12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness

12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness

Written by: Pavita Singh

In a recent blog, we talked about the importance of taking care of your mental health in college. By now, you probably know that you can’t do your best work to succeed academically if you are not healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. Unfortunately, many college environments don’t make it easy to make your health a priority, what with the immense pressure of classes, balancing academics with extracurriculars, all-you-can-eat dining options that might not be serving the healthiest of foods, peer pressure around drugs and alcohol, lack of knowledge about health-promoting behaviors, and other anxieties associated with college life.

Fortunately, colleges are making a great deal of progress in prioritizing student wellness and encouraging students to take care of themselves. Without a doubt, we still have a long way to go, as students still cite lack of time, lack of awareness of resources, and stigma as reasons for not attending to their health needs, but we are certainly moving in the right direction. Colleges with strong health and wellness promotion programs set help students cultivate healthy behaviors that will prepare them to lead successful, positive, and productive lives.

When we discuss health and wellness, it is important that we address all 7 pillars—physical, mental, emotional, environmental, social, sexual, and spiritual. Each of these pillars are interconnected and thus deserve equal effort. In this blog we discuss 12 colleges that stand out in terms of their holistic health promotion and student wellness efforts.

InfoBlog_13_CollegesForHealthWellness_Bowdoin-300x200 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness1. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME: Bowdoin buys its food from local farmers and cooks it in small batches in order to offer students the freshest meals. The dining halls cater to students with a variety of dietary needs and preferences, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and nut-free, and students love the food. In fact, Bowdoin has been deemed one of the colleges with the best-tasting food. There is an organic garden where students can work, a monthly nutritional education program, and a collaborative called “Meet What You Eat,” which teaches students about food-related issues such as sustainability. Bowdoin’s location makes it a great spot for outdoor adventurers. On campus, students at Bowdoin have access to a Nordic skiing center, a golf course, a sailing center, and a rowing center. The Wellness Center at Bowdoin offers acupuncture, reflexology, Chinese medicine, massage, and integrative medicine approaches as well as classes on yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and Qigong.

InfoBlog_13_CollegesForHealthWellness_WashU-300x200 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness

2. Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO: Washington University dining partners with Bon Appetit Management Company—a leader in college dining. Students at Wash U have access to high-quality meals, including vegetarian, kosher, halal, and allergen-free foods. The Studio40 kitchen offers cooking classes and demonstrations from live chefs. The campus’s Bear Balance Movement aims to increase the amount of whole and plant-based foods and access to nutritionists. Before final exams, the library hosts stress-free zones, which include care packages, relaxation stations, and free backrubs. Students can take part in individual and group counseling sessions to discuss anything from depression and anxiety to eating disorders to self-esteem. The Habif Health & Wellness Center offers programs on mental health first aid, nutrition, fitness, sexual health, and violence prevention, and the South 40 Fitness Center has group fitness and cycling classes, weight and cardio training, massages, and personal training.

InfoBlog_13_CollegesForHealthWellness_UCDavis-300x200 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness3. University of California, Davis, Davis, CA: In addition to all the usual special diet options, UC Davis also has low-microbial options in the dining hall. The university has an environmentally friendly food program that teaches students about such topics as mindful eating and home composting, and there is a student nutrition talk coordinator in every dining hall who can answer food-related questions. The campus is also one of the most bicycle-friendly—it was recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a platinum-level bicycle-friendly university. There’s a mobile cart called the “Love Lab,” which is stocked with free safer sex supplies. One of the best known campus amenities is the Mind Spa, which has massaging recliners and audio guided meditation recordings. What’s more is that the health and wellness center is a leader in environmentally friendly design.

InfoBlog_13_CollegesForHealthWellness_Cornell-300x200 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness4. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY: Cornell has over 30 dining facilities on campus, and they all make it easy to identify the healthiest foods. Foods that are 100% whole grain, 100% trans fat-free, made with fresh ingredients, or low in fat, sugar, or salt are marked with an “Eating Well Apple” icon. The university’s agricultural program ensures that all dining facilities have access to fresh ingredients. Fun fitness options at Cornell include indoor and outdoor basketball courts, an open-lap swimming pool, sand volleyball courts, pool and ping pong tables, a 16-lane bowling center, archery, and underwater hockey. The 5 fitness centers offer 80 group classes a week. Cornell also encourages health and wellness habits among faculty and staff members. Faculty, staff, and retirees and their significant others can take part in the Staff & Faculty Wellness Program.

InfoBlog_13_CollegesForHealthWellness_Whitman-300x200 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness5. Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington: One of Whitman’s claims to fame is Scrambles—a social and physical health program for first-year students led by the school’s Outdoor Program. A small group of incoming freshmen go an a Pacific Northwest outdoor adventure, which includes backpacking in the wallows, sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands, and rock climbing at Smith Rock. Whitman students can also enjoy a 7000-square-foot climbing wall and a 10,000-square-foot fitness center with a 30-meter pool. Over 70% of students are involved in intramural sports, and hundreds are involved in club sports. Whitman’s Bike Share Program provides free 24-hour bike rentals for students to run errands or exercise. All campus food is sourced from local farms and cooked from scratch. The health center is staffed 24/7 and offers massage therapy, sports medicine, access to nutritionists, HIV testing, and transportation for medical appointments.

InfoBlog_13_CollegesForHealthWellness_UMass-300x200 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness6. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA: Several fun health promotion-based initiatives take place at UMass Amherst, including the Real Food Challenge Campus Commitment, in which the campus commits to procuring 20% real, local, sustainable, humane, and fairly traded food by 2020; UFIT, a 10-week program designed to foster healthy lifestyles through positive peer motivation; and Get Moving UMass, which educates the UMass community about the benefits of regular physical activity and offers tips on fun ways to be healthy. Campus Recreation has a whole array of programs, including over 100 weekly fitness classes; a 24,000-square-foot gym with 140 items of weight and cardio equipment; badminton, basketball, volleyball courts; and handball, squash, and aquatics amenities; wellness workshops; and certification classes. The student workers at Campus Recreation started a blog called Be Well UMass, which provides tips and insights on nutrition, fitness, and wellness. Campus Recreation has been recognized for its environmentally friendly design. The Wellness Center has support programs on such topics as healthy eating, substance abuse, stress, and smoking cessation.

InfoBlog_13_CollegesForHealthWellness_UnivTexAustin-300x200 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness7. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX: UT Austin clearly understands the modern college student, which is apparent in its health and wellness promotion efforts. The university has a texting program called “Healthyhorns,” which sends subscribers short texts with general health tips and information about campus events, sleep, nutrition, physical activity, alcohol, and stress management. Students can also get healthy eating tips weekly from the @UTexasDining Twitter account. The University Health Services website is comprehensive and, allows students to easily find information on any health-related topic they can think of. The MindBody Lab, housed in the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, offers walk-in services and programs on relaxation and meditation. Other issues that CMHC staff target include sleep, body image, stress management, drugs and alcohol, and violence prevention. Student voices are taken seriously at UT Austin; per student request, the Housing and Food Service at UT Austin added 42 vegan entrees to its menu in the fall of 2016.

InfoBlog_13_CollegesForHealthWellness_UCLA-300x200 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness8. University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA: UCLA has a world-class fitness facility, which is open day and night throughout the week, so that students with even the busiest schedules can fit in some workout time. Students take part in club and intramural sports and in the Outdoor Adventures program, which includes an in-house bike shop, a rock wall, and wilderness outings. Catering to the needs of the digitally connected generation, the university has a 24/7 Nurseline phone service and the FITWELL program, which gives students access to a mobile unit of fitness instructors who can guide them through 15- or 30-minute workouts. At the Mind Body Clinic at the Student Health & Wellness Center, students can get acupuncture, massage therapy, and disease prevention advice.

InfoBlog_13_CollegesForHealthWellness_UnivFlorida-300x200 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness9. University of Florida, Gainesville, FL: University of Florida has over 50 intramural and club sports that students can choose from. The Counseling and Wellness Center has a Therapist Assisted Online initiative where students with anxiety can receive online counseling via video conferencing. According to the students, this program has had better results than the center’s in-person counseling program. Students who wish to take part in group therapy sessions can do so at the center. There are groups that are catered to students experiencing stress, depression, or bereavement; LGBT students; and black female students, among others.

InfoBlog_13_CollegesForHealthWellness_Stanford-300x200 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness10. Stanford University, Stanford CA: Stanford’s 30+ dining facilities serve delicious and nutritious foods for students to enjoy. Its on-campus recreational facilities include an equestrian barn, a golf course, a pool, a climbing wall, tennis courts, and a rowing and sailing center. As part of university’s BeWell program, students can take a free Student Health Appraisal, during which an advisor will help them create a personal wellness plan. Coaching and counseling on topics such as nutrition, weight management, body image, healthy relationships, sexual health, and emotional wellbeing are available at the health center. Students can also take part in programs such as “I Thrive@Stanford,” the HIV Peer Anonymous Counseling and Testing Program, and Peer Health Educators. They can also subscribe to the student wellness online magazine, Student Health 101.

InfoBlog_13_CollegesForHealthWellness_UnivGeorgia-300x200 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness11. University of Georgia, Athens, GA: UGA’s dining halls have a long list of vegetarian and vegan options, and there is even a special line for foods with less than 30% of calories from fat. There are Nutrition Education Sections in every dining hall that contain brochures and healthy recipe cards. Other nutrition services include consultations for students with dietary restrictions the Build Your Plate Program, which allows students to view daily meal options on an app and build a virtual plate and assess its nutritional value. The Ramsey Student Center stretches over 8 acres and has 2 gyms, 3 pools, 10 racquetball courts, 8 basketball courts, a suspended track, a rock climbing wall, a bouldering wall, and a 19,000-square-foot weight-lifting room. The university also sponsors off-campus outdoor trips, which include paddleboarding, rafting, backpacking, hiking, and yoga. Students can take part in FIT Dawg, an intense, biweekly, 45-minute training program with trained professionals. The health center has a strong health promotion department. Following a $17 million expansion in 2009, the center added psychiatric appraisal and medication monitoring to its already wide array of services.

InfoBlog_13_CollegesForHealthWellness_Ohio-300x200 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student Wellness12. Ohio State University, Columbus, OH: Ohio State believes in a very broad definition of health and wellness, which is why in addition to the 7 pillars addressed above, OSU also places an emphasis on what’s called “financial health.” There are resources in the Student Wellness Center to help students with money management. OSU has 7 on-campus fitness facilities that offer activities ranging from indoor climbing to strength and cardio training classes. In addition, students can take part in activities offered through the Outdoor Adventure Center. When it comes to nutrition, the Dining Services website has an entire section dedicated to wellbeing. It includes tips on eating healthy, being food safe, and avoiding the freshman 15. For students who are sick and can’t go down to a dining hall, there is a sick meal service. Simply complete a form and sending it with a friend to one of the dining facilities, and you will have a meal brought to you. Want to learn more about safer sex? You can join the Condom Club—a free service with all the sexual health resources and information you’ll ever need. For mental health, the Psychological Services Center has five different cognitive-health related clinics, while the Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service offers assistance with such issues as anxiety, stress management, life transition, nutrition, relationship problems, identity exploration, and more.

If you’re interested in learning more about health and wellness, are looking for some coaching or counseling, or want to learn more about the above colleges by talking to students or alumni, you’ll want to join
KonversaiScreen-Shot-2017-07-18-at-12.22.04-PM-192x300 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student WellnessKonversai is a global-knowledge platform for connecting with anyone, anywhere, about anything. Founded on the belief that everyone has valuable knowledge, skills, and experiences to share, Konversai is a platform for facilitating meaningful connections and conversations and getting the personalized knowledge that you seek. Those providing knowledge are encouraged to charge for their time. Screen-Shot-2017-07-18-at-12.22.46-PM-205x300 12 Colleges Leading the Way in Student WellnessIf you don’t need the money, you can always donate it to a charity of your choice or hold sessions for free. All users are encouraged to be both providers and seekers of knowledge on any and as many topics as they wish, be it college, meditation, outdoor sports, South American wines, backpacking in Australia, or playing guitar. By joining Konversai, not only do you gain intellectual, personal, and financial satisfaction, you are also taking the first step towards improving your life and the lives of others. Don’t wait another second. Get on Konversai today!


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  4. Smith, Stephanie. 20 Best Colleges for Fitness Fanatics. Active.
  5. The Active Times. 50 Fittest Colleges in America in 2015.
  6. Top Counseling Schools. 30 Universities that are Leading the Way with Wellness Centers for Students.
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