College Survival Tips for Students with Chronic Illnesses

College is an exciting time in a teen’s life. Students gain knowledge and learn skills that help to prepare them for their careers. They are also transitioning into adulthood; figuring out who they are and trying to find their way in the real world.

While college can be hard for anyone to adjust to, it is particularly difficult for those who are living with a chronic illness. Whether it’s diabetes, cystic fibrosis, asthma, or any other chronic condition, an illness can severely impact a college student’s life. It interrupts routines, makes it hard to establish and maintain relationships, impacts on-campus living; in other words, having a chronic illness can have an adverse effect on the entire college experience.

While having a chronic illness can certainly make college more challenging, there are ways that students can prepare themselves so that they can better manage a specific condition and get the most out of their collegiate career.

Visit Campus before Classes Begin

Arrange to have a tour of the campus before classes start. Doing so will give you the chance to get acquainted with the layout of the campus, find out where your classes are located, and learn where important offices – such as the one where medical services are provided – are situated. Plus, becoming familiar with the campus before classes start can make it easier to adjust to your new environment.

Arrange for Disability Accommodations

Most colleges offer accommodations that are customized for students with disabilities or chronic illnesses. Speak to the person who is in charge of accommodations a few months before school is scheduled to begin to find out what types of accommodations your college provides.

Depending on the school you are attending, disability accommodations can include:

  • Special housing; a first floor dorm room or a room that is located near health services
  • Permission to take tests in a different location or at a different time than other students
  • The use of audio books
  • Permission to take video or audio recordings of lectures
  • Permission to miss more class time than is deemed acceptable for “average” students

If you require special accommodations that your school doesn’t provide, ask your doctor to speak to the school and recommend accommodations that would be in your best interest.

Talk to Your Roommate

Meeting the person you are going to be sharing a room with can be nerve wracking for anyone, but it can be even more difficult for someone who has a chronic illness. You will be sharing a space with each other and living in close quarters. Letting your roommate know about your condition can help make the living situation easier for both of you.

Be open and honest with your roommate. Tell him or her about the problem, explain any special care that you require and welcome questions. Talking to the person you are living with right away will help you both get off on the right foot.

Consider a Medical Alert System

When you have a chronic illness, you know how important it is to be prepared and ready to take action if you are ever in a situation where your health is in danger. For example, a medical alert system can be a useful – even life saving – tool for students who suffer from chronic medical conditions. With the simple push of a button, you will be able to get prompt help, should the need arise.

There are a lot of medical alert systems on the market. Read reliable medical alert reviews to find out the features different systems offer so that you can find the best system to meet your specific needs.

Be Proud!

Don’t be ashamed of your illness! It’s part of who you are! You are going to meet a lot of people in college, both on- and off-campus. Don’t cover up your condition; be open about it and use it as a tool to educate people. You’ll be surprised by how many people will want to learn more about your condition and will want to support you. By being proud of your condition, you can crush ugly stigmas that are associated with chronic illnesses and make others more accepting of them.

Caitlin Evans is a bookworm, photographer and dancer. She is also a medical student in love with science. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and Universe, Caitlin is researching and writing about various health related topics. She is happily addicted to art in all its forms, grilled tofu and caffeine.


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