Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Don’t brush off sickness

Anuja Manjrekar

The stereotype of the perpetually sick college kid is ingrained in university culture, allowing ill students to justify attending class regardless of their physical state or ability to infect others. As summer approaches and students are recovering from the winter months, it can be easy to fall into the same trap next year – jeopardizing health in pursuit of academic success.  

Although students might be tempted to attend classes while unwell, it’s also important to listen to your body while being cognizant of your academic needs. Doing so may lead to a faster recovery and a better balance between physical health and academic success. 

Computer science sophomore Angela Walters fell sick with the flu this February. While she attended class the first few days after contracting her illness, after feeling faint, Walters decided to accommodate her immediate concerns. 

“(Eventually) I realized I need to stop worrying about school, and I need to start worrying about actually feeling better and making sure I was drinking enough water, getting more sleep and taking vitamins,” Walters said. “Even though (staying home) wasn’t super fun because I was sick, it was like a nice break from all the busyness of school.”

Walters, like many students, wait for their symptoms to become unbearable to consider their health, which should not be the case. Contrary to what college culture suggests, not recuperating adequately may actually be more damaging to your body and academic performance. Moreover, transmitting the disease to peers is a legitimate risk worth considering. 

Dr. Kevin Hackshaw, Chief of Rheumatology and Associate Chair of Research at Dell Medical School, believes students must find time to visit UHS when unwell and rest sufficiently, as it could permit them to return to their normal schedules quicker without sacrificing grades. 

“Pushing through some symptoms and seeking to attend class when your body is telling you something else could exacerbate some underlying illness,” Dr. Hackshaw said. “I would suggest for students to take advantage of the University Health Services. (UHS) is in a good position to assess what’s going on and they can determine is (this illness) something that needs medicine or is staying at home a warranted approach for this particular set of ills that the student is experiencing at this time?”

Utilizing UHS’ services is a great first step, but students must also remember to take measures like contacting professors about their situation and filling out the proper emergency forms, which can help lessen the consequences faced by students for missing class. 

Though these extra steps seem tedious, Walters acknowledged that balancing wellness and university life is necessary to academic growth.  

“If you’re going when you’re still sick, it’s because you care about your school and the class grades,” Walters said. “But, in the end, if you’re unable to do things because you didn’t let your body recover, take care of yourself first or there will be worse consequences in the future.” 

Putting this principle into practice may be difficult due to many professors’ strict attendance policies, which often incentivize students to attend class despite feeling unwell. Regardless, while professors are not necessarily obliged to provide dead days, students should take advantage of them when sick since the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

While sickness is an inconvenience to all students, it’s easy to push aside physical well-being in favor of accomplishing academic objectives. Although students’ primary goal in coming to UT is educational, seeking assistance and staying home can help you recover faster from an illness while securing future success. Despite what college culture dictates, we must listen to our bodies and shape our needs accordingly.  

Anwar is a neuroscience freshman from Murphy, Texas. 

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