High School Senior Survival Guide
May brings graduations and young adults who are eager to move out on their own. But an array of choices await: everything from shopping on a budget to choosing the right foods and getting enough exercise requires knowledge and planning, and parents or mentors may no longer be close by to help.
Taking time to learn a few basics can help high school seniors build their own survival guide, regardless of whether they are headed to college or other post-secondary schools or into the workforce.
A first area for graduates to explore is budgeting. Food no longer magically appears in the pantry when you’re on your own, and costs can mount quickly. Using coupons, reading ad circulars and shopping for sale items, plus purchasing from Aldi stores, are some simple ways to save money on food. Holly Schmitz, nutritional services manager at Community HealthCare System, or CHCS, said overall budgeting is also important.
“Many apps are available to help make budgeting easy on your phone. Learning to understand and stay within your budget is so important. In terms of helping with your food budget, using your local store’s website to find out about in-store deals and reward programs can also help save money,” Schmitz said.
Aside from learning to shop within a budget, young people also need to ensure they are eating the right foods. In their first year away from home, some studies show that students attending college often gain the dreaded “freshman 15.” Other studies find that new college students gain four to 10 pounds. Both sexes gain weight, but men gain more and experience a larger increase in BMI, or body mass index.
“The transition to college is a critical time in terms of obesity prevention. So many food and drink options are available, and students no longer have to rely on what parents make or buy. It’s important to learn to read nutrition labels, exercise and make healthy choices,” said Andrea Lutz, rehab and fitness manager at Community HealthCare System.
Schmitz said that nutrition labels are fairly easy to read. Everyone should check serving sizes and consider how much is appropriate to eat considering calorie and activity levels. It’s crucial to pay attention to saturated fat, sodium and added sugar. These are nutrients that everyone should aim to limit. Lower on the label are nutrients people need more of, including dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.
“Taking a quick look at nutrition labels and learning how to aim for balance in the foods you purchase and eat is important. If you’re eating foods high in saturated fat, sodium or added sugars, you may struggle to maintain a healthy weight, and some of our favorite foods, like pizza and cheese, are high in sodium,” Schmitz said.
Regardless of whether a young person is attending postsecondary school or heading to the workforce, maintaining fitness and positive body image is crucial to overall health and wellness.
“If you’ve always participated in high school sports, it’s important to find ways to replace that physical activity,” said Melissa Talley, chief practice management officer at CHCS. “If you haven’t been physically active in high school, it’s time to start!” she said.
Talley said fitness blogs or podcasts and fitness apps can help young adults find workouts that keep them active and burn calories. Other tips to maintain fitness include participating in intramural sports or special community sand volleyball or dodgeball tournaments, parking far away from work or class, or joining a gym. Employers often offer health incentives including gym benefits or discounts.
“Take advantage of incentive programs at work, or the fitness facilities at your college or university. Participate in your dorm flag football team, or ask new friends to go out for a walk or play Frisbee. You’ll feel better both physically and mentally if you have that outlet,” Talley said.
Personal training and nutrition consulting is available at Community HealthCare System locations in northeast Kansas. The best approach is to talk to your healthcare provider. For questions, please call 785-889-4272.