Psychiatry Research, 176(1), 34–39. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2008.11.006

Waxman, O. (2014, August 29). Napping around: Colleges provide campus snooze rooms. Time. Retrieved from https://time.com/3211964/nap-rooms-at-universities/

Webster, M. (2008, May 6). Can you catch up on lost sleep? Scientific American. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-can-you-catch-up-on-sleep/

Why students should add active rest to their workout routine

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When it comes to talking to students about physical activity, we typically encourage them to get more of it. But the opposite end of the spectrum—overtraining—can be just as unhealthy. “We can’t skip the recovery aspect of training and expect the body to respond and grow lean muscle tissue,” says Ashley Borden, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and athletic trainer in Los Angeles.

Not scheduling enough rest in a workout routine causes what trainers call “overreaching.” Just a week of overreaching can cause immune system dysfunction, making students more susceptible to any illnesses that might be flying around the hallways, according to a 2007 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology. When you consistently overtrain like this, “[students are] more susceptible to infections, might have difficulty sleeping, and have greater stress,” explains Dr. Bruce Gladden, director of the Muscle Physiology Lab at Auburn University in Georgia. Prolonged overtraining has even been shown to contribute to or cause adrenal insufficiency (a condition that causes the adrenal glands to produce insufficient amounts of vital hormones, which can cause extreme fatigue and decreased appetite), according to a 2013 research review published in Novel Physiotherapies. And on top of that, training too intensely can lead to overuse injuries.

Enter the need for active rest—a period of low-intensity activity, such as walking or stretching, that allows students to keep up their fitness momentum while promoting healthy muscle recovery. “Active rest is participating in activity with a reduced load compared to what is considered [your] normal workout,” says Scott Oliaro, head athletic trainer and associate director of sports medicine at the University of North Carolina. “This can include changing the activity (bike or swim instead of running), reducing the mileage of a run, or changing the duration of activity.”

It may seem counterintuitive, but scheduling regular bouts of active rest can actually help students be more physically active. “The key about taking a rest, and especially if it can be moderately active, is that you feel better the next day,” says Dr. Edward Coyle, a professor of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas at Austin. “If you feel better in your training, that allows you to train more intensely.”

To help students create healthy, balanced exercise routines, follow these expert tips:

1. Stress the importance of active rest

Students tend to think they can push through anything. While they may be able to muscle through intense gym session after intense gym session, that doesn’t mean they should. Provide information about the consequences skipping recovery will have in the short and long term. “The increase in tissue stress without repair leads to increased stress and tissue breakdown,” says Oliaro. “This can lead to stress fractures, tendinopathy, or other soft tissue injury that will limit or shut down training.”

2. Promote active rest as a self-care strategy

At a moment where students are super attuned to mindfulness and self-care strategies like meditation, tout the stress-reducing benefits of active rest. While high-intensity exercise raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body, low-intensity exercise doesn’t, according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation. Further, when researchers tested the impacts of various activity levels in moderately active participants, they found that active rest—defined as 40 percent of maximum workout effort—actually lowered cortisol levels. Engaging in a form of active rest, like going for a walk between classes, can be a great strategy for a stress-free finals week.

3. Share info from exercise departments on campus

Knowledge is power. Encourage students to take physical activity classes. “It’s a way to learn more about doing exercise correctly,” says Dr. Gladden. Make research from the kinesiology or exercise science department more accessible to students by hosting department workshops or “lunch and learns” to help students understand the balance of exercise and recovery.

4. Host campus clinics

It’s also important to take advantage of on-campus wellness centers and gyms—places where students are already going to work with coaches or trainers. Host a school event with local trainers, or turn student athletes into campus celebs by having them lead a fun run/walk.

Get help or find out more Article sources

Ashley Borden, certified strength and conditioning specialist and athletic trainer.

Edward Coyle, PhD, professor of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas at Austin.

Bruce Gladden, PhD, director of the Muscle Physiology Lab at Auburn University in Georgia.

Scott Oliaro, head athletic trainer and associate director of sports medicine at the University of North Carolina.

Brooks, K. A., & Carter, J. G. (2013). Overtraining, exercise, and adrenal insufficiency. Novel Physiotherapies, 3(1). doi: 10.4172/2165-7025.1000125

Burandt, P., Porcari, J. P., Cress, M. L., Doberstein, S., et al. (October 2016). Putting mini trampolines to the test. American Council on Exercise. Retrieved from https://www.acefitness.org/certifiednews/images/article/pdfs/ACE_MiniTrampoline.pdf?utm_source=Rakuten&utm_medium=10&ranMID=42334&ranEAID=TnL5HPStwNw&ranSiteID=TnL5HPStwNw-NK8ONx.a3JUjBMDAugurPQ

Evidence-Based Fitness. (February 17, 2008). Rest vs. active recovery. Retrieved from https://evidencebasedfitness.net/rest-vs-active-recovery/

Gleeson, M. (2007). Immune function in sport and exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology, 103(2), 693–699. doi: 0.1152/japplphysiol.00008.2007

Hill, E. E., Zack, E., Battaglini, C. Viru, M., et al. (2008). Exercise and circulating cortisol levels: The intensity threshold effect. Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, 31(7), 587–591. doi: 10.1007/BF03345606

Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Addison’s disease symptoms and causes. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/addisons-disease/symptoms-causes/dxc-20155757

Mika, A., Olesky, L., Kielnar, R., Wodka-Natkaniec, E., et al. (2016). Comparison of two different modes of active recovery on muscles’ performance after fatiguing exercise in mountain canoeist and football players. PLoS One, 11(10). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164216

Mike, J. N., & Kravitz, L. (n.d.). Recovery in training: The essential ingredient. University of New Mexico. Retrieved from https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/recoveryUNM.html

Ode, G. (February 29, 2016). What is the difference between tendonitis, tendinosis, and tendinopathy? Sports-Health. Retrieved from https://www.sports-health.com/sports-injuries/general-injuries/what-difference-between-tendonitis-tendinosis-and-tendinopathy

Talk it out: The science behind therapy and how it can help you

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New class expectations, new living situations, and navigating newfound independence can give us all the feels—from super psyched to super stressed. Even if you’re loving your student life, dealing with all the stressors that come with college can be a lot to handle. According to experts, the best time to handle that stress is now. “If we don’t take care of our mental health, we may not be able to reach our goals, maintain good relationships, and function well in day-to-day situations,” says Dr. Chrissy Salley, a psychologist in New York who works with students of all ages. “Taking care of mental health is one of the best things someone can do.”

Now really is the time to start tuning into your mental health—the majority of mental health issues appear to begin between the ages of 14 and 24, according to a review of the World Health Organization World Mental Health surveys and other research (Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 2007). But help is available. Along with methods like mindfulness and meditation, talking to a therapist (such as a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist) can be a super-effective way to manage any mental health issue you may be facing or just a way to get extra support during times of stress, challenge, celebration, or change.

There’s a ton of research on how effective therapy really is—a 2015 meta-analysis of 15 studies of college students with depression found that outcomes were nearly 90 percent better for those who received therapeutic treatment than for those in control groups, most of whom received no treatment (Depression and Anxiety).

One of the most common and effective therapies is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a short-term, goal-oriented therapy where a pro helps you find practical ways to deal with specific problems.

Girl with "believe in your dream" written on her hand

The goal of CBT is to help you change or reframe certain thought processes—the idea is that by changing your attitude about something, you can change your behaviors. For example, if you think something like, “I’m terrible at chemistry, so I know I’m going to fail this test—there’s no use studying,” you probably won’t ace your test. CBT can help you shift your thinking to something more like, “I know chemistry is really hard for me, but studying will help me do better.”

And it works. There’s strong evidence that this therapeutic technique can help you handle just about anything you might have going on, according to a 2012 analysis of over 200 studies on CBT published in Cognitive Therapy and Research. The researchers found that CBT was effective for people struggling with anxiety, bulimia, anger issues, stress, and a number of other mental health issues.

OK, so we know that therapy is an essential and effective tool for keeping your mental health at its peak, but making that first appointment can feel intimidating. It doesn’t have to be. Our experts break down the therapy basics so you can embrace whatever you need to feel your best. Here’s what the pros want you to know.

1 Seeing a therapist is totally common —more people are doing it than you think.

Surveys show it’s not out of the ordinary to see a therapist—55 percent of college students have used campus counseling services, according to a 2012 report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. If you feel uncomfortable with the idea of going to see a therapist, you’re not alone—and that’s totally OK, says Zachary Alti, a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, and professor at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service in New York. “Few people look forward to therapy, but students should be aware that therapy exists to help them, not to judge them,” he says. The process might not always be comfortable, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. “I’d encourage students to keep an open mind and try it,” says Dr. Salley.

2 Therapy is more than talking through feelings— it’s about building skills and solving problems.

“Many [young people] tell me they’re reluctant to participate in therapy because they don’t want to talk about their feelings,” Dr. Salley says. Again, that’s totally normal. But going to therapy isn’t just about talking about how you feel; it’s also about walking away with real tools you can use in your life. “Therapy should also be action oriented—a time to learn new skills for coping and figuring out ways to solve problems,” Dr. Salley says.

3 Seeing a therapist is like going to the gym. For your brain.

“Therapy is like physical exercise,” says Alti. Just like hitting the gym is good for everyone’s physical health—not just those with diabetes or heart disease—seeing a therapist can benefit everyone’s mental health.

Student perspective “Therapy should be considered as important as going to the doctor for a regular checkup. It is a way to get in touch with yourself and to be grounded enough to deal with issues that life presents before things feel like they’re too much to handle.” —First-year graduate student, Royal Holloway University of London

4 It’s smart to see a therapist before things feel totally overwhelming.

But really, any time is a good time to go. While anxiety and depression are still the most common reasons students seek counseling, according to a 2016 annual report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, you don’t have to be in the midst of a crisis or feel like you’re nearing a breakdown to see a pro—seeing a therapist can be helpful even when things are all good. “There are a lot of pink flags before you get to red ones,” says Dr. Dana Crawford, an individual and family therapist in New York. “Keeping things from becoming extreme is always better.” In other words, don’t wait for an emergency to take care of your mental health. “When bad things do happen, mental health will protect against the impact of these unfortunate events,” adds Alti.

Student perspective

“Being able to just have someone to really listen has promoted a lot of self-discovery. I trust my therapist with everything and I feel like he genuinely cares about what I have to say. He asks me questions that make me think about why I feel and do the things that I do. Once I know where something comes from, I can change it. It’s easier said than done, but it’s not something I think I could do on my own.”
—Second-year undergraduate student, University of Alabama

5 Therapists can help you handle change.

Real talk: College is full of huge life changes. “Even positive changes can be stressful,” says Dr. Salley. Luckily, therapists are particularly skilled at helping their clients deal with these transitions. “Having someone to talk to can be helpful, especially as you encounter new situations and people,” she says. While you’re dealing with a new set of responsibilities and expectations (everything from picking the right major to sorting through awkward roommate issues), a therapist can help you pinpoint how all the changes are impacting you and sort through the onslaught of emotions that everyone feels during this time.

6 Finding the right therapist is like finding the right pair of jeans.

Therapists aren’t one-size-fits-all—sometimes you have to try a few before you find the right fit. Don’t get turned off if your first therapy appointment isn’t super helpful—if something feels uncomfortable, listen to your gut, but don’t give up, says Dr. Crawford. “You would never go to the store, try on a pair of jeans, and say, ‘Oh, those don’t fit, I guess I won’t wear jeans.’ You would keep trying jeans until you found the right fit,” says Dr. Crawford. Same goes for therapists.

Finding that fit with a therapist is just as important for the outcome as the actual therapeutic technique, according to findings presented in Psychotherapy Relationships That Work (Oxford University Press, 2004). The research analysis found that three key things had a measurable positive impact on the outcome of individual therapy: 1) the strength of your collaborative relationship with your therapist—aka are you on the same page and making goals for your treatment together?; 2) your therapist’s ability to empathize or see where you’re coming from; and 3) the degree to which you and your therapist outline goals and reevaluate them together.

In other words, to get the most out of a therapy session, take the time to find someone you feel like you’re on the same page with, who gets you, and who’s willing to listen to your goals for therapy and help you develop them.

  • What types of therapy are you trained in?
  • What issues do you specialize in?
  • What populations do you specialize in? (While all therapists take on different types of clients, some specialize in specific groups such as working with LGBTQ+ people, people of color, or those who’ve been marginalized in some way.)
  • How do you invite all aspects of your client into the room? (It’s important to know how your therapist will address all aspects of your culture, says Dr. Crawford. “You want to know that you can talk to your therapist about all parts of who you are.”)
  • What are your beliefs about how people change?
  • What’s your goal for ending therapy? (Some therapists believe therapy is an ongoing thing that you never really graduate from, while others see it as a tool to resolve a specific challenge. Make sure their goals line up with yours, and if not, ask if you can redefine them together.)

To find a therapist, start on campus—most schools offer a certain number of free counseling sessions through their counseling or psychological services.

Check with your insurance provider to see whether you need a referral to see a psychologist or counselor. If so, you may need to make an appointment with your primary care provider or the student counseling center to ask for one. Once you have the referral (if needed), you can seek out a therapist in a number of ways:

  • Ask friends and family members if they have a therapist they recommend.
  • Find out if your school counseling center has a list of recommended providers.
  • Use the American Psychological Association’s online search tool.
  • Call your insurance company or use their online services to find a list of therapists who are covered by your plan. If you get a personal recommendation from someone, you’ll also need to check that they’re covered under your insurance plan.

Once you have a name or a list of names and you’ve checked that the providers are covered by your insurance plan, call each therapist and leave a message to ask if they’re accepting new patients and to call you back with their available hours. When you hear back from the therapist, you may want to discuss what you’re looking to get out of treatment, what days and times you’re available to meet, and what their fees are—confirm that they take your insurance (it never hurts to double check this)—and ask about their training and make sure they’re licensed. Sometimes it can take a few tries to find someone whose schedule works with yours, but don’t let that deter you.

7 A therapist can help you identify—and crush—your goals.

“Therapy can be useful by helping people acquire a better understanding of themselves and develop healthy habits,” says Dr. Salley. For example, if you have trouble getting up in time to make that optional early-morning lecture, but then you beat yourself up about missing it, a therapist can help you identify what you really value and then help you make decisions based on that. “It can be helpful to talk to someone who’s objective and not a friend to bounce your experiences and feelings off of,” says Dr. Crawford. “A therapist’s only investment is for you to be your best self.”

Once you’ve identified what’s really important to you, a therapist can help give you the tools to make your value-driven goals a reality. “Problems that are unaddressed remain problems,” says Dr. Crawford. “When you’re ready for something different in your life, it can change. Therapy can help you create the future you want.”

Student perspective: “The part of the therapy that was magical was that my psychologist didn’t provide me the solutions to the issues that I had, but she made me see things very clearly so that I can find solutions myself. This way, I’m able to make good decisions and have a balanced everyday life.” —Second-year graduate student, Saint Louis University

8 What happens in therapy stays in therapy.

You may be worried that all that talking might get out or that your therapist might tell your advisor or RA about what you’re struggling with. “A therapist isn’t allowed to do this unless the student poses a threat to themselves or others,” says Alti. “A therapist’s effectiveness is dependent on maintaining trust.” Bottom line: Unless they believe you’re in imminent danger (e.g., at risk of being seriously harmed or harming yourself or others), they can’t share what you say.

In short, everyone can benefit from talking to a therapist. “In the same way that everyone can benefit from going to the dentist, sometimes therapy is just a routine cleaning,” says Dr. Crawford. “Sometimes it’s just a time to reflect on where you are and where you want to go.” Whether you’re wrestling with anxiety and depression or mildly stressed about finding a summer internship, seeing a therapist can help—even if it’s just for a few sessions. (According to the CCMH report, the average student who uses campus psychology services attends between four and five sessions.)

Student perspective

“Therapy was a good way to talk through anything weighing on my mind. My therapist was very understanding, kind, and, of course, confidential. I’d recommend going to counseling services to everyone.”
—Third-year undergraduate student, Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania

[school_resource sh101resources=’no’ category=’mobileapp,counselingservices’] Get help or find out more


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Article sources

Zachary Alti, LMSW, clinical professor, Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service; psychotherapist in New York City.

Dana Crawford, PhD, individual and family therapist, New York.

Chrissy Salley, PhD, pediatric psychologist, New York.

American Psychological Association. (2017). How to find help through seeing a psychologist. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/therapy.aspx

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Protecting your privacy: Understanding confidentiality. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/confidentiality.aspx

APA Practice Organization. (2017). Psychologist locator. Retrieved from https://locator.apa.org/

Brown, H. (2013, March 25). Looking for evidence that therapy works. New York Times. Retrieved from https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/looking-for-evidence-that-therapy-works/

Center for Collegiate Mental Health. (2017, January). 2016 Annual Report. (Publication No. STA 17-74). Retrieved from https://sites.psu.edu/ccmh/files/2017/01/2016-Annual-Report-FINAL_2016_01_09-1gc2hj6.pdf

Cuijpers, P., Cristea, I. A., Ebert, D. D., Koot, H. M., et al. (2016). Psychological treatment of depression in college students: A meta-analysis. Depression and Anxiety33(5), 400–414. doi: 10.1002/da.22461

Hofmann, S. G., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I. J. J., Sawyer, A. T., et al. (2012). The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Cognitive Therapy and Research36(5), 427–440. doi: 10.1007/s10608-012-9476-1

Kessler, R. C., Amminger, G. P., Aguilar-Gaxiola, S., Alonso, J. et al. (2007). Age of onset of mental disorders: A review of recent literature. Current Opinions in Psychiatry, 20(4), 359–364. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e32816ebc8c

Martin, B. (2016, May 17). In-depth: Cognitive behavioral therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/in-depth-cognitive-behavioral-therapy/

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2012). College students speak: A survey report on mental health. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/About-NAMI/Publications-Reports/Survey-Reports/College-Students-Speak_A-Survey-Report-on-Mental-H.pdf

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Mental health facts: Children and teens. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/getattachment/Learn-More/Mental-Health-by-the-Numbers/childrenmhfacts.pdf

Norcross, J. C., & Hill, C. E. (2004). Empirically supported therapy relationships. Psychotherapy Relationships That Work, 57(3), 19–23.

UC Davis. (n.d.). Community referrals. Retrieved from https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/services/community-referrals

Support students’ mental health by encouraging counseling and therapy

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Minding students’ mental health is just as important as implementing positive programs for physical health on campus. “If we don’t take care of our mental health, we may not be able to reach our goals, maintain good relationships, and function well in day-to-day situations,” says Dr. Chrissy Salley, a psychologist in New York who works with students of all ages. For students, class expectations, new living situations, and navigating newfound independence can take a toll on their mental health and well-being.

Administrators, parents, and student supporters have the chance to play an important role in helping students access mental health services, both as a preventive measure and as a way to treat any issues students are facing.

Therapy is backed by a compelling arsenal of research

A study of college students who received therapeutic treatment for depression had outcomes nearly 90 percent better than those of control groups, according to a 2015 analysis of studies published in Depression and Anxiety. And the science-backed benefits extend beyond treating depression. There’s strong evidence that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help students better handle a variety of mental health issues and stressors, according to an analysis of more than 200 studies (Cognitive Therapy and Research, 2012). The researchers found that CBT helped those struggling with anxiety, anger issues, stress, bulimia, and other mental health issues.

Even though talking about mental health is becoming less stigmatized, taking steps to engage in a therapeutic process can still be confusing and intimidating for students. Here are five strategies for supporting students’ mental health.

1  Normalize therapy

Surveys show it’s not out of the ordinary to see a therapist—55 percent of college student respondents say they’ve used campus counseling services, according to a 2012 report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Few people look forward to therapy, but students should be aware that therapy exists to help them, not to judge them,” says Zachary Alti, LMSW, a psychotherapist and professor at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service in New York. Support students by helping to reduce stigma surrounding mental health services. “I’d encourage students to keep an open mind and try it,” says Dr. Salley.

2  Make mental health just as important as physical health on campus

“Therapy is like physical exercise,” says Alti. Strive to promote counseling services on campus to benefit students’ mental health in the same way you may already be promoting healthy meal options and physical activity to benefit their physical health.

3  Meet students where they are

In college, students are navigating major life changes and setting significant goals—that needs to be addressed from a mental health perspective, according to the experts. “Therapy can be useful by helping people acquire a better understanding of themselves and develop healthy habits,” says Dr. Salley. Remember that “even positive changes can be stressful,” she says. “Having someone to talk to can be helpful, especially as you encounter new situations and people.”

4  Guide students to resources on campus and off

One of the biggest barriers for students can be figuring out where to start. Make information about counseling services offered on campus readily available and widely publicized—including exactly how to schedule a visit with an on-campus counselor, how to access off-campus mental health services, and what mental health services are covered by student insurance.

For students preferring to go off campus, provide resources to help them find local providers; for example, campus-recommended therapists in your area or a search tool on your school’s counseling website.

5  Reinforce confidentiality

Whether seeking mental health services on campus or off, students may be worried that what they share with a counselor might get back to their advisor or RA. “A therapist isn’t allowed to do this unless the student poses a threat to themselves or others,” says Alti. Because “a therapist’s effectiveness is dependent on maintaining trust,” it’s important to make it clear to students that their information and privacy will be protected.

Get help or find out more Article sources

Zachary Alti, LMSW, clinical professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service; psychotherapist in New York City.

Dana Crawford, PhD, individual and family therapist, New York.

Chrissy Salley, PhD, pediatric psychologist, New York.

American Psychological Association. (2017). How to find help through seeing a psychologist. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/therapy.aspx

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Protecting your privacy: Understanding confidentiality. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/confidentiality.aspx

APA Practice Organization. (2017). Psychologist locator. Retrieved from https://locator.apa.org/

Brown, H. (2013, March 25). Looking for evidence that therapy works. New York Times. Retrieved from https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/looking-for-evidence-that-therapy-works/

Center for Collegiate Mental Health. (2017, January). 2016 Annual Report. (Publication No. STA 17-74). Retrieved from https://sites.psu.edu/ccmh/files/2017/01/2016-Annual-Report-FINAL_2016_01_09-1gc2hj6.pdf

Cuijpers, P., Cristea, I. A., Ebert, D. D., Koot, H. M., et al. (2016). Psychological treatment of depression in college students: A meta-analysis. Depression and Anxiety33(5), 400–414. doi: 10.1002/da.22461

Hofmann, S. G., Asnaani, A., Vonk, I. J. J., Sawyer, A. T., et al. (2012). The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy: A review of meta-analyses. Cognitive Therapy and Research36(5), 427–440. doi: 10.1007/s10608-012-9476-1

Kessler, R. C., Amminger, G. P., Aguilar-Gaxiola, S., Alonso, J. et al. (2007). Age of onset of mental disorders: A review of recent literature. Current Opinions in Psychiatry, 20(4), 359–364. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e32816ebc8c

Martin, B. (2016, May 17). In-depth: Cognitive behavioral therapy. Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/in-depth-cognitive-behavioral-therapy/

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2012). College students speak: A survey report on mental health. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/About-NAMI/Publications-Reports/Survey-Reports/College-Students-Speak_A-Survey-Report-on-Mental-H.pdf

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Mental health facts: Children and teens. Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/getattachment/Learn-More/Mental-Health-by-the-Numbers/childrenmhfacts.pdf

Norcross, J. C., & Hill, C. E. (2004). Empirically supported therapy relationships. Psychotherapy Relationships That Work, 57(3), 19–23.

UC Davis. (n.d.). Community referrals. Retrieved from https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/services/community-referrals

Your vaccination guide: Which ones you need, what they do, and where to get them

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In college, more than just your class schedule and study habits shift—for many students, college is a time to start taking control of your own health care. Instead of Mom or Dad calling the shots, it’s increasingly likely that you’re the one making your doctor appointments and keeping track of your health history.

A major part of that is your vaccination history. While most vaccinations are recommended and sometimes required (especially for students involved in the health care fields) before you hit campus, you should still be aware of yearly doses like the flu shot, boosters for vaccines you got when you were younger, or first-time doses you might still need.

Vaccines are one of the best possible ways to protect your health and the health of those around you—plus, they can prevent you from taking the blame for spreading that nasty flu around the res hall. Other good news? Vaccines are easy to get.

Student perspective

“Vaccines help sustain health for you, your family, and the community.”
—Kevin M., first-year graduate student at California State University, Fresno

We want to make the immunization process as painless as possible, so here’s what you need to know about the most important vaccines to have in college—what they are, why they’re so necessary, and how to get them.

The influenza (flu) vaccine

Why you need it

Despite how commonly we hear about it, the flu isn’t something you want to mess around with (most of the time, when people think they have the flu, it’s actually a less serious viral infection). “Seasonal flu is a serious, highly contagious respiratory illness that affects approximately 5 to 20 percent of individuals each year,” says Dr. Lisa Ipp, associate director of adolescent medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, a medical school in New York City. “Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us that of those who get the flu, over 200,000 are hospitalized and tens of thousands die from flu-related complications.”

More likely than landing you in the hospital, getting the flu could really set you back in class. On average, the flu lasts about eight days, and during that time you’ll be more likely to miss lectures and hit up campus health services, according to a 2010 study published in PLOS One. Research published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that 46 percent of college students did poorly on an assignment after getting the flu.

When researchers from the PLOS One study modeled the effect of the vaccine, they found that if just 20 percent of people on campus got their flu shot, the number of people who would get the flu that season would drop from 69 percent (if no one got vaccinated) to less than 50 percent. The researchers also found that if just 60 percent of people on campus got vaccinated, less than 1 percent of the campus population would be likely to end up with the flu. This process is called herd immunity—and it works.

Key facts about the seasonal flu vaccine

The CDC recommends everyone get a flu vaccine each year. “This, of course, includes healthy college students,” says Dr. Ipp. On a college campus, the virus can spread crazy fast. “Without a flu shot, your immune system can’t protect you against the flu because the virus mutates from year to year,” says Dr. Davis Smith, staff physician at the University of Connecticut. Plus, getting yourself vaccinated will help protect the very young and the very old—such as kids or grandparents you’ll see when you head home for break—who are “vulnerable to serious complications of flu because they don’t have the pulmonary and other reserve to tolerate the ravages of this lower respiratory track infection.”

When to get it

Every year, as soon as it becomes available, which is usually September–January (and sometimes later).

Student perspective

“Vaccines are incredibly important because they not only protect you but protect those around you who are susceptible to diseases.”
—Leah H., third-year student at Northern Illinois University

How it works

The flu vaccine covers the three or four strains most likely to land you in bed with chills, aches, and a fever. Each year, the experts predict which strains will be the most common and come up with the flu shot formula that will protect against them. The vaccine is currently available as both an injection and a nasal spray; however, the CDC may recommend one over the other in a given season. Check the current CDC guidelines to make sure you’re getting the recommended version.

Flu guidelines (CDC)

The flu vaccine will not give you the flu (no matter how much that girl in class swears she got sick from her flu shot). The vaccine works by causing your body to develop antibodies about two weeks after you get it—so if you do get sick after getting your shot, that means you were already exposed to the germs or were exposed in that two-week window.

How to get it

Flu season lasts from fall to spring, but if you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, you still can (and should), according to the CDC. Check in with your on-campus health center or your health care provider to get your seasonal flu vaccine. You can also find the vaccine at most community clinics and pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens. The flu shot typically costs around $40–$70, but under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to cover it in full. Make sure you check with your provider before you go—some insurance companies require you to get the vaccine from your doctor (not a pharmacy) for the cost to be covered.

Vaccine finder

Patient receiving vaccination

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine

Why you need it

“The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is cancer prevention,” says Lizzy Appleby, a social worker and youth program manager at Angles reproductive healthcare clinic in Illinois. “While most strains of HPV will go away on their own, some strains can cause cancer, including cervical cancers, throat cancers, anal cancers, and penile cancers.” HPV causes 31,500 new cases of cancer each year, according to the CDC, and some strains can also cause genital warts. The vaccine, which is a series of three shots given over the course of a year (only two if you got the vaccine before the age of 15), can prevent that. In other words, it’s a super-important shot for both men and women.

Student perspective

“The HPV vaccination is essentially a cancer vaccination, which is revolutionary.”
—Eliot A., fourth-year student at Metropolitan State University of Denver

So what exactly is HPV? Technically, it’s a group of over 100 related viruses that are mainly spread through sexual skin-to-skin contact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). HPV can cause bumpy warts on or near the genitals, and at least 13 strains of the virus are known to cause cancer.

About one in four Americans are currently infected with the virus, according to the CDC. Luckily, about 90 percent of HPV infections go away on their own within two years, according to WHO, but the vaccine is still super important. “The vaccine can help protect against the nine types of HPV most commonly linked to some cancers and genital warts,” says Dr. Divya Patel, an associate professor of gynecology at the University of Texas. “The HPV vaccine is preventative care, which means that it’s meant to protect you before the protection becomes necessary,” adds Appleby. “It won’t make any STIs [sexually transmitted infections] you already have go away, and it won’t cause an STI if you don’t have one.”

While it’s true that your risk for getting HPV goes up as your number of sexual partners increases, someone who has only had sex with one partner can still contract HPV if their partner has ever been exposed, according to the American Cancer Society. Getting the HPV vaccine does not depend on whether or not you are currently sexually active. In fact, “the vaccine is really most effective if you get it before you’ve been sexually active,” says Dr. Patel. Even if you’ve never been sexually active and don’t plan on being for a long time, getting vaccinated is a vital part of preventing serious health issues down the road.

When to get it

While the CDC recommends the vaccine for pre-teens (preferably at 11 or 12), it’s not too late if you haven’t gotten it. “Catch-up vaccination is recommended all the way up to age 21 for males and age 26 for females,” says Dr. Patel. Men who have sex with men, transgender individuals, and those with compromised immune systems (such as from HIV) can also get the vaccine through age 26.

How to get it

If you’re not sure if you’ve gotten the vaccine (or the full series of shots), start by asking your parent or contacting your pediatrician for your immunization record. If you still need the vaccine, here’s how to get it:

  • Many campus health centers offer the HPV vaccine, so that’s an easy place to start.
  • You can also get the vaccine at many local pharmacies, such as CVS or Walgreens, or health centers, such as Planned Parenthood.
  • Under the Affordable Care Act, all health insurance companies are required to cover the vaccine without any cost to you.
  • To pay for the vaccine out of pocket (meaning without insurance), the series of three shots will cost around $700 at a local pharmacy. Prices may vary at your doctor’s office or campus health clinic, so ask them directly.
  • If you do not have insurance and are 18 years old or younger, check out the federally funded Vaccines for Children program, which might be able to help offset costs.

Vaccine finder

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY)

Why you need it

The MenACWY vaccine prevents against meningococcal disease (also called meningitis or bacterial meningitis), a very serious and sometimes deadly infection of the brain and spinal cord. It starts with flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, nausea, stiffness in the neck) that rapidly get worse. Some cases can become life-threatening within just a few hours.

Luckily, it’s not super common anymore—thanks to the success of the vaccine. According to the CDC, the number of cases has gone down by 80 percent since the vaccine became widely recommended for preteens and teens in the ’90s. Meningococcal disease is still highly contagious—according to the CDC, it’s transmitted through respiratory and throat secretions, so something as simple as a kiss or a cough can cause an outbreak that spreads like wildfire in close quarters—aka res halls and crowded classrooms. It’s incredibly important to be immunized.

Student perspective

“If it weren’t for vaccines, serious illnesses and diseases would still be plaguing society today. (Polio, for example.)”
—Name withheld, fourth-year student at Berea College in Kentucky

When to get it

The MenACWY vaccine is recommended for all first-year college students age 21 and younger who plan to live in residence halls (though others can still receive the vaccine through age 23). This vaccine is so important that in 39 states, it’s actually required as part of your college admission. College students have a higher risk of getting bacterial meningitis than other young adults, according to the CDC, which is why they recommend you get it even if your school or state doesn’t require it.

Meningococcal ACWY prevention mandates for colleges and universities

How to get it

The CDC recommends getting the shot between the ages of 11 and 12—if you can’t remember whether you’ve had it, ask your parent or contact your childhood doctor for your medical records. If you did get the MenACWY vaccination and it was before your 16th birthday, the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting a booster shot before heading to campus for maximum protection.

There’s also a second type of vaccine—serogroup B meningococcal vaccines that might be necessary if you have certain health conditions putting you at greater risk (such as a damaged or removed spleen)—so talk to your doctor to make sure you’re covered.

Because this vaccine is part of the routine childhood immunization schedule, you should be able to find it at your family doctor’s office. Campus health centers, federally funded community health centers, and many pharmacies also provide the vaccine. Just like the HPV vaccine, the ACA requires that all insurance providers cover it. Out of pocket, it costs around $150.

Vaccine finder

Tdap

Why you need it

The Tdap vaccine is a triple threat, protecting you against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis—three diseases that are rare but serious.

Tetanus, which you can get when bacteria gets into cuts, kills about 10 percent of people who contract it, says the CDC, and causes severely painful muscle tightening and stiffness. Diphtheria, while extremely rare, isn’t something to mess with—it can cause breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis, and even death. Pertussis—better known as whooping cough—is slightly more common. It can cause severe coughing spells—we’re talking coughing so hard you can fracture your own ribs—that are grave enough to land 2 percent of adolescents who contract it in the hospital with serious complications.

The vaccine has all but eradicated these scary diseases (reported cases of tetanus and diphtheria have dropped by about 99 percent, and cases of pertussis have dropped by about 80 percent, according to the CDC), but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to get vaccinated. The CDC reported a massive spike in cases of whooping cough in 2012, and rates of infections have remained higher than in decades past because of the recent anti-vaccine movement, according to experts at the National Institutes of Health. Double-check and make sure you got the shot.

Student perspective

“I would recommend that anyone do anything they can to prevent being sick.”
—Bethany P., fourth-year student at the University of Rhode Island

How and when to get it

Like the HPV vaccine and MenACWY, the Tdap vaccine is recommended for 11- and 12-year-olds, but if you didn’t get it as a preteen, you should still get it ASAP, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC. After you’ve had your Tdap vaccine, you’ll need a Td booster shot (to renew your protection against tetanus and diphtheria) every 10 years.

Again, start with your campus health center or current health care provider. You can also check out the local pharmacy or clinic.

Vaccine finder

Female patient talking with male doctor

Vaccine side effects and safety

All vaccines can have some side effects—usually mild redness or swelling around the site of the shot (Tdap tends to leave you with a sore arm). You might also get a mild headache or flu-like symptoms right after getting a vaccine, so make sure to ask the health care provider giving you the vaccination what to expect. However, all of these vaccines have been through rigorous testing. There’s absolutely no scientific evidence that these vaccines cause diseases or serious side effects (such as autism), according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

It’s important to remember that any small side effects you might experience are nothing compared to the massive, science-backed benefits you’ll get by getting vaccinated. The bottom line: Staying on top of your shots is a super-easy way to boost your health and help protect your community.

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Article sources

Lizzy Appleby, MSW, youth program manager at Angles reproductive healthcare clinic, Illinois.

Lisa Ipp, MD, associate director of adolescent medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York.

Divya Patel, PhD, assistant professor, Texas Collaborative for Healthy Mothers and Babies (an affiliate of the University of Texas System).

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2017, January 26). Vaccine safety: Examine the evidence. Healthychildren.org. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/immunizations/Pages/Vaccine-Studies-Examine-the-Evidence.aspx

American Cancer Society. (2016, May 11). What is HPV? HPV and Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/infectious-agents/hpv/hpv-and-cancer-info.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, July 6). Meningococcal disease. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, June 7). Community settings as a risk factor. Meningococcal disease. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/risk-community.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, May 19). Meningococcal vaccination: What everyone should know. Vaccines and preventable diseases. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mening/public/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, May 17). Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cancer. HPV and cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/hpv/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, May 16). Disease burden of influenza. Influenza (flu). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/burden.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, March 31). Key facts about the seasonal flu vaccine. Influenza (flu). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, March 23). Frequently asked flu questions 2016–2017 influenza season. Influenza (flu). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2016-2017.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, October 18). Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) VIS. Vaccine information statements (VISs). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/tdap.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, September 8). Pertussis outbreak trends. Pertussis (whooping cough). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/outbreaks/trends.html

HealthMap Vaccine Finder. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://vaccinefinder.org/

Immunization Action Coalition. (2017, July 7). Vaccine safety. Ask the Experts: Topics. Retrieved from https://www.immunize.org/askexperts/vaccine-safety.asp

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. (May 2016). Addressing the challenges of influenza vaccination on US college campuses. Retrieved from https://www.nfid.org/publications/reports/college-flu-summit-report.pdf

National Institutes of Health. (2015, March 2). Gardasil 9 vaccine protects against additional HPV types. National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/types/cervical/research/gardasil9-prevents-more-HPV-types

National Institutes of Health. (2016, March 22). Resurgence of measles, pertussis fueled by vaccine refusals. NIH Director’s Blog. Retrieved from https://directorsblog.nih.gov/2016/03/22/resurgence-of-measles-pertussis-fueled-by-vaccine-refusals/

Nichol, K. L., D’Heilly, S., & Ehlinger, E. P. (2005). Colds and influenza-like illnesses in university students: Impact on health, academic and work performance, and health care use. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 40(9), 1263–1270. doi: 10.1086/429237

Nichol, K. L., D’Heilly, S., & Ehlinger, E. P. (2008). Influenza vaccination among college and university students impact on influenza like illness, health care use, and impaired school performance. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 162(12), 1113–1118. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.162.12.1113

Nichol, K. L., Tummers, K., Hoyer-Leitzel, A., Marsh, J., et al. (2010). Modeling seasonal influenza outbreak in a closed college campus: Impact of pre-season vaccination, in-season vaccination and holidays/breaks. PLoS One, 5(3). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009548

Patel, D. A., Zochowski, M., Peterman, S., Dempsey, A. F., et al. (2012). Human papillomavirus vaccine intent and uptake among female college students. Journal of American College Health, 60(2), 151–161. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2011.580028

Poehling, K. A., Blocker, J., Ip, E. H., & Peters, T. R., et al. (2012). 2009–2010 seasonal influenza vaccination coverage among college students from eight universities in North Carolina. Journal of American College Health, 60(8), 541. doi: 10.1080/07 448481.2012.700973

US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (n.d.). Preventative care benefits for children. Healthcare.gov. Retrieved from https://www.healthcare.gov/preventive-care-children/

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US Department of Health and Human Services. (November 2014). Will the affordable care act cover my flu shot? HHS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/answers/affordable-care-act/will-the-aca-cover-my-flu-shot/index.html

US Department of Health and Human Services. (February 2017). Adults schedule. Vaccines.gov. Retrieved from https://www.vaccines.gov/who_and_when/adults/index.html

Yang, Z. J. (2012). Too scared or too capable? Why do college students stay away from the H1N1 vaccine? Risk Analysis, 32(10), 1703–1716. doi: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2012.01799.x

Trending diets: What they are, why they don’t always work, and what to try instead

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Counting macros, going paleo, and cutting out carbs might be trendy on campus. However, research shows that diets, which typically have strict rules about what and how much to eat, aren’t an effective way for students to maintain healthy eating habits long term.

Here's why

  • Less enjoyment “Diets deprive us both physically and psychologically of things we tend to really like. When you limit yourself from something that you really like, it actually comes back to bite you in the long run,” says Dr. Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab in New York and author of the books Mindless Eating (Bantam, 2010) and Slim by Design (William Morrow, 2014). “As a result, diets tend to be very unsustainable.”
  • Biological changes When researchers followed up with competitors on a popular weight-loss show six years after they’d dieted to the extreme, they found they’d gained most of the weight back (and that their transformations had actually caused major metabolism slowdowns that persisted for years), according to the study published in Obesity. This isn’t a new phenomenon either—metabolic changes post weight loss are likely one of the reasons it’s so hard to keep the pounds off long term, according to a meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
  • Risk of long-term restriction The more restrictive the diet, the harder it is to keep up, and the more you run the risk of getting into dangerous restrictive eating territory, says Tammy Ostroski, doctor of nursing and manager of the health clinics at Arizona State University. “The thing that concerns me is that students start thinking, ‘I can’t eat this, I can’t eat that,’ and then they tend to binge—it becomes a negative feedback loop.”

What works, say both the experts and the research, are behavioral changes. The idea is to “change the convenience, the attractiveness, and how normal it is to eat the right foods,” says Dr. Wansink.

In addition to educating students about the pitfalls of dieting compared to research-backed strategies for healthy eating, give students a leg up on healthy habits by optimizing their eating environments on campus.

  1. Keep healthy foods in view and easily accessible. Small tweaks like offering students precut fruit can have a big influence on eating habits. “If you’re going to have food visible, make it [healthy] food,” says Dr. Wansink.
  2. Offer smaller packages of snacks. Providing snacks at a campus event? Consider investing in individually sized rations to keep portions in check effortlessly. Simply eating from smaller packages makes a difference. In a 2007 study, participants who were given snacks in large packages consumed 30–50 percent more than those who were given the same food in smaller packages, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
  3. Downsize your dishes. If you’re providing students with pizza or ice cream, or offering other serve-yourself foods, purchase smaller plates or bowls. Doing so can reduce how much we’re eating, according to a 2012 study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
  4. Provide students with strategies for mindful eating. Pair up with other offices and departments on campus to bring awareness to mindful eating. Simply paying attention to internal and external eating cues and becoming more aware of the reasons behind eating helped improve participants’ body image perceptions and decreased unhealthy eating behaviors, researchers found in a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
Get help or find out more Article sources

Jenna Heller, MS, registered dietitian, Arizona State University.

Tammy Ostroski, DNP, FNP, manager of health clinics, Arizona State University.

Alissa Rumsey, MS, registered dietitian, New York.

Brian Wansink, PhD, director of Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, Cornell University, New York.

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Axe, J. (n.d.). Ketogenic diet boosts fat loss and fights disease. Dr. Axe. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/truth-about-the-controversial-ketogenic-diet/

Baskin, E., Gorlin, M., Chance, Z., Novemsky, N., et al. (2016). Proximity of snacks to beverages increases food consumption in the workplace: A field study. Appetite. 103, 244–248. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.04.025

Bush, H. E., Rossy, L., Mintz, L. B., & Schopp, L. (2014). Eat for life: A work site feasibility study of a novel mindfulness-based intuitive eating intervention. American Journal of Health Promotion, 28(6), 380–388. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.120404-QUAN-186

Fothergill, E., Guo, J., Howard, L., Kerns, J. C., et al. (2016). Persistent metabolic adaptation six years after “The Biggest Loser” competition. Obesity, 24(8), 1612–1619. doi: 10.1002/oby.21538

Guldbrand, H., Dizdar, B., Bunjaku, B., Lindström, T., et al. (2012). In type 2 diabetes, randomisation to advice to follow a low-carbohydrate diet transiently improves glycaemic control compared with advice to follow a low-fat diet producing a similar weight loss. Diabetologia, 55(8), 2118–2127.

Harvard Health Letter. (2011, February). Mindful eating. Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating

Harvard Health Letter. (2012, November). Choosing good carbs with the glycemic index. Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/choosing-good-carbs-with-the-glycemic-index

Hu, F. B. (2010). Are refined carbohydrates worse than saturated fat? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91(6), 1541–1542. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.29622

Kaipainen, K., Payne, C. R., & Wansink, B. (2012). Mindless eating challenge: Retention, weight outcomes, and barriers for changes in a public web-based healthy eating and weight loss program. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 14(6), 168. doi: 10.2196/jmir.2218

Loucks, E. B., Britton, W. B., Howe, C. J., Gutman, R., et al. (2016). Associations of dispositional mindfulness with obesity and central adiposity: The New England family study. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 23(2), 224–233.

Mellberg, C., Sandberg, S., Ryberg, M., Eriksson, M., et al. (2014). Long-term effects of a Paleolithic-type diet in obese postmenopausal women: A two-year randomized trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 68, 350–357. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.290

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2015, February). Health risks of being overweight. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-risks-overweight

The Paleo Diet. (n.d.). The paleo diet premise. Retrieved from https://thepaleodiet.com/the-paleo-diet-premise/

Pitt, C. E. (2016). Cutting through the Paleo hype: The evidence for the Paleolithic diet. Australian Family Physician, 45(1), 35–38. Retrieved from https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2016/januaryfebruary/cutting-through-the-paleo-hype-the-evidence-for-the-palaeolithic-diet/

Sacks, F. M., Bray, G. A., Carey, V. J., Smith, S. R., et al. (2009). Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. New England Journal of Medicine, 360(9), 859–873. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0804748

Schaefer, J. T., & Magnuson, A. B. (2014). A review of interventions that promote eating by internal cues. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(5), 734–760. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2013.12.024

US National Library of Medicine. (2016, November 25). Just a small cut in saturated fats “reduces heart risk.” Behind the Headlines—Health News from NHS Choices. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2016-11-25-just-a-small-cut-in-saturated-fats-reduces-heart-disease-risk/

Wansink, B., & Van Ittersum, K. (2006). The visual illusions of food: Why plates, bowls, and spoons can bias consumption volume. FASEB Journal, 20.

Wansink, B., & Van Ittersum, K. (2007). Portion size me: Downsizing our consumption norms. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 107(7), 1103–1106.

Wansink, B., Painter, J. E., & North, J. (2005). Bottomless bowls: Why visual cues of portion size may influence intake. Obesity Research, 13(1), 93–100. doi: 10.1038/oby.2005.12

Vandyken, P. (2016, October 12). What to eat on the paleo diet. The Paleo Diet. Retrieved from https://thepaleodiet.com/what-to-eat-on-the-paleo-diet-paul-vandyken/

Van Kleef, E., Shimizu, M., & Wansink, B. (2012). Serving bowl selection biases the amount of food served. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 44(1), 66–70.

Vartanian, L. R., Kernan, K. M., & Wansink, B. (2016). Clutter, chaos, and overconsumption: The role of mind-set in stressful and chaotic food environments. Environment and Behavior. Online First: doi: 10.1177/0013916516628178

A no-sweat guide to the most popular workouts

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The benefits of exercise are boundless, even if your capacity to actually fit a workout into your schedule has limits. But carving out a balance between the gym and the library can help you score physical, mental, and even academic gains. You probably know this already…so what’s holding you back?

Whether you’re a bona fide athlete or just starting a new gym routine, figuring out a new workout plan can be intimidating. Are you looking to flex your running muscles or unleash your inner yogi? Take a whack at high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or try your hand at some heavy-duty lifting à la CrossFit? There are so many choices, so much sweat, and so little time.

To help figure out what workout will work for you, we’ve created a science-backed, no-sweat guide to four popular workouts. Experts weigh in on how to get the most out of each rep, stretch, or mile so you can make the smartest choice for your sweat sessions.Exercise #1: Running

Guy stretching, getting ready to run

What it’s all about

Considering you can do it pretty much anywhere, anytime (with the right shoes and weather-appropriate gear), running remains one of the most popular exercises. According to the officials at Running USA, the largest online directory of races, race results, and running clubs, 7.6 million people ran a 5k race (that’s 3.1 miles) in 2015. Thirty-seven percent of college students count running as their go-to exercise, according to a recent CampusWell survey.

The benefits

Just like each rep with weights helps strengthen your muscles, each minute of cardio helps strengthen your heart and lungs. “Cardio exercise will help to ‘build’ the cardiovascular system as the body increases the number of blood vessels in response to the exercise and helps it become more efficient [while strengthening the heart],” says Dr. Shane Rogers, a professor at Edith Cowan University in Australia who’s studied the effects of exercise on well-being. “Additionally, it strengthens the respiratory system as your lung capacity increases.”

These cardiovascular effects are great for your brain, too, he adds. Students who started running just 30 minutes a week for three weeks boosted their sleep quality, mood, and concentration in class, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Here’s how it works: “A stronger cardiovascular system, kept in shape via exercise like running, can more efficiently deliver the glucose and oxygen that the brain requires to power the electro-chemical transmission of nerve cells in the brain,” says Dr. Rogers. That helps improve everything from learning to sleep, he adds.

“There are also benefits to the musculoskeletal system, such as increased strength and power in the leg muscles and increased bone density,” says Stacy Ciarleglio, head athletic trainer at the Westminster School in Connecticut.

The drawbacks

According to Dr. Rogers, one of the biggest risks in adopting a running routine is overdoing it by pushing too hard or ignoring an injury. In fact, 40–50 percent of runners get injured every year, according to a 2010 report published in Current Sports Medicine Reports. “It is better to take the necessary time off to heal up and then get back into it [little by little, once you’re healed], rather than pushing through injury,” he says.

“Often, the overuse injuries that occur during running are in part a result of lack of strength in the legs,” says Ciarleglio. “Focusing on building up these muscles either prior to starting a running routine or in conjunction with running can be helpful in preventing injury.”

To avoid injuries and get the most out of your run, it’s essential to warm up and stretch out, says Ashley Borden, certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). If you can get one at a sporting goods store or online, “focus on using foam rollers, especially on your shins and calves,” she says. Check out the guide below, or if you don’t have a roller, stretch your legs the old-fashioned way—carefully and gently.

Full-body foam rolling guide

If you’re a running newbie, don’t be afraid to do a little walking, says Noam Tamir, CSCS. “Run for one minute, then walk for one minute. This way you will be able to sustain more distance,” he says. Whether you’re just starting out or building up your running practice, aim for a goal of three runs per week—two fairly light runs and one longer run that’s a challenge for you—to build up your distance.

Try the Couch to 5K® Running Plan

“Running is an ultimate release for me. I sweat, I get tired, and I accomplish something every time I get back from a run. It adds schedule and routine to my day and pushes my body to its limits.”
—Thomas C., third-year undergraduate, Berea College, Kentucky

Exercise #2: Yoga

Large group of people doing yoga

What it’s all about

Yoga has been around for over 5,000 years. Meaning “to join” or “yoke,” the practice is all about bringing together the mind and body through a series of “asanas,” or poses. In other words, it’s just as much about getting your brain into shape as your body. Twenty-one million adults are tapping into the ancient workout’s benefits, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

The benefits

Dr. Donna Wang, an associate professor of social work at Long Island University in New York, followed students at four New York City schools who practiced yoga for a year and found positive results. “People generally report feeling immediately calm and relaxed. The physical benefits include increased flexibility and reduced pain, and increase in range of motion and physical abilities,” she says. She and her colleagues also found that students said they were “able to better manage relationships and difficult situations” after practicing for a year, according to her 2016 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Yet another reason to get your om on.

Adding yoga to your class schedule isn’t just about the emotional and physical benefits—research shows it produces actual brain changes. Posture-based yoga and meditation can increase your brain wave activity, gray matter, and frontal cortex and amygdala activity, which can improve your ability to make decisions, form memories, and regulate your emotions, according to a 2015 study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.

The drawbacks

The major drawback of yoga is that data on its pros and cons is lacking. “A lot of the concepts are extremely difficult to measure,” says Dr. Wang. But you don’t necessarily need measurable facts and figures to feel the effects, she says. “I believe that even if it’s all self-perception, it is worthwhile. Frame of mind and perspective is critical in well-being.”

Physically, most yoga classes don’t get your heart pumping the way a session on a treadmill or HIIT class would, so it’s important to make sure you complement your yoga practice with cardio and strength training to stay balanced. Caveat: Some studios offer power yoga or faster-paced vinyasa flow classes that can get your heart pumping; just make sure you’ve mastered proper form and technique before taking these on.

If yoga is your go-to, you may also want to add some additional strength training to keep your workout routine well-rounded, says Borden. “The thing that’s missing from yoga is the pulling aspect, which is important for balancing your posture.” In other words, for every round of yogi push-ups, you could also benefit from bicep curls to keep muscles balanced.

“Yoga has changed my life. I feel better, more energized, stretched out, stronger, have an easier time digesting and eating well, and can get my heart rate going while still finding time to meditate and center myself.”
—Madison G., first-year graduate student, Utah State University

Exercise #3: Heavy-duty strength training  Large barbell

What it’s all about

Hard-core strength training has surged in popularity thanks to gyms like CrossFit®, which have helped break down some of the old stereotypes that lifting was only for big, meaty guys. A third of college students are into pumping iron, according to a recent CampusWell survey, and last year, more than 320,000 adults competed in the 2016 CrossFit® Open, according to the official organization report.

The benefits

According to the experts, it’s easy to see why this often-stereotyped workout has gained recent popularity. “Weight lifting has been shown to not only improve muscle tone and mass but deliver rapid strength and endurance gains, improved perception of body image, weight loss, and reduction of physical fatigue,” says Dr. Brian Giordano, an associate professor of sports medicine at the University of Rochester in New York.

Taking up an old-school workout routine like weight lifting might also have mental benefits. Researchers found that CrossFit® participants were more intrinsically motivated and excited about their workout than people who were simply lifting weights with a trainer, according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. That might make you more likely to stick with it in the long run.

The drawbacks

The intense types of heavy-duty strength-training workouts promoted by CrossFit® and its companions can lead to injury. But it isn’t necessarily more dangerous than any other type of exercise, according to a 2014 study published in the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine. “In our study on the epidemiology of CrossFit® injuries, we showed that the relative injury prevalence is very similar to many other forms of exercise, including running, gymnastics, Olympic-style weight lifting, and generalized sporting activities,” says Dr. Giordano, one of the study’s authors.

In the survey of almost 500 CrossFit® athletes, 20 percent got injured from the exercise, which Giordano says can usually be chalked up to bad form. “If a younger athlete is interested in participating in a high-intensity fitness program or strength and conditioning program, proper supervision is critical to prevent breakdown in form and technique.”

Perhaps the biggest downfall of all, though, is that programs like CrossFit® can be crazy expensive. For a more cost-friendly alternative, sign up for a weight-lifting class on campus or in your community, or talk to an athletic trainer about learning how to lift safely.

“Leave your ego at the door,” says Borden. “You aren’t trying to be a hero in these classes. Start light and learn the movement patterns.”

More than anything, nailing that perfect form is key. “Learning the movement patterns is the most important thing—then you can start worrying about [how much weight you’re lifting] and personal records,” Borden says. Finally, give your body some TLC after a tough CrossFit-style session—this is another opportunity to get familiar with a foam roller. “You have to make sure that you recover,” says Borden. “I would highly suggest that you add alternative classes [to your schedule] that have less impact on your joints.”

“I love weight training because it allows me to be strong and feminine, to challenge myself and push my boundaries, to build my body and perform the way I’d like.”
—Victoria P., second-year undergraduate, Trent University, Ontario

Exercise #4: HIIT Hand holding a stop-watch

What it’s all about

No matter what your workout is, “we all want the most bang for our buck,” says Dr. Giordano. That’s why high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is such an attractive sweat session. By rotating short bursts of give-it-all-you’ve-got exercises with short periods of recovery exercises, HIIT delivers a massive dose of strength and cardio training in less time than it would take to watch an episode of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Here’s how it works: For anywhere between five seconds and eight minutes, you give the exercise all your effort and recover with an exercise that only takes about 50 percent of your maximum effort. According to a CampusWell survey, it’s the go-to exercise for 16 percent of college students.

The benefits

Hardcore HIIT sessions can improve your bod by increasing your aerobic fitness, according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, where students showed greater aerobic capacity (aka VO2 max) after 12 HIIT sessions. It’s also been shown to increase total workout output and power, according to a 2011 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. And finally, a 2017 study published in Cell Metabolism suggests that HIIT workouts might actually help fend off the effects of aging—a group of young adult participants showed a 49 percent increase in their cells’ ability to produce energy, which helps keep your bod in tip-top shape over time.

The mental benefits of HIIT are also worth noting. One study among young adults published in Neuroscience Letters found that HIIT exercise improved functioning in the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of your brain responsible for things like planning, decision making, social behavior, and even personality, as compared to participants who didn’t exercise. HIIT also increased levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a chemical that helps boost mood, learning, and memory.

HIIT also has a bonus benefit—it’s called the EPOC effect, or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. Because these workouts are so intense, they keep your body working hard even after you’ve hit the showers, giving you a little more bang for your buck, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

The drawbacks

HIIT has the word “intensity” in its name for a reason. These workouts can be tough, which might make them less enjoyable for some people. College students assigned to a HIIT workout routine for eight weeks were significantly less likely to enjoy their sweat sessions compared to students doing moderate-intensity interval or steady-state training, according to a 2015 study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. On top of that, the researchers found that there was no significant difference in physical gains between the high-intensity interval group and the other exercise groups. In other words, you might be able to get the same results from a less intense sweat session. This, however, is still up for debate. Several studies have shown that HIIT can be more effective than moderate-intensity exercise.

Researchers also note that because most HIIT exercises use your whole body, you might be at greater risk for overdoing it. “Like any form of exercise, high-intensity interval training is associated with a non-negligible injury rate,” says Dr. Giordano. “Moderation and attention to whole-body wellness are key to long-term success.”

HIIT only works if you’re being honest with yourself, says Borden. “You need to really push as hard as you can in the intense intervals.” Since these workouts are short, give it your all from start to finish.

To get the most out of a HIIT session, look for a circuit that has compound movements—moves that use your upper and lower body and pushing and pulling motions, such as a kettlebell swing. “This means you are using multiple joints rather than doing isolation exercises—the heart rate goes up and you get more bang for your buck,” says Tamir.

“I feel like HIIT and yoga complement each other nicely, and mixing the two of them during a one-hour workout is something I really like to do.”
—Ryan S., fourth-year undergraduate, University of New Brunswick, Canada

“HIIT is best for people who get bored easily, are crunched for time, or don’t necessarily like the idea of spending forever doing cardio.”
—Sonya M., fourth-year undergraduate, Northern Illinois University

Ultimately, keep two things in mind when planning the perfect exercise routine. The first is that it’s all about balance. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, heart-pumping aerobic activity per week (or 75 minutes if that activity is intense), and moderate- to high-intensity strength training twice a week. In other words, make sure your workout routine includes both cardio and muscle boosters.

Secondly, remember that even a little physical activity is better than none, so find whatever works for you and feel good about it! If putting your favorite playlist on and getting your heart pumping while you jam out can double as some cardio, by all means, rock on.

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Article sources

Ashley Borden, CSCS, fitness consultant, Los Angeles.

Brian Giordano, MD, associate professor of sports medicine, University of Rochester, New York.

Shane Rogers, PhD, lecturer, Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.

Noam Tamir, CSCS, founder of T.S. Fitness, New York.

Donna Wang, PhD, associate professor of social work, Long Island University, New York.

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Desai, R., Tailor, A., & Bhatt, T. (2015). Effects of yoga on brain waves and structural activation: A review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 21(2), 112–118. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2015.02.002

Dr. Axe. (n.d.). How to build your own HIIT workouts. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/821/2015/04/HIITWORKOUTv2.jpg

Fields, K. B., Sykes. J. C., Walker, K. M., & Jackson, J. C. (2010). Prevention of running injuries. Current Sports Medicine Report, 9(3), 176–182. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e3181de7ec5

Fisher, J., & Steele, J. (2016). A comparison of the motivational factors between CrossFit participants and other resistance exercise. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 57(9), 1227–1234.

Foster, C., Farland, C. V., Guidotti, F., Harbin, M., et al. (2015). The effects of high-intensity interval training vs. steady-state training on aerobic and anaerobic capacity. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 14(4), 747–755.

Hwang, J., Brothers, R. M., Castelli, D. M., Glowacki, E. M., et al. (2016). Acute high-intensity exercise-induced cognitive enhancement and brain-derived neurotrophic factor in young, healthy adults. Neuroscience Letters, 6(630), 247–253. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2016.07.033

Kalak, N., Gerber, M., Kirov, R., & Mikoteit, T. (2012). Daily morning running for three weeks improved sleep and psychological functioning in healthy adolescents compared with controls. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51(6), 615–622. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.02.020

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5 tried-and-true money saving tips for students

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Get used to hearing this one—college is expensive. You’re either feeling the effects now (oh hey, double shifts at the library and attending lots of irrelevant events for free pizza), or you’ll be feeling them later, you know, when the loans go into repayment. Either way, we could all use some help keeping our expenses low and our balances high(er). Here are some tried-and-true money-saving tips that can keep college costs in check.

1. Buying new books is a rookie move

Who knew books could be so expensive? Oh, wait—we did. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy into the idea that new is better. In most cases, new is unnecessary. Go for used or even rentals, which you can get from your library for free or online at a lower cost. And don’t count out e-books. These are often more affordable and have the added bonus of being environmentally friendly. Just make sure the e-book includes all the pieces you’ll need, such as a digital access code for supplemental online content.

Before you shell out $500 for a new bio book, check out the best sites for book deals, recommended by students like you:

2. Decorating your space is an interpretive artPink piggy bank vector

That picturesque collection of extra-long sheets and coordinating lampshades is lying to you. You can get just as much use out of a Craigslist desk and Grandma’s throw pillows—and you might even get more friends because of it. The point here is that your ideal room or apartment décor might be better suited for your first paycheck after graduation. That doesn’t mean you can’t make your space feel like home; you just need to be a little flexible doing it.

Shop around on sites like Craigslist and OfferUp (but make sure you’re putting safety before a good deal here because this can get weird—try to meet in a neutral, public location and take a roommate, friend, or bodyguard with you). And don’t discount Facebook Marketplace or other social media groups where students can buy, sell, and trade old stuff. Your school might have one just for students looking for the futon of their dreams. Check it out.

“My first couch was threadbare and hideous, but it was free, and a neutral slipcover made it work in my apartment.”
—Emily, fourth-year undergraduate, University of Windsor, Canada

3. Stick it out for sales

If you can swing it, hold off on buying supplies—sans the essentials, of course—for the first few weeks of the semester. A lot of stores put office, desk, and room supplies on sale after the big rush, and that means you can get a lot more goods for your green. So treat yourself to that extra-plush body pillow; your patience paid off.

4. Move beyond the microwave—or learn to cook with itYellow piggy bank vector

Those double XL coffees from the café add up fast, and those meal plans can be expensive. We’re talking $1,000 to $3,500 per semester expensive depending on your school, according to a 2015 NBC News report. Ouch. Many schools offer a range of meal plan options, and choosing a smaller one might save you some money. You still have to eat, though, so shrinking your meal plan goes along with expanding your kitchen skills.

Before we lose you completely, this is an awesome time in your life to learn to make some basics, like pasta, tacos, roasted vegetables, and killer quiches. You don’t even need to make peace with the oven to get going here. Check out our article on five recipes you can make in a microwave to get started.

5. Where you live matters

First year on campus? You’re probably hanging out with some roommates in a res hall. But that might not be the most financially savvy option for all four years. “Depending on where you go to school, living off campus with a few roommates could be less expensive than living in a [residence hall]. At other campuses, [residence halls] are the best value,” says Amy Marty Conrad, director of the CashCourse program, part of the National Endowment for Financial Education that helps students plan how to pay for college.

Bottom line: Do your research. The default option isn’t always the most affordable option, and you owe it to yourself to figure that out. Check with your school too—some colleges require students to live on campus for a certain amount of time. And don’t forget about the live-at-home option. It may not be your fav now, but the financial freedom you’ll have after graduation could get you closer to the life you want. It’s all about those goals.

“Bulletin boards on the school campus always offer different options for housing like renting a room, needing a roommate, [and] cheaper apartments or studios.”
—Alexander, fourth-year undergraduate, College of the Desert, California

6. Your student ID is a magical, money-saving thingBlue piggy bank vector

Your student ID is so much more than a close-up of your face on your first day on campus. It’s essentially gold—and it can save you some too. Businesses want your business any way they can get it, and that usually means that they’ll cut you some slack in your student years. But you have to know what it gets you, and you have to be willing to ask. Some retailers might not advertise discounts, and others might only grant them to the brave few willing to ask the question. It’s worth it to do so, even if they say no.

And remember, this applies to way more than just clothes and food. Car insurance, flights back home, and an evening at the museum are all things you can save on with proof of your student status. Use it before you graduate and take a moment of silence for all the money you save. Or don’t.

What can a student discount do for you? Check out some of the deals here.

Bonus tip: Build (and stick to) a budget

While we’re here, be sure you’re sticking to your budget by having one in the first place. It’s OK if you’re new to tracking your finances; in fact, that’s the best place to start. Try a budgeting app like Mint and see where you can make adjustments. Remember, small tweaks can mean big savings. You got this.

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Amy Marty Conrad, director, CashCourse, Denver, Colorado.

Borges, A. (2016, August 23). The 6 best sites for scoring cheap textbooks. Her Campus. Retrieved from https://www.hercampus.com/life/academics/6-best-sites-scoring-cheap-textbooks

Durand, F. (2016, September 14). 11 things we wish we had known about cooking in college. The Kitchn. Retrieved from https://www.thekitchn.com/11-things-we-wish-we-had-known-about-cooking-in-college-208283=

Jhaveri, A. (2016, August 2). 22 healthy college recipes you can make in your dorm room. Greatist. Retrieved from https://greatist.com/eat/healthy-dorm-room-recipes

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