The Freshman 15: It’s Not All You Should Worry About

For many young people about to start college, the famous Freshman 15 is a very real concern. According to Connie Diekman, the director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis, the 15 pounds gained by freshman is really only an average. This means that you have much more important things to worry about. Here are five things that you should concern yourself when you head off to college:

The Freshman 15: It’s Not All You Should Worry About

Stress

College is stressful; there’s no getting around it. How you handle that stress is what will make all the difference. You’ll have to learn how to deal with being away from home for the first time, take care of yourself, manage a full course load and cohabitate with strangers. If you don’t deal with this stress the right way, you could very well end up sick. Try taking a yoga class, calling home and talking to a family member, or even speaking with your advisor. Any of these things can help you when you feel overwhelmed.

Hangovers

Think hangovers are no big deal? Think again. If you aren’t used to drinking, dealing with your Friday-night alcohol binge can be tough. While no one will tell you not to go out with your friends, you should pay attention to how much you drink. For men, the limit should be set at four drinks or one per hour. For women, the max limit is three drinks or one per hour. You don’t have to pound the beers or double-fist it to have a good time. You’ll be happy come Saturday morning that you drank slower than your friends.

STDs

Speaking of drinking, did you know that alcohol lowers your inhibitions? Combine lowered inhibitions with that hot guy at the end of the bar, and you’re at a very real risk for contracting an STD. That’s not to say that you have to be drunk to contract one. You may feel like a grown up when you head off to college for the first time, but the important thing is that you act like one. Don’t engage in sexual behaviors with multiple partners, without protection and without first asking that hot guy if he has an STD.

Violence

People are attacked on college campuses. Though we like to think that we’re perfectly safe no matter where we go, the fact of the matter is that we are not. Don’t do anything to make yourself a victim. Avoid walking across campus at night by yourself. Stay on well-lit walkways and always be aware of the location of emergency call boxes on campus. Avoid flashing your money, keep your cell phone in your pocket and walk with purpose.

Health

You’ve had an adult taking care of you up until now. When young people enter college, it’s not unusual for them to quickly fall ill. Now that you’re responsible for taking care of yourself, make sure that you do so. Stick to a healthy diet, get more exercise than just walking to and from class, and know where to go on and off campus if you get sick.

While weight gain is a very real possibility once you enter college, it’s not the biggest concern that you have. Follow the tips above and you’ll stay as healthy and safe as you can while on your own. Try to remember all of those healthy habits your parents taught you; you’ll be thankful if you do.

Karen Alton is an avid blogger. If you’re in Portland, look into Portland testing for sexually transmitted infections.

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