Style & Shopping

I Kept Getting Sick Freshman Year — Until I Got This Game-Changing Product

published Sep 6, 2023
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Holmes 360 True HEPA Air Purifier on a colored background. Text reads "It's Givinggggg"
Credit: Target

My first year of college was one for the books. I was meeting new people, making friends, attending football games, joining clubs, and embracing the freedom of living on campus, away from home. But I was also getting sick … a lot. 

At first, I thought it was just the “freshman flu” — you know, the blanket term for the plethora of illnesses that come with getting used to a new lifestyle, enduring a lack of sleep, and living in close quarters with hundreds of germy peers. However, when weeks passed and I wasn’t getting any better, I suspected there was something else going on. 

I even went to urgent care due to shortness of breath. The doctor suggested I was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, but I consistently tested negative. Concerned for my health, especially knowing respiratory issues run in my family, I decided to do more research. That’s when I found out how dismal the air quality can be in college dorms. According to mold expert Michael Rubino’s website, there is a long list of colleges with mold problems in their dorms (and, yes, my school is on the list). Further, I learned many dorm rooms lack good ventilation, which results in air stagnation and a buildup of allergens. Ugh.

On the bright side, I also learned that having a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) purifier, which is used to remove airborne pollutants and allergens, could help me breathe easier in my room. (Although it’s important to note that, while these purifiers can help keep you from breathing in mold spores, they don’t actually treat the source of the mold — for that, you should absolutely contact your RA or residence director, as this is a serious health and safety risk.)

So, on a subsequent adventure to Target with my roommate, I decided to purchase a Holmes 360 True HEPA Air Purifier. And what a lifesaver it was. 

Within a few days of using my purifier in my dorm room, I felt like I could actually breathe again, and my shortness of breath slowly went away. I also noticed that going to bed was a lot easier, and I wasn’t waking up randomly in the middle of the night to have a coughing fit. 

There was another benefit of the air purifier that I hadn’t expected: the smell. The whole time I’d been living in the dorm, I never thought it smelled particularly offensive. But it turns out, I was subjecting myself to an olfactory smorgasbord of cleaning supplies, beauty products, and food smells (thanks to our air fryer) — I just didn’t realize how present (or pungent) they were until the air purifier helped minimize them.

After half a semester of suffering without an air purifier, the rest of my freshman year in my dorm room was much more pleasant. Since then, I’ve moved out of the dorms and back into my family’s (much better-ventilated) house. But the dorm-cleansing benefits of my air purifier still live on, as I gifted it to my best friend who lives on campus. And while I can’t give every student an air purifier of their own (nor can I guarantee it will solve every illness or air quality issue in every dorm), I can at least share my experience and advice: If you’re going to live in the dorms, get yourself an air purifier — not just for better air, but also for a little peace of mind, too.

Morgann Rhule


Morgann Rhule is a writer and journalism student at Florida Atlantic University. She loves everything about fashion, music, and culture, which you will hear her talking about on her podcast, Art School Dropout. She also writes about it as a contributor for the student-led fashion publication Strike Magazines Boca. Her best friends describe her as a shopaholic bookworm who gives the best advice. Born in Jamaica, she shows her pride with a beaded red, green, and gold necklace she never takes off.

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SchoolFlorida Atlantic University '25
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