Austin, Texas— With a new school year comes an influx of people- as well as the germs they carry with them- this has resulted in an increase of University of Texas students falling behind in their classes.
Many come to the University of Texas at Austin in order to begin their pursuit of a degree, little do they know that the first semester can be a challenging one, with a high risk for health problems that may lead to difficulties with keeping up with classwork.
“Almost 15% surveyed last fall had negative academic impact as a result of upper respiratory infections,” said University Health Services’ outreach coordinator and consumer educator, Sherry Bell, “Students reported lower grades, significant interruptions in completion of coursework, and even got to the point where they needed to drop a class altogether.”
Jessica Slate, a freshman at The University of Texas at Austin, already finds it difficult to stay on track while fighting flu-like symptoms.
“ I find a lot more excuses to lay in bed, watch TV, play on my computer, stuff like that, instead of writing essays or doing work that’s due because I feel so lousy.”
It’s not unusual that one would choose to enjoy leisure activities over completing assignments, but when faced with being sick, it is that much harder to stay motivated. This attitude is not only seen with new students but is also found with upperclassmen.
As the years go by this problem doesn’t abide by the adage “ older and wiser” but simply continues as a pressing issue no matter how many sick days a student racks up.
“Personally, I didn’t care to concentrate on taking notes when I had my nose to worry about,” says Julie Berger, a Junior at The University of Texas at Austin, “I didn’t want to do it but last week I left my 2 hour class 3 times to take care of my runny nose and sore throat. It’s annoying because I feel like I miss so much but it’s like I don’t have a choice, I notice I’m bothering people.”
As a notably large college campus of 40,000+ students from not only around the country, but the world, it’s very easy for illnesses to be spread fast.
“When one area is exposed to different strains of viruses, put in tight, highly crowded, spaces, even if a student carries a slightly different strain, not everyone has the immunity, and when exposed will get infected”, says Bell.
However, with every problem there’s always a solution. The University Health Services (UHS) here at UT frequently convey their message of how to prevent getting sick, and when students do be become ill, the variety of services available to them to get healthy again.
Not all students see their sickness serious enough to pay the UHS a visit to get the help they need.
“Different people go at different comfort levels,” says Bell.
According to the University Health Services’ Top 40 Diagnosis for the Start of Fall 2013, the largest diagnosis of 318 upper respiratory infections are according to Bell, “that who actually chose to go see doctors and seek medical assistance.”
With all the people who state that poor health conditions play a great role in falling behind in their studies, there are many who decide to take it upon themselves and attempt at self-care.
“For every person that comes in with, let’s say, a runny nose, there may be thirty more that opt not to make an appointment,” Bell says, “ It seems logical to go see a doctor when you’re sick, but a great number of people simply don’t.”
In order to stay healthy and stay on track with one’s academics UHS faculty urges students to take advantage of the services provided. However, for various reasons since many do not, the UHS makes it a point to inform students about easy steps they can take to prevent getting infected on their own.
Bell talks to students about how less than 10 tips can help one stay healthy. The most useful are also the simple ones in the fight against disease during this time, especially flu season such as washing hands, coughing into your elbow or tissue, getting a good night’s sleep, and staying hydrated.
“If all else fails, these are easy steps to avoid falling subject to infection,” says Bell.
Whether students have a runny nose or a full on flu, between the wide array of services at their disposable and the statistics regarding the impact being sick has on academics, Bell says that all students have the information they need to assist them as they gear up for the school year.