by M. McCray

College life is full of surprises, but students shouldn't feel caught off guard by them. If you’re proactive, you can prepare yourself for all the twists and turns that come with spending time or living on campus. Here are a few good questions to ask your academic advisor and start your college experience on the right foot.

Is there a health clinic on campus?

The last thing you want to do when sick is drag yourself across town to stand in a long line at some clinic. Most college campuses have a health center on-site and allow same-day appointments. The best part is these services are affordable. In the best-case scenarios, on-site medical services are free for students.

While extensive services may not be available, students will find that many campuses provide comprehensive preventative healthcare and affordable prescriptions. Some colleges have a pharmacy, too.

Since most colds don’t require a doctor, you can buy cough drops and over-the-counter medicines on campus. You just have to know where to look. This leads us to our next important question.

Is there a store on campus?

Let’s face it: students are bound to run out of soap and leftovers. Mom and dad likely won't drop off food or care packages every week. What should you do when you just can’t stomach another bite of school pizza or deal with your unruly hair? What if you don’t have a vehicle to get to and from a store?

You need to know whether and where you can purchase food, toiletries, and other essentials. Be sure to note average prices at your campus store so you can decide whether it’s smarter to shop online, on-site, or take a trip home to raid your parents’ cabinets.

What kind of mental health services does the school provide?

Mental health is no longer a taboo topic, and we know that students (will) deal with stress. Course loads, new living arrangements, interpersonal conflicts, and separation from family can cause anxiety. If your school does not offer (free) alternatives to talk therapy, such as yoga, you may need to seek traditional counseling.

Many colleges provide free or low-cost therapy to students. You may also receive a discount on mental health services outside of the university with a student ID. If you work or just prefer to remain anonymous, online options exist. You may consider using prepaid gift cards to purchase therapy services.

No matter how you choose to take care of your mental health, you must make it a priority; especially as a student.


As you venture into higher education, you’ll learn that grades and parties aren’t the only things that matter. Your health, safety, and comfort are more important. Furthermore, you are not alone in your new venture. Whether you rely on academic advisors, personal connections, or professional therapists, you can create the emotional safety net you need.

Make campus life an exciting and insightful experience.

Asking smart questions will help you ease into college with confidence.

Can you think of anything else you or your peers should learn when visiting or enrolling in college?

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