The college search typically involves a lot of questions — about academic programs, meal plans, living arrangements and more. When making this list of items to research with your high school student, be sure to include questions about colleges’ healthcare services.
These services help keep students healthy so they can be successful in their college careers. At some point your child may need support related to their physical health, mental health, or emotional well-being. You’ll both want to know what the school offers and where your student can turn when that time comes.
Here are five important healthcare questions to ask as you help your child through their college search:
1. What healthcare-related resources could your college student need while at school?
Look into where the health center is located on campus, what services are provided, and how students access those services. Also consider: Where is the learning center and what do they offer? What mental health counseling is available and what are typical wait times? Where do students go if they need to be tested for COVID? Find out what services are free and what costs extra.
2. Does your child have a chronic medical and/or mental health need(s) that will need to be considered when choosing a college?
If so, it may be important to find providers in the surrounding area who can provide the continuity of care your child will need. If they’ll need to see a specialist off-campus, ask around for referrals and have medical records sent in advance.
3. Who is your child’s health insurer and what does the insurance cover?
Find out from your insurance company what in-network providers are in the area where your child plans to attend college. If your high schooler is not yet familiar with their health insurance card, teach them about it now, and how to use it when scheduling appointments. Have them take a picture of it and store it in their phone so they’ll have it available if needed.
4. Will your child need disability services?
Most colleges and universities have a disability services office. Encourage your child to contact the office to notify staff of needed accommodations and disability. While colleges are not held to the same legal obligations within your child’s individualized education plan (IEP), accommodations can be made via the Civil Rights Law to help your child identify and reduce potential barriers to their educational success.
5. What appointments will your teen need in the coming months, and will they get care at school or at home?
For more standard sorts of care, such as dental checkups and annual OB/GYN visits, schedule appointments in advance for breaks when your teen will be home from college. Don’t forget to ask your child’s dentist about wisdom teeth removal.
Having the answers to these questions in advance can help reduce stress when your teen moves in on campus and will allow them to know what to expect.
Editor’s Note: Erica Koe-Krompecher, LISW-S, LICDC-CS, OCPC, CCTSW, also contributed to this blog post. She is a social worker and school-based therapist with Cincinnati Children’s, with previous roles in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and in the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Teen Health.