For Parents

Welcome, Rensselaer parents! The Student Health Center is here to serve the primary health care needs of your students so that they can get and remain healthy and stay focused on their academic goals.  To that end, we've assembled some information we hope you may find helpful.

College can be an exciting time for your student, but it can also present many challenges. The transition to college can be associated with a variety of stressors, and as a parent it can be difficult to know when and how to help your student. When issues stray beyond the typical roommate conflicts and academic adjustments, the distinction between interference and active support may be hard to see. We've provided the following information to help you recognize signs of distress in your student and learn how to intervene appropriately.

First of all, it's important to know that the Student Health Center can provide a wide range of counseling and intervention services, including:

  • Individual Counseling -- Students meet one-on-one with a professional counselor for confidential short term therapy.
  • Group Counseling -- The Health Center's Counseling Center may run group sessions, depending on the needs of the students.
  • Crisis Intervention - A counselor is available for times of crisis during normal business hours, after hours we are available on-call through Public Safety (518) 276-6656.
  • Psychiatric/Medication Services - Students can receive psychotropic medications from our psychiatrist or other health service providers.
  • Educational Programs - The Student Health Center offers presentations on topics such as alcohol and other drug use, stress management, and suicide prevention.
  • Case Management - This program offers support via face-to-face meetings, telephone calls, or email.
  • Referral Services -- Students dealing with more complex issues and requiring long-term therapy may be referred to external counseling services in the community.

Recognizing Symptoms of Concern

As a parent, you should encourage your student to seek counseling center services if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • A sudden drop in academic performance
  • Difficulty sleeping or getting out of bed
  • Feeling sad or appearing tearful most days
  • Social isolation
  • Increased lethargy
  • Expressions of hopelessness
  • Direct or indirect statements about death or suicide
  • Avoidance of certain places or situations, or fear of being alone
  • Increased irritability or restlessness
  • Paranoid or incoherent speech
  • Increased drug or alcohol use

Referring your student to the Counseling Center for a counseling appointment is easy. Students can walk in to make an appointment, or call 518-276-6479 for an appointment. In a crisis situation, students will be seen that day.

Encouraging Your Student to Seek Self-Help

  • Reassure your student that any information shared during counseling is confidential and will not be disclosed without written permission.
  • Let them know they can meet with a counselor for one session without making a commitment for ongoing counseling.
  • Help reduce the stigma associated with counseling. Tell your student that college counseling centers are regularly used by many students for a variety of reasons and that seeking help is actually a sign of strength.
  • Suggest that your student check out the Counseling Center web page for more useful information.
  • Keep in mind that your approach and attitude toward help-seeking can have a great deal of influence on whether or not your student will use the available services.

Seeking Help / Crisis Management

If you believe your student is in a life-threatening situation and needs immediate help, call the Counseling Center at (518) 276-6479; after hours, call Rensselaer's Public Safety Office at (518) 276-6611.

Consulting with Counseling Center Staff

Although Counseling Center staff is available to speak with parents in regards to their concerns about their students, please be aware that once a student has been to the Counseling Center, the Student Health Center will need a signed release to provide parents with additional information. Parents who contact the Counseling Center are encouraged to provide as much information as possible about their student so that the Counseling Center staff can be as helpful as possible.

The adjustment needed when a college student returns home for winter break often surprises parents who don’t know what to expect. Accustomed to living on their own and following their own schedules, many students struggle with coming home — even just for the break. By opening the lines of communication and creating clear expectations, you will make your student’s return the enjoyable and rewarding experience that it should be.

Some tips on what can you expect and what you can do

  • Remember that your student will be recovering from the physical and mental strains of finals week, so don’t be alarmed if your student’s top priority is to sleep. Catching up with high school friends may also be at the top of your student’s to-do list. This is a healthy response and can affirm his or her ability to maintain long-distance friendships.
  • Schedule time with your student to make sure that activities that are important to you aren’t lost in the shuffle.
  • Have a conversation with your student about expectations for schedules, housework, and behavior during the month. Decide whether all of the original rules of the house still apply, but also consider some extra flexibility to take into account your student’s newfound independence and autonomy.
  • Discuss first-semester academic performance with your student. Remember that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) stipulates that students maintain formal control over their educational records, including their final semester grades. Parents may not review the records unless their student gives them access to their SIS account. The best way to find out about final grades is to ask your student.
  • Don’t be surprised to hear your student refer to Rensselaer as “home” or discuss viewpoints or values that may be unfamiliar. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, you still are a major influence in their lives and on their decision-making, so continue to reinforce your expectations for healthy behaviors and good choices.
  • Above all, enjoy your time with them!

  • Are flu shots available to students? Yes, the Student Health Center offers free flu shots for students each fall, usually around the end of September and into October. We also hold clinics all over campus and post information about them via print and social media, but we still encourage parents to please remind their students to take advantage of this easy, free flu prevention measure.
  • What should I do if my student requires a specialist? The Student Health Center has compiled a list of specialists and their offices and maps to their respective locations for those who may need to seek specialized health care.
  • Can my student make an appointment with your staff? We encourage students to make appointments with the Student Health Center to minimize wait time and so that they can schedule around any other commitments. Students can make an appointment by calling our office directly or by logging into our health portal.
  • Do you offer health insurance? Rensselaer does offer a student health insurance policy for students who need insurance coverage in this area or while studying abroad or on co-op, but students who do not need the student insurance plan can waive out. This enrollment or waiver is an annual process that must be done by September 15 each year. Please refer to the "Health Insurance" section of our website for more information.
  • Can you write prescriptions for students? We do write prescriptions for students as medically necessary, and those prescriptions will be electronically transmitted to a pharmacy of the student's choice. However, the Health Center does not provide prescriptions for Accutane or for controlled substances such as narcotics, tranquilizers or stimulants, so students requiring prescriptions for these drugs must obtain them at home.
  • Is campus transportation available to medical locations? The campus shuttle will get students to locations within walking distance of many of the local pharmacies, Samaritan Hospital, or doctor's offices within the city of Troy, New York.
  • Do you charge a fee? Rensselaer students do not pay an out-of-pocket co-pay for visits to the Health Center, nor does the Health Center charge your insurance plan for any visits, as Rensselaer's annual, mandatory Student Health Center fee covers this. We do, however, charge for immunizations and durable goods, and these charges are either submitted to the RPI student insurance plan if the student is enrolled in that plan, or billed to the student's Bursar account "ebill." See "Fee Schedule" section of this website for more information.
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