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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


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

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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

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A no-sweat guide to the most popular workouts

Reading Time: 13 minutes

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.

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

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.

Ages, A. (n. d.). The best CrossFit workouts for beginners. Men’s Fitness. Retrieved from https://www.mensfitness.com/training/workout-routines/best-crossfit-workouts-beginners

American Heart Association. (2016, July 27). American Heart Association recommendations for physical activities in adults. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp#.WWPxc9Pyv-Y

Birkel, D., & Edgren, L. (2000). Hatha yoga: Improved vital capacity of college students. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 6(6), 55–63.

Clark, J. (n. d.). The couch to 5k running plan. Cool Running. Retrieved from https://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml

CrossFit Games. (2016). Statistics from the 2016 open. Retrieved from https://games.crossfit.com/video/statistics-2016-open

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

Kravitz, L. (2014). High-intensity interval training. American College of Sports Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/high-intensity-interval-training.pdf

Meyer, J., Morrison, J., & Zuniga, J. (2017). The benefits and risks of CrossFit: A systematic review. Workplace Health and Safety. doi: 10.1177/2165079916685568

National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Use of complementary health approaches in the US. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/NHIS/2012/mind-body/yoga

O’Keefe, J. H., Patil, H. R., Lavie, C. J., Magalski, A., et al. (2012). Potential adverse cardiovascular effects from excessive endurance exercise. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 87(7), 704. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2012.04.005

Robinson, E. H., Stout, J. R., Miramonti, A. A., Fukuda, D. H., et al. (2014). High-intensity interval training and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyric free acid improves aerobic power and metabolic thresholds. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(16). doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-11-16

Robinson, M. M., Dasari, S., Konopka, A. R., Johnson, M. L., et al. (2017). Enhanced protein translation underlies improved metabolic and physical adaptations to different exercise training modes in young and old humans. Cell Metabolism. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.02.009

Schlinger, A. (2016). Five beginner-friendly CrossFit workouts. Daily Burn. Retrieved from https://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/beginner-crossfit-workouts/

Sengupta, P. (2012). Health impacts of yoga and pranayama: A state-of-the-art review. International Journal of Preventative Medicine, 3(7), 444–458.

Tamirkin, S., & Chang, J. (2015). Nine running workouts you can do in 30 minutes or less. BuzzFeed. Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeed.com/sallytamarkin/quick-running-workouts?utm_term=.xx1DrpKby#.enqBZb40x

Wang, D., & Hagins, M. (2016). Perceived benefits of yoga among urban school students: A qualitative analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi:10.1155/2016/8725654

Weisenthal, B. M., Beck, C. A., Maloney, M. D., DeHaven, K. E., et al. (2014). Injury rate and patterns among CrossFit athletes. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, 2(4). doi: 10.1177/2325967114531177

Yoga with Adriene. (n.d.). Yoga for beginners—40-minute home yoga workout. Retrieved from https://yogawithadriene.com/yoga-beginners-40-minute-home-yoga-workout/

Ziemann, E., Grzywacz, T., Luszczyk, M., Laskowski, R., et al. (2011). Aerobic and anaerobic changes with high-intensity interval training in active college-aged men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(4), 1104–1112. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181d09ec9

FitnessU: Glute-busting moves to build your backside

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Interested in building your backside? We are too, and apparently so is everyone else on the internet. There’s no shame in wanting to show your glutes some love—strong glutes mean you can jump, sprint, squat, and move with more power and lower risk of injury. So whatever your reasons for wanting to maximize your glute muscles, we’re with you. And fortunately, so is our trainer.

We’ve prepped a routine that focuses on strengthening all the muscles of the gluteal complex so you’re covered from all angles. You’ll want some weights on hand for this one, but remember that milk gallons, textbooks, or even that lone can of black beans can stand in for dumbbells. Ready to feel the burn while building up your bum? If you nodded enthusiastically (or maybe even apprehensively) hit play now. Happy squatting.


Prep your glutes with these three easy moves to make sure they’re revved and ready for what’s next. Some effort required; resistance band optional.

Phase 1: Functional moves that fire up your glutes

Squats, bridges, lunges—this series has it all. Grab your weights, or whatever you’re using as a stand-in, and follow along. Bonus tip: Give the moves a go without weight first to make sure your form is on point. There’s no pressure to add resistance here—these exercises work without them. Do what feels right.

Phase 2: Mat exercises that maximize the burn

Finish it off on the floor with fire hydrants and donkey kicks, which are funny names for serious moves. We’ll break it down for you so you can close out your workout with a burn.


Student hacks: More freebies than you’ll ever get again

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Student life is full of challenges, sometimes triggering a major case of enough already. You’re probably aware that the campus offers a bunch of services and resources designed to help you be healthy, resilient, and successful. Do they work? In surveys by Student Health 101, you say yes: These services can make the difference between passing or failing, an A or a B, staying in or dropping out. Students often say they regret waiting until they were in a crisis, and wish they’d accessed these resources earlier. Some report that for the longest time they didn’t know certain types of support existed.

Free stuff for students

Campus resources are usually available free or at a low cost. Of course, college gym membership, counseling, and so on are not literally free; their cost is covered by your tuition. If you don’t use them, you’re not getting what you’re paying for. In a recent survey by Student Health 101, more than three out of four college students said this is even more reason to access these services. If you wait until after you’ve graduated to learn yoga or get professional help with your social anxiety, it will likely be costly.

How to know what you have

The availability of resources at any given school depends on various factors. To learn what’s typically available and how can it make your life easier, click on each resource.

Here’s how to make sure you’re not missing out:

  • Scour your college website
  • Talk with staff, faculty, RAs, mentors, and other students
  • Check out any building, event, or publication that suggests resources for students
  • Look for student jobs and other opportunities to work with campus resource centers
  • Review your orientation resources (e.g., Class of 2020 Facebook page)

Academic tutoring, office hours, and study support

“The tutoring center has helped me more than words can describe. I finally understand the work I’m doing, plus it’s free! I went from being an average student to being above average and helping other kids in my classes.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, University of New Mexico

“They helped me bring my essay writing up to over 80 percent grade-level, elevating my writing ability from high school to university quality in one session.”
—Fifth-year online undergraduate, Trent University, Ontario

Typical services

  • Supports students through ongoing or short-term struggles, and helps students become more competitive (e.g., aspiring grad students looking to improve their grades)
  • Office hours provide individualized time with instructors or peer tutors
  • Study centers can help with time management, overcoming procrastination, note taking, effective reading, exam prep, etc.
  • Many study centers provide group workshops in key skills and specialized tutoring for different subjects (or referrals to community-based tutors)
  • Writing centers help students build college-level writing skills (e.g., via brainstorming and editing services)
  • Drop-in hours can help you find quick answers to specific questions
  • Cost if paying privately: $15–$25/hour (student tutors), $50–$75/hour (professional tutors) (various sources)

How it made the difference

“Huge! I took a coding class and had no prior programming experience. I was in office hours all the time. Without being able to go to my instructor for help, I would not have done nearly as well in the class as I did.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Missouri University of Science and Technology

“Office hours enabled me to get additional time with my TAs and further understand the material.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Johns Hopkins University, Maryland

Academic advising

“It’s the difference between passing and not passing classes, going to summer school vs. not going.”
—Third-year undergraduate, California State University, Stanislaus

“Without my advisor, I would be so lost on which classes to take when. She provides me with opportunities outside of just choosing classes to better myself in my career.”
—Third-year undergraduate, Northern Michigan University

Typical services

  • Guidance around what classes to take when, in order to meet graduation requirements efficiently, helps students get through their program more quickly and save money by taking classes in the most appropriate sequence
  • Guidance around accessing opportunities relating to degree goals (e.g., internships and conferences)
  • Support with decisions around personal goals relating to career, interests, and/or advanced degrees
  • May provide support with time management and study skills
  • Cost if paying privately: $50–$100/hour (services for students with disabilities) (various sources)

How it made the difference

“Attending academic advising made an incredible difference in relieving the stress of picking courses and making important choices regarding my studies and undergraduate career.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Trent University, Ontario

“My academic advisor helps identify a balanced combination of courses so that my course load is not overwhelming.”
—Fourth-year online undergraduate, Florida International University

“It made a world of difference between me going to grad school or not going… between succeeding and failing at the process.”
—First-year graduate student, California State University, Stanislaus

Recreational and fitness resources

“I wish I had started taking advantage of the recreation center and gym earlier, especially while access is free. Exercise is so important to staying healthy and happy, but I didn’t realize how big of an impact it can have.”
—Third-year undergraduate, Texas Christian University

“Changed my lifestyle and health habits completely.”
—First-year graduate student, University of North Dakota

Typical services

  • Free access to gym, weight room, track, pool, etc.
  • Free access to a range of fitness classes and intramurals (varies by school)
  • Most schools allow one guest per student with a nominal fee
  • Personal training (may involve a fee)
  • Consultation with nutritionist or fitness director (varies by school; may involve a fee)
  • Cost if paying privately: gym membership averages $58/month (Cheatsheet); personal training $80–$125/hour (Angie’s List).

How it made the difference

“It made a huge difference! Taking time between classes to work out helped me recharge and let me be ready to learn.”
—Third-year undergraduate, University of Guelph, Ontario

“It’s great to have free access to fitness equipment. It made a huge difference in my fitness and stress level.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Ferris State University, Michigan

“Having a gym close by is game-changing!”
 —Third-year undergraduate, Queen’s University, Ontario

Library services

“Getting support from librarians and library staff has saved me hours of work on papers and projects.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, Michigan Technological University

“I rented textbooks from the library, which saved me a lot of money.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, University of Windsor, Ontario

Typical services

  • Books, articles, and journals, hard-copy or electronic, available to borrow
  • Research assistance (e.g., finding resources, navigating databases, requesting articles)
  • Extensive online resources, sometimes including instant chat guidance
  • IT stations including free software access
  • Private or group study spaces
  • Loans and sometimes rentals of textbooks, laptops, and other materials (varies)
  • Access to software, such as Microsoft Office
  • Specialized research resources for needs relating to disability services and other programs
  • Printing, photocopying, and scanning (may involve fees)
  • Cost if paying privately: no direct equivalent

How it made the difference

“The library made a huge difference. It was a place of quiet where I could put 100 percent of my focus into my work. The people within the library also helped to bring my papers to the next level.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Concordia University of Edmonton, Alberta

“The friendly support of our librarians in helping me find journal articles through the library’s online databases made a huge difference in my being able to complete my research well.”
—Second-year graduate student, Arkansas Tech University

Disability, injury, and illness accommodations and services

“It changed everything. I finally felt like I was on an even playing field with my peers and didn’t have to stress that my condition was setting me back any more.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Stanford University, California

“I got sick with mono and didn’t go for help, and my grades went down. I wish I would have said something sooner to get time to finish school work.”
—Third-year undergraduate, Michigan Technological University

Typical services

  • Works to create equitable support services for students with physical, psychiatric, or developmental disabilities and illness
  • Academic and living accommodations to help students with challenges related to disability, injury, and illness
  • Core services include learning plan development, exam accommodations, assistive technologies, resources in alternate formats (e.g., Braille), finding funding support, general advising, and personalized support staff
  • Transportation assistance for students with limited mobility
  • Cost if paying privately: no direct equivalent

How it made the difference

“Disability services made a massive difference. I probably wouldn’t have made it through university without their support.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador

“The Accessibility Resource Center: The accommodations they allow for me are amazing and have greatly helped me succeed in courses.”
—Third-year undergraduate, University of New Mexico

“I have ADHD and never wanted to be one of those students who gets extra time and help... So I’ve never gotten help that I probably need. I haven’t overcome it and it’s probably negatively affecting me.”
—Third-year undergraduate, University of Maryland, Baltimore County


“The counseling center helped me more than any paid therapist ever has. They helped me nearly overcome my phobia and deal with substance abuse and sexual assault.”
—Third-year undergraduate, University of Memphis, Tennessee

“It made a huge difference in helping me understand myself and relate easier to fellow students.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Berea College, Kentucky

Typical services

  • Free counseling/therapy services, confidential for those age 18+ (below that age, inquire about confidentiality law and policy)
  • Individual and group counseling, emergency psychological services, and wellness programming including workshops and groups
  • Support with issues including life transitions and adjusting to college
  • Support with anxiety, stress, depression, other mental health conditions, identity, anger management, body image and disordered eating, family issues, motivation, substance abuse or dependency, abuse, suicidal thoughts, and more
  • Emergency phone line and/or on-call staff for after-business hours and weekends (at some schools)
  • Cost if paying privately: $50–$250/hour (uninsured); insurance typically covers a portion of mental health care.

How it made the difference

“There is a good chance I wouldn’t be in university right now without it.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, University of Windsor, Ontario

“Instead of focusing on me and my problems, I took advantage of group therapy, which allowed me to be a part of other people’s struggles and hear their experiences, difficulties, failures, and losses (and have them experience mine as well). I was able to see, learn from, grow, and get back to living my life.”
—Third-year graduate student, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, New York

“It made a tremendous difference in teaching me valuable lessons on controlling anxiety.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, Michigan Technological University

“I went through an incredibly difficult family emergency while in a very demanding program. Counseling helped me understand and work through the emergency and also provided support when I struggled academically, allowing me to carry on.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Trent University, Ontario

Health services

“The health center saved me a lot of money, because I don’t have good insurance coverage.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, University of West Georgia

“Excellent system, easy to access, and the doctors are very friendly. I wish I didn’t have so many hesitations and went to them sooner.”
—Third-year undergraduate, Mount Royal University, Alberta

Typical services

  • Consultations and treatment for injury, illness, and health maintenance via campus health center
  • Preventive health services including vaccinations (flu shots, travel vaccines, and more)
  • Smoking cessation, alcohol moderation, recovery support, and other substance use services
  • Specialist health services, including STI and pregnancy testing and birth control
  • Care with chronic allergies, illness (e.g., diabetes), and other conditions, including administering injections
  • Health care providers may include physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, psychologists, physician assistants, and specialists such as psychiatrists
  • Appointments are often free; tests and medications may involve fees
  • Many schools offer student health insurance and/or accept other health insurance
  • Urgent care centers: Cost will vary based on need and insurance
  • Cost if paying privately: uninsured new patient primary care visit averages $160 (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)

How it made the difference

“I love the free things they give out.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, California State University, Channel Islands

“It was so great to have assistance on campus and at such great prices for college students! I appreciate it so much!”
—Second-year undergraduate, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire

“The health center provided me with that-day doctor appointments, which minimized the amount of time I spent out of class sick.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, University of Wyoming

Career services

“Make use of small amounts of time you get in the day to access career support. This can make an enormous difference in how prepared you are.”
—Third-year undergraduate, University of Miami, Florida

“It helped me a lot in preparing for job interviews and fixing up my résumé, and the facility is really great about [facilitating] different opportunities and connections.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island

Typical services

  • Internship, summer job, and co-op opportunities, application information, and guidance on making the most of these positions
  • Résumé and cover letter review and workshops
  • Assessment of career interests and options
  • Networking assistance, including connections with alumni
  • Assistance with pursuing further education (e.g., graduate school)
  • Recruitment, job postings, and career fair
  • Exploring career options and strategy
  • Mock interviews
  • Cost of career coaching if paying privately: $100–$500/two-hour session (Undercover Recruiter)

How it made the difference

“Using this service allowed me to apply to summer jobs, confident that my documents were professional and appealing to potential employers.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, University of New Brunswick

“The Career Advancement Center allowed me to practice my interviewing skills with mock interviews and how to appropriately answer questions.”
—First-year graduate student, Midwestern University, Illinois

Residence life and mentoring

Typical services

  • Support through the range of challenges relating to transitions and college life
  • Formal mentoring programs can provide regular, structured check-ins (varies by school and student population)
  • Informal mentoring by mutual agreement can also be effective
  • Connections to peers and alumni
  • Cost of life coaching if paying privately: $100–$300/hour (LifeCoach.com)

How it made the difference

“It’s always nice to clear your head and speak to an actual person, and then be able to get back to schoolwork.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island

“RAs are incredibly important and useful. They’re the first person I go to with basically any question, and because they are older students, they can answer (honestly, too) any question that you can come up with.”
—Fifth-year undergraduate, University of North Dakota

“I worked at the Solution Center, which answers the campus main line and also is the IT Help Desk. Being a freshman, I learned a lot about deadlines, how things work, where to find information. I just learned about all my resources and what to do when I have issues with something. I basically learned everything about campus, and it helped so much.”
—Second-year undergraduate at California State University, Channel Islands

“Residence Life has been the most useful resource for advice on all sorts of matters. They became my most trusted mentors on campus.”
—Second-year graduate student, Emory University, Georgia

“My scholarship advisor has been a valuable resource, not just academically, but emotionally. He has helped talk me through all of the ups and downs and put things into perspective.”
—Third-year undergraduate, California State University, Stanislaus

Financial support

Typical services

  • Information on taxes, grants, scholarships, job openings, and more
  • Financial aid packages
  • Student loan information, counseling, and advocacy
  • Personal finance consultations for budgeting strategies
  • Drop-in sessions during office hours for information, advocacy, and financial counseling
  • Cost of financial planning if paying privately: $125–$350/hour (Bankrate.com)

How it made the difference

“The financial aid advisors are a great help; you realize the breakdown of a survival budget throughout school, until you get to where you want to be in life.”
—Second-year student, Elgin Community College, Illinois

“The financial aid office made a big difference in the amount of assistance I receive.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Cambrian College, Ontario

“Finance services can help you get a jump on financial opportunities on and around campus, such as work-study, job openings, and budgeting.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate student, Clemson University, South Carolina

“Student employment [opportunities at my school were] the top reason why I decided against transferring.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Endicott College, Massachusetts

Support for minority communities

Typical services

  • Special benefits/scholarships for veterans (via Veteran Affairs Office or equivalent)
  • International student services assist with cultural transitions and other issues
  • Native American student services may include advising, scholarships, housing, etc.
  • Chaplaincy and other religious and spiritual services offer community and worship, often in a multi-faith environment
  • Gender equity services and women’s centers provide community and support with issues relating to discrimination
  • Cost if paying privately: no direct equivalent

How it made the difference

“The indigenous student support services made it possible for me to complete my first undergrad and start my second one. I wish I’d accessed the Native Student Union earlier.”
—Second-year student, University of Victoria, British Columbia

“The gender equity center changed my perspective, provided support and education, and allowed me to connect with the campus community.”
—Fourth-year undergraduate, Boise State University, Idaho

“The international student office provides me with the information that I need for work and study permits.”
—Recent graduate, Fleming College, Ontario

Title IX (anti-discrimination) services

Typical services

  • Promotes a nondiscriminatory educational, living, and working environment
  • Confidential resources and support relating to actions that violate nondiscrimination laws and policies, including sexual assault, coercion, and harassment, and exclusion of transgender students from facilities and opportunities
  • Coordinates, provides, and/or refers to services including victim advocacy, housing assistance, academic support, counseling, disability services, health and mental health services, and legal assistance
  • Investigates cases of alleged misconduct and applies appropriate remedies
  • Provides advocacy and training related to discrimination and violence
  • Cost if paying privately: no direct equivalent.

How it made the difference

“One girl was harassing and bullying me. The police took the situation very seriously and took me to meet with the dean. I received a no-contact order with that student and have yet to hear from her since.”
—Second-year undergraduate, Indiana University Southeast

“It helped me with my sexual assault case and made me feel like my situation mattered.”
—Fourth-year online undergraduate, University of North Dakota

“I was 20 and a student during winter term [when I was sexually assaulted]. It made me feel powerless. I had tried to be his friend. I reported to my area coordinator and then later the public safety staff. I had to give a statement at the student board. Took three months to come up with a verdict.”
—Undergraduate, Oregon

Your wish list: What you'd like to see on campus

These responses came from students at numerous colleges and universities across the US and Canada. Some of these resources may be available at your school.

  • Free coffee
  • Public sleep/nap areas
  • Dance rooms or public art spaces
  • Prayer room
  • Sign language
  • Drivers Ed
  • Easier access to rental vehicles
  • Support with budgeting, filing taxes, and legal issues
  • Summer rec. center access
  • Vegetarian/vegan dining stations
  • Groups supporting eating healthy on residence meal plan
  • Gender-neutral bathrooms and housing
  • Clubs and scholarships for first-generation students
  • Better support for transfer students
  • Resources for young parents
  • Resources for disabled students to gain life skills

[survey_plugin] Article sources

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