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What Parents and Teens Need to Know to Prepare to Stay Healthy in College

Posted on Sep 24, 2018

Jasmine Reese, M.D.

Heading off to college can be a big transition for young people and they need to learn how to take care of their medical and financial needs. It’s good to lay the groundwork with high school juniors and seniors as they prepare for their futures. Jasmine Reese, M.D., is the director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Specialty Clinic at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. She offers some helpful tips for preparing young people.

What are some health tips to consider before starting college?

  • Be sure to schedule your annual physical at least three to four months before starting at your new college or school as this might be a requirement for admission.

  • ​Check with your primary care doctor to ensure your vaccines are up to date. Many colleges will require vaccination for meningitis, hepatitis B, influenza and also tuberculosis (TB) skin testing.

  • If you are moving away from home, most places of higher education will have student health centers. It’s a great idea to establish care with them before starting classes so you have a medical provider who can provide routine care and any medication refills you might need throughout the school year.

  • What are some things to consider early on during your senior year in high school?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, an estimated 3.6 million students will be graduating from high school during the 2018-2019 school year. This means you might have a lot of competition for college scholarships, grants, and financial aid so it’s time to start planning.

Don’t forget to complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) early in the year, on or after October 1. You can find this application that is available in both English and Spanish online at The colleges you apply to will use this application information to decide on the amount of financial aid you will be able to receive. A few things you will need to complete the application include a Social Security card, W2 forms, tax records and most likely your parent’s information so you should be partnering with them during this application process.

What are different sources of financial aid that can help?

  • You should work with your school guidance counselor to learn more about what scholarship opportunities exist locally, such as the Bright Futures scholarship in Florida, or even nationally. Sometimes a parent’s employer or a group to which he or she belongs might offer scholarships. Oftentimes, there are different scholarships for outstanding grade point averages, writing essays, musical talent or for excelling at sports.

  • If you receive grants or eligibility for work study, this is great news because this would be money you DON’T have to pay back.

  • If you qualify for federal student loans, this is money that you DO have to pay back so be sure to borrow only the amount you actually need.

This information was shared on WTVT-TV’s Doc on Call segment, which is aimed at helping parents learn more about children’s health issues. The segment airs each Monday morning on Good Day Tampa Bay.

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