How to Manage Being Sick in College

When you catch a cold in high school, there’s something sort of nice about staying home from school and being taken care of by your mom. However, the reality of getting sick in college is something quite different altogether.

After you head off to college, the chances are pretty good that you’ll get sick at least a few times during your time away at a college or university. Living quarters are generally tight, germs can spread easily in a college dorm, and stress can be high at school. When you get sick away from home, the main difference is that you’re more than likely on your own, so mom and dad can’t really bring you Tylenol and feel your forehead if you’re feeling crummy.

So how to manage? Here are a few tips on how to take care of yourself when you’re nursing a cold or another sickness at school.

1. Get some sleep

When your body is sick, it needs rest. While it’s tempting to ignore your symptoms and keep going and going, it’s important that you have some downtime and take it easy for a few days. It can be hard to say no to the activities you’re involved with, stay home from a party or get together with friends, and spend all day in bed, but it’s really important that you don’t try to cram in all-night study sessions or go to a late-night movie with your buddies while you’re feeling ill.

Let yourself sleep! By running around too much when you don’t feel well, you could potentially make yourself even sicker. The world will keep on running without you, and you’ll be able to catch up on everything in due time, so take some time away from the busyness and rest up.

2. Let your professors know

Give your professors a heads up that you’re sick and might be missing a few days of class. Different professors have different rules for how missing class works, but it’s important you let them know on the front end—particularly if you have a big paper due, a test, or a presentation to give.

A quick email should do the trick, and it will pay off to connect with your professors early and graciously ask for an extension on any projects with deadlines you might miss while you’re gone from class. Keep checking in if you’re sick for several days in a row, and you might be able to get some of your assignments completed and turned in over email.

3. Head to the campus health center

It might just be a cold, but it could be something more serious. Not only can you get basic cold medicine at the health center, but they can examine you to see if you have a fever or need a referral. They can also prescribe antibiotics and offer some solid advice on how to get back on your feet.

Another helpful element of visiting your campus’ health center is that the nurse or doctor there can provide you with a note confirming that you are, indeed, sick. Most professors appreciate some physical verification that you actually are sick before they excuse your late work and absences from class.

4. Let your friends and roommates know

It’s a good idea to give your friends and roommates a heads up as soon as you’re not feeling well. If you’re contagious, that gives your roommate some time to arrange some other sleeping arrangements if he or she prefers, and it might help your dorm room be a bit quieter if you end up being the only one there. Your friends also deserve to know if they were exposed to your germs, and they can vouch for you in class if you’re unable to go.

A few brave friends might even swing by with a tub of get-soup and maybe a bit of ice cream too! They might also make a quick run to the pharmacy for you if you’re needing some extra medicine, Vitamin C, or saltine crackers.

5. Take care of yourself

Sleep is certainly important, but it’s not the only way you can take care of yourself. Make sure you’re hydrating yourself and eating some gentle-on-the-stomach nutritious foods as well!

Settle back into your couch with a bowl of chicken soup, switch on Netflix, and take it easy.