Your First Year: Maintaining Your Physical Health and Wellness

Champlain College’s Student Health Center reminds us to eat healthy foods, keep hydrated, keep active, wash our hands—and get plenty of sleep.

Transitioning to college is a big period in your life, and any transition can be a little more difficult if you’re slowed down by a cold. When in college, it’s just as important to maintain your personal health as it is to get to class on time.

To help you take good care of yourself, we asked one of our Champlain College nurse practitioners, Annika Hawkins-Hilke, to answer some common questions you may have about illnesses to watch out for, common health practices, fitness and nutrition, student resources, and more!

What is the Champlain College Student Health Center?

The Champlain College Student Health Center provides free professional health services to all Champlain College students who live on campus and commuter students. Students are never billed for any service provided by the Student Health Center, whether they’ve signed up for the college health insurance or use an outside provider. 

The nurses, nurse practitioners, and health consultants on campus provide injury and illness evaluations, prescribe cold medications, offer health counseling, answer your health questions and concerns, and perform lab studies for diagnostic testing. You can find help, counseling, and medical support for anything from the common cold to skin infections, sexual health, mental health, dietary needs, and more. 

The Student Health Center is located in the ground level of Whiting Hall, on 203 S. Willard Street. It is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM during the school year. To schedule an appointment, please call 802.860.2711, email healthservices@champlain.edu, or feel free to walk in and schedule an appointment with the front desk.

Student Health Center at Champlain College
The Champlain College Student Health Center is open from 8:30 AM–4:30 PM every weekday and is free for all students. Photo by Logan Hall-Potvin, ’19 // Hall-Potvin Photography

What are some things I should do every day to try and keep healthy?

“Sleep, wash your hands, stay hydrated, and eat healthy foods!” says Hawkins-Hilke. 

These four things can do a lot of good for your body and mind. Hawkins-Hilke says these practices can help you feel happier, healthier, and more productive. In addition, they help ward off sickness. 

The Health Center says the most common things they see are short-term infectious illnesses, like the common cold or sore throats. Remember that lack of sleep, water, and proper nutrition can weaken your body’s defenses, and keeping a healthy immune system is the best way to ward off these spreadable infections. Hawkins-Hilke also recommends getting the flu shot, which is offered for free at Champlain and around the Burlington area. 

Maintaining a clean living area also helps you avoid those pesky first-year colds. Hawkins-Hilke recommends a weekly wash of your room, including your sheets, laundry, flooring, desk, and any other surfaces. 

“The exception to that recommendation is door knobs!” Hawkins-Hilke notes. “During the cold season, think about wiping down your doorknob with a disinfecting wipe every day to prevent catching that nasty cold from roommate!”

Students in their residence hall at Champlain College
Maintaining a clean living space is an essential practice in any healthy lifestyle. Photo by Ryan Bent, ’08 // Ryan Bent Photography

How can I take care of my nutritional needs? 

Healthy eating is one of Hawkins-Hilke’s four pillars of healthy living. It can be tempting to grab late-night snacks and order lots of take-out while in college, but Hawkins-Hilke reminds students that if your body isn’t used to having certain foods all of the time, it can react negatively—it may even disrupt your sleep patterns. 

Hawkins-Hilke says, if you want to make sure you’re getting the right foods, change your approach to filling your plate. 

“We always recommend you start at the back of the dining hall where you will find the salad bar and healthy entrées,” Hawkins-Hilke suggests. That way, your plate will be full of the fruits and vegetables your body needs, and just a small portion of your plate is left for the foods your body doesn’t need as much of. 

IDX Student Life Center dining hall at Champlain College
Start with the food options at the back of the IDX Dining Hall (i.e. salad bar and healthy entrées), then find a spot to enjoy the view in the main dining area.

If you want to further discuss your nutrition (or specialized cases such as food allergies and sensitivities) with a professional, Champlain has multiple resources to help. 

“The Student Health Center is happy to see you to discuss nutrition!” says Hawkins-Hilke. “We also have relationships with several nutritionists in Burlington and are happy to schedule an appointment to see one of them if you need more specialized nutrition support.”

Students eating in the IDX Student Life Center at Champlain College
Nutrition is one of the pillars of healthy living and starts with making good choices for every meal at the dining hall in the IDX Student Life Center. Photo by Ryan Bent, ’08 // Ryan Bent Photography

What about fitness and exercise? How do I keep active on campus?

Hawkins-Hilke encourages students to try and incorporate exercise into their daily routine. Physical routines can help maintain a healthy immune system and overall well-being. 

“We see many students who participated in team sports, intramural sports, and clubs during high school now miss that daily exercise,” Hawkins-Hilke explains. At Champlain, students can still find lots of physical activities and sports through our clubs like Champlain Ski & Ride, our Hiking Club, Quidditch Club, Dance Team, or our intramural rugby and soccer teams—or they can take advantage of our Fitness Center.

Fitness Center located in the IDX Student Life Center at Champlain College
The Champlain Fitness Center is located in the lower level of the IDX Student Life Center.

The Champlain Fitness Center is a fully equipped gym on campus, complete with free-weights, dance studio, benches, fitness machines, and cardio stations. You can even sign up for sessions with a personal trainer to help you achieve your fitness goals. Plus, for those who prefer classes over individual workouts, the Fitness Center offers weekly classes like Zumba, yoga, pilates, strength training, and more.

“There are plenty of opportunities to be active on campus, but a busy college schedule can make exercise feel like too much. It’s not! We promise!” explains Hawkins-Hilke. “Daily exercises will in fact make you more productive, happier, and sleep better—thus improving your academics! Routine is so important. Find the time that will work for you, and stick to it!”

The Fitness Center is open to all students for free from 6:30 AM–11:00 PM Monday through Friday, and 9:00 AM–11:00 PM on weekends.

Daily exercises will in fact make you more productive, happier, and sleep better—thus improving your academics!

Annika Hawkins-Hilke, Nurse Practitioner, Health & Wellness Coordinator
Rugby Team at Champlain College
Joining a club or team sport on campus, such as the Rugby Team, is a great way to stay active and make new friends! Photo by Logan Hall-Potvin, ’19 // Hall-Potvin Photography

Do you offer transgender health resources?

“Our staff are all experienced in transgender health,” says Hawkins-Hilke. You can learn more about Champlain’s transgender health resources on our student resources page, or by speaking to the professionals at the Health Center. 

The Health Center is a resource to students during the school year, but during the summer students are encouraged to see a primary doctor. “We do not manage transgender health care independently, as we are not a primary care office and are not open year-round,” explains Hawkins-Hilke. “However, we are happy to help coordinate care with your home provider.”

Are service dogs/animals allowed on campus?

Absolutely. While students are not allowed to have pets, service animals are welcome at Champlain. You can read more about our policy around animals here.

Who can I talk to about accessibility needs?

Our Office of Accessibility is your go-to resource. You can check out their services and information, or contact them at accessibility@champlain.edu or by calling 802.865.5764.

“If you are unsure if you require an academic accommodation or other support, we are more than happy to discuss it with you at the Student Health Center,” Hawkins-Hilke adds.

When do I need to see an outside health provider?

While the Student Health Center offers many primary health care services, it does not replace your doctor.  

“We always recommend you keep your primary care provider at home, or establish one in Burlington if you plan to stay in Vermont year-round,” says Hawkins-Hilke. “We are closed during the summer and we do not have a medical provider available on call 24 hours a day, which your primary care will offer.” 

When the Health Center is not open, Hawkins-Hilke recommends visiting at an urgent care center in Burlington. “We post information about these centers in all of the Champlain residence halls, and we routinely educate Residential Life staff about after-hours support,” Hawkins-Hilke says. “You will find advice as well as details for urgent care centers on our webpage. Residential Life staff and Campus Public Safety are also all excellent resources when we are closed.” 

In addition, the Health Center currently cannot administer allergy shots. “We would be happy to refer you to a local allergist who routinely sees college students in Burlington during the academic year,” says Hawkins-Hilke. “Any other specialized care you might need? Please reach out and ask, and we will help you establish any support you need.”

Champlain College mascot, Chauncey T. Beaver, getting a free flu shot
Chauncey wants you to get your free flu shot!

If you have questions about any health concerns you may have entering college, or questions about accommodations or assistance, reach out to the Student Health Center at healthservices@champlain.edu, or call 802.860-2711

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