Suggested blog themes and approaches for students

For every blog post by a student contributor that we publish on BetterU, the student receives a $25 Amazon gift card.

How to submit your blog post: Send your submission as a Word doc attachment to blog@studenthealth101.com

These guidelines are designed to help students contribute to BetterU. Please read them carefully.

 

Interview with an expert

Example: How to talk about marijuana so students will listen

  • A good option for those looking for a somewhat structured way in to the blog. Run your idea past us before you invest time in the interview.
  • Interview a campus staffer/faculty member or someone else who brings expertise or creativity to an issue facing school health educators or other relevant staff (e.g., sexual violence educators, counselors, campus doctors, researcher). Think about what a school administrator would want to ask that expert.
    • How have they approached [whatever issue] and what have they found to be effective and/or ineffective?
    • What are the pitfalls to avoid?
    • What constraints are administrators working with?
  • A Q-&-A format is the safest and often the most accessible; it leans on the expert’s own voice, and can be easily scanned by readers. Edit lightly and judiciously for fluent sentence structure, spacing, etc. Run your edited version past the expert before submitting it to us. Include the expert’s email address and phone number in your submission (these won’t be published).

Report on a specific health education or school wellness initiative

  • If you’re in a relevant degree program, you may observe or participate in a health education or wellness effort at a high school or college. This effort should reflect new research/expert thinking or best practices.
  • Briefly explain the problem that is being addressed, the goal, and the approach, and any evaluation data if you have it. Include relevant expert and/or student quotes.

Your take on a student wellness or productivity issue

  • If you were an administrator or educator at a high school or college (pick one or the other), what change would you make in your school? How could that change help students? Or what policy have you observed/experienced, and how has it helped students (or not)?
  • Include a personal touch to keep the tone engaging and fresh; e.g., show your personality and/or include a brief anecdote from your own experience that illustrates the issue (brief is the word; avoid getting into the weeds)
  • Suggest a realistic strategy or some way of working towards a more supportive system

For example;

  • How school messaging around sexual assault could include transgender students
  • A new way that students could support the school’s health and wellness outreach
  • How the sign-up system for required classes could be made less stressful
  • A service, support, accommodation, policy, or circumstance made a big difference to you in school, and it may not be on school administrators’ radar. Be mindful of how to draw on your own experience in a way that is useful to the audience. We cannot publish stories that are essentially “I had an eating disorder” or “I had a breakdown in college.” E.g.;
    • The school had helpful resources but it took you two years to find them; how could that delay have been avoided?
    • The school’s fitness campaign spoke to you in a way no previous health messaging ever had; what was so effective, and why?
    • You needed accommodations for a disability but were worried about stigma and professors seeing you as a burden; how could schools help students move forward?

Note: we cannot publish stories that are critical of identifiable schools, staff members, or faculty. This might mean you have to be vague about some details.

Review of a book, movie, or product aimed at students

  • Review a product that may catch the eye of school administrators; e.g.,
    • A guidebook to freshman life
    • A documentary about community college
    • A movie featuring sexual assault on campus
    • An app that organizes assignments or manages alcohol consumption
  • Keep it brief and lively. See our e-magazine app review guidelines (you don’t have to stick to this format, but it may help you structure your blog review)
  • Incorporate other students’ voices and opinions as relevant, if you want to.

Commentary on a current wellness or campus issue

  • A student’s perspective on a current topic or issue relevant to them; this may be health-related, productivity-related, or (for the brave) political in its broader sense: e.g.,
    • Students in Texas tested positive for the Zika virus
    • A new initiative to get vending machines out of high schools
    • New behavioral research on procrastination and what it means for students
    • The controversies over cultural appropriation or public school funding (IF you have something new to say or a fresh way to say it)
  • Focus on one core point that you want to convey, and a specific suggestion that you think could help. Avoid trying to do too much in one post.
  • Pick your position carefully. Although as a blogger you’re not representing SH101, we can’t publish content that’s not consistent with medical or scientific evidence, or that diverges wildly from SH101 positions (unless that divergence is thoughtfully addressed). For example, we would not publish a post that overstates the treatment value of alternative remedies. To learn more about the relevant evidence, search for your topic on Science-Based Medicine.
  • Avoid claiming expertise (unless you have relevant professional qualifications); state the problem, and be thoughtful and specific (but not dogmatic) about how to address it. Your argument will be stronger if you acknowledge the perspective of school administrators and the restrictions they may be facing.
  • Incorporate expert or student voices, as relevant, if you want to.

How students are responding to SH101 content

Example: Teaching students to become effective bystanders

  • A good option for students who want to contribute and are not sure what to write about.
  • Overview of students’ responses to a specific feature article in a recent issue of SH101. This type of blog post is entirely sourced from our student review survey (this is NOT the same student survey that our writers use when developing articles). Brief training provided on accessing survey content and formatting blog post.
  • Write a brief intro re. the purpose and potential value of the specific feature article (editors may have input here).
  • Include brief survey data; i.e., what proportion of respondents read this article and said they learned something from it.
  • Include a sample of interesting comments from students about why the piece was helpful (from our survey), organized by theme; use quotes representing diverse range of students (e.g., US undergraduates, US nontraditional students, Canadian students)