Feeling Sick? What To Do If You Catch A Cold This Semester

It’s happened to everyone: you’re feeling great, no problem, but then you have the first sneeze.

That sneeze turns into a week-long congestion fest that leaves you feeling miserable, longing for the naptime of your kindergarten days.

Unfortunately for college students, there’s not much time for rest between classes, studying, and work.

While it may feel as though you have the power to push through it with super-human endurance, remember this one thing:

You’re human.

Having the cold or flu is never something to take lightly. This is especially true when you’re a student with a busy and stressful schedule. There are a few things you can do to make the duration of your cold a bit more bearable.

  • Make sure you get enough sleep at night.

According to a study at Stanford University, we students need at least 8 hours of sleep a night. This is especially true if your body’s working overtime to fight an illness.

  • Listen to your body.

Don’t push yourself.

If you can’t make it to the door of your bedroom without feeling dizzy, chances are that you probably shouldn’t go out.

Yes, you have responsibilities as a student, but your health comes first. Take care of yourself now so that cold doesn’t turn into something much more serious and dangerous.

If you’re sick for more than a few days and it’s not showing signs of improvement, it’s time to get some help.

If you haven’t done so already, call your parents (if you’re far from home, or just go talk to them) to see what they’d recommend.

  • Visit the school nurse.

Chances are your school will have some sort of student health center. These are extremely useful places, especially when you’re sick and far from home.

If you’re not sure how to handle the cough you’ve had for a few days that just won’t go away, pay the nurse or health center a visit. They’re there to help you make it through the school year, so make the most of it!

If nothing else, they’ll be able to give you some cough syrup and even excuse you from classes for the next day or two.

  • If you miss class, email your professors.

If you have no choice but to miss class, emailing your professor is a good idea.

Not only does it let him or her know that you didn’t just ditch, but you can also find out what you missed in today’s lecture.

A word of caution, though: do not send your professor an email like this:

Dear Dr. Smith,

Sorry I wasn’t there today, I’m sick. Did I miss anything important?


Of course you missed something important! It’s insulting to the professor to suggest that there are some days where you don’t learn anything.

Instead, try writing something like this:

Dear Dr. Smith,

I’m sorry I wasn’t able to make it to today’s class. I’ve been sick for a few days now and needed to rest. Were any assignments or handouts given out today?

Thank you,

Steve Jones

The more polite you are, the more your professor will be willing to help you out. Remember, you’re the one asking for help here. Just be respectful.

Also, keep in mind that every professor has a different attendance policy. While some will be willing to excuse an absence for a legitimate reason, others may have a more rigid policy.

If you are only allowed a certain number of absences per semester, make the most of them and save them for when you’re sick.

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Ana Koulouris

Ana Koulouris

Ana Koulouris is a senior at Benedictine University in Illinois pursuing a degree in writing and publishing. When she is not at work in the Office of Admissions or on the university's newspaper, she can be found writing short stories, reading anything and everything, and spending time with family and friends.