The handle pulls and DFMOs of NSO, Homecoming and Halloween are inevitably followed by sickness—especially if you aren't prepared. So take this list to heart and protect your precious immune system from it.

Common Cold

It seems that every year, everyone has come down with runny noses and sore throats by this point in the semester. To worsen the problem, weekends of all day and all night partying can lead to dehydration and lack of rest, preventing your body from recovering. 

How to avoid: Swap out shots of vodka for cans of beer to avoid accidentally swapping germs. After shaking hands with hundreds of new people you won’t remember the name of anyways, investing in a bottle of hand sanitizer is essential. If you already start to feel under the weather, spend the night in. Your body and first semester GPA will thank you.


Unfortunately for us, Philadelphia is in the top 25 most difficult places to live if you have allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. On top of that, it doesn’t help that the older dorms are dusty and dingy enough to actually have housed Ben Franklin himself.

How to avoid: Suck it up and buy a Swiffer from CVS. Not only will it clean up dust and dirt, but your room won’t be confused for a haunted house come Halloween season. Still have eyes redder than someone leaving the Biopond at 2 a.m.? There are over–the–counter allergy medicines that will clear that right up.


Living in a dorm is all about bonding. However, this shouldn’t have to include you and your hall–mates spending quality time in the communal bathroom for 24 hours straight. Unfortunately, the closer the quarters, the more likely this is to happen. Maybe this is why everyone who lived in Hill says their hall is still so tight. 

How to avoid: In this case, practicing good hygiene might not be enough to prevent the inevitable. Penn offers free flu shots at Houston Hall in October, saving you the time of googling where the hell Student Health Services is for another year.


"Mono" earns a spot because everyone knows at least one person that got mono Freshman year (Ed. note: And at least two people on Street exec got it senior year). The disease lasts for weeks and even months, robbing you of many freshman year memories (and potential hookups). Nothing kills the mood like telling someone you are infected with something that is nicknamed the “kissing disease.” 

How to avoid: Since it can spread from saliva, sharing cups and utensils can cause mono as well. Think of it as just another reason not to share a slice of chocolate cake in the dining hall.


Half of women will get a UTI at some point in their lives, and some guys will too. Even though it’s the first time you can go wild in the bedroom without fear of your parents walking in, rougher sex might make you more likely to catch a UTI. If you do catch one, just be thankful that the burning feeling when you pee isn’t from something worse. 

How to avoid: It's unproven whether cranberry juice truly can cure your UTI, but there’s no harm in using it as a mixer. What has been proven to prevent it? Peeing after sex, so excuse yourself to use the bathroom post–intercourse. Choosing whether or not to come back and share an extra– long twin bed for the night is up to you.

Stomach Ulcers

Considering that the top three causes of stomach ulcers are drinking, smoking and stressing, it’s no surprise that this one makes the list. Common symptoms include heartburn, bloating and a burning feeling in your stomach. Getting adjusted to college life is hard, so don’t make it harder by stressing over your pre–reqs. 

How to avoid: Everything in moderation, my friend, and that includes binge drinking.


Not to be confused with the sorority that you’ll probably pronounce incorrectly for the rest of the semester, STDs are a serious issue on college campuses. Stats have shown that one in four college students have an STD, which shows the dire need for frequent testing. Honestly, there is nothing sexier than hearing, “I’m clean,” before tearing off each other’s clothes. 

How to avoid: Even though condoms don’t always prevent against STDs, take advantage of the free ones your RA is required to give out. When you see how expensive condoms are, you’ll miss the days that you could get them for free down the hall or at one of these places.

All–Day Hangovers

Between Tequila Tuesdays, Wine Wednesdays and Thirsty Thursdays, there seems to always be a reason to drink on a weekday. Your freshman tolerance has yet to adjust to this level of alcohol consumption. This means debilitating hangovers that can even prevent you from attending classes. 

How to avoid: Hydrate, duh. But for really severe cases drink PediaLite (an over–the– counter medicine designed to ameliorate the dehydrating effects of diarrhea in babies) in the morning (Ed. note: Make PediaLite pops the night before, you'll thank us later). Also, don’t waste your excused absences on a hangover. That is just weak, and you’ll probably need them later for one of the real diseases on this list.


No longer reserved for athletes, concussions happen to regular college students as well. Unlike a football player who has a cool game–winning touchdown story for his concussion, you’ll have to explain you were too drunk to remember how it happened.

How to avoid: Don’t do anything stupid and especially don’t do anything stupid under the influence. Elevated surfaces are great fun, but remember: The higher you climb, the harder you fall.

Bruises you can’t explain

We’ve all been there. You wake up after a night out with only mysterious bruises to hint at what happened. It might be a blessing that you don’t remember how you got them until you read about yourself on The Roundup.

How to avoid: If the 24,000 overachievers that go to Penn still haven’t figured this out, no one is going to.


All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.