“Did you skip a grade?” “Are you some sort of whiz-kid?” “Wow. You’re so young, how are you in college?” I’ve heard them all before. 

But no, I did not skip a grade. No, I don’t consider myself to be a whiz-kid. And yes, I know I’m young, stop questioning it. I’m a college student, deal with it. 

I started school in California, where the cutoff birthdays for what class year you’re put into are in December instead of September. So, I was able to slide by with my November birthday and start kindergarten as a four-year-old. 

In elementary and middle school, I never found it weird to be almost a year apart in age from my classmates. I could handle the schoolwork, I could make friends, and I hated middle school gym class like everyone else. I didn’t see myself as missing out on opportunities, yet. 

Age wasn’t a problem until the end of high school, when all my friends turned 17, and then 18. At 17 they could all get into R-rated movies — I could only get into PG-13 ones. I wasn’t daring enough to try to sneak in. At 18 they could vote, apply for good internships and part-time jobs — I was stuck in limbo waiting to enter the adult world. 

I started UR still in this limbo period. I knew the limitations, but I was happy when my parents had to sign over my medical rights to me the summer before I arrived on campus. Finally, I could walk into a clinic, sign myself in, present my own insurance card, and have an appointment, all without my parents. It was an exciting time of independence, and I was ready for it. 

I made an appointment at the UHS counseling center at the beginning of the fall semester. I have stress that can build up quickly — like a lot of college students — and wanted someone to talk to. When I went to the appointment, they informed me they’d have to call my parents and get their permission before I could see a psychiatrist. 

Why did my parents have to sign over my medical rights to begin with, then? It seemed pointless for UR to set up a precedent that I’d have medical privacy, when I really didn’t. 

Thankfully, my parents had no problem with me seeing a psychiatrist, but I sympathized with students who weren’t as lucky. Going to counseling can be a very private thing, something one may not want to share with their parents. The same thing goes for regular medical appointments at UHS. I mean, how awkward would it be if I went in to get birth control and they had to call my dad for approval?

Very.

Eventually, my dad got so fed up with the school calling to get his permission that he left a voicemail saying that I could do whatever I wanted, since I was in college and would be turning 18 in a couple months. 

Aside from my inability to make appointments at UHS, I also couldn’t attend the group flu shot sessions. In the advertisements for flu shot sessions, if you noticed the asterisk and read the small print at the bottom, you’d see it left out anyone under 18. 

I just didn’t understand all of this. If I was old enough to be in college and live on my own, then why couldn’t I make the decision to get a flu shot? Though I turned 18 at the start of November, I felt bad for the other minors on campus who have to deal with the privacy deprivation and complete undermining of their decision-making capabilities. There should be a more progressive standard at universities, valuing the privacy and rights of minors. We matter, too, and should have the same opportunity for medical convenience and confidentiality as every other college student.

Tagged: flu shot UHS


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