The college prep diet is not about choosing apple slices over French Fries. It's about preparing the mind and body for the physical and mental rigors of earning a college degree. High school students can do things now as part of college prep to prepare for a healthy and successful college experience.
High school life
High school students balance academics, college admission exams, clubs and activities. Many hold jobs and/or play sports. They squeeze in some family, friend and alone time.
However busy they are, they usually have a routine, comfort and support of seeing the same people and places.
Almost everything changes when students enter college. There are new people to meet and places to go. Students will have new schedules, academics, friends, food, jobs, clubs and activities. Many will have their living situations altered. Those that will live away from home may find themselves in a small room with a stranger as a roommate and a meal plan for their breakfast, lunch and dinner. The financial cost is high with money needed for tuition, fees, books, supplies, transportation, room, board and personal expenses.
Pitfalls of college life
Time Conflicts require hard choices. College students often have scheduling problems for classes, study groups, jobs, clubs and other activities. Meals may only be offered at set times and places that may be inconvenient. For example, a student may have an 8 a.m. prerequisite class, a required course at noon and an elective in the evening. Any hope of starting the weekend or holiday breaks early are dashed if the student has this schedule on Fridays.
Sleep is often the unexpected victim of the college lifestyle. Although the hours in a day haven't changed, there are more things to do in twenty-four hours. College students often are not prepared for the increased academic and social demands. The larger work load of homework, papers and projects can be hard to manage. No one wants a reputation as a party pooper so it's hard to turn down an invitation to an exciting party or event. Sleep may become the unfortunate sacrifice.
Food is a pitfall because the introduction of new foods and eating times can wreak havoc, causing a host of unpleasant digestive problems. Higher education can fuel the mind but the "Freshmen Fifteen” can tax the body. The Freshmen Fifteen refers to the frequent packing on of some extra unwanted pounds at college. Although there may be healthier choices, college campuses often have cafeterias and fast food eateries temptingly loaded with fried and comfort foods plus fattening delicious desserts and coffee drinks. Portions may be hefty and doggy bags prohibited or discouraged. Conveniently located vending machines in dorms and academic buildings may be stocked with high caloric snack foods.
The College Prep Diet
Planning is the best way to manage time. Some colleges welcome students with a gift of a calendar and for good reason. Students can organize their schedule by placing all commitments in one space. It is a useful tool for college life and college prep, so why not have students get used to establishing their own routine now? Assign days and times for classes, homework, study groups, meetings with teachers, jobs, clubs and other activities. Mix in meal and exercise times and down time with friends and family. Don't forget to add some alone time including getting enough rest to handle a busy schedule.
When time conflicts arise, do a cost/benefit analysis. Then choose. For best chances of success, college-bound and college students must give priority to the goal of earning a college degree. That usually means academics come first. It also may mean foregoing nightly parties or not joining a club in exchange for a good semester's sleep. Once conflicts are resolved, assign specific times to complete each task. Be sure to leave ample time to enjoy life's necessities of eating of sleeping with some physical fitness and stress-reducing fun. Review and update periodically to maximize college prep and college life..
Push your limits
With privileges come responsibility, and higher education is expensive on both counts. The college-bound and college students expand their horizons academically and socially but pushing limits isn't the same as going overboard. Taking it too far can lead to poor health, academic probation, or worse. Most students know when they're pushing the envelope too far and veering off course. Use big college dreams as a motivator to keep on track for college prep and college studies.