My name is Jenn and I’m about to start my undergraduate studies at Wellesley College in the fall (anyone else in the Boston area in college, hit me up!) On top of that, I am fencing (Division 3) for their team. I was wondering if anyone had some tips for diabetics entering college and more specifically (if applicable) the sports and college intersection? These are very vague questions so to be more specific:
- My parents are extremely nervous because I won’t be home and they obviously have no control over if I were to have any problems. I’ve already talked to my roommate about it and she’s on top of it, but do you have any advice to help soothe my parents?
- I told all of my high school teachers that I was a diabetic in case I had an issue in class or had to check my blood sugar so they wouldn’t think I was being disrespectful - is that worth discussing with professors in college?
- I’m used to the ins and outs of blood sugar and fencing competitions, but not so much the distances we have to travel for meets now - any advice there?
- Is there anything you deem essential for a college diabetic to have on their person and/or in the dorm room?
Thank you for all of your help :))
@jenn-lee16 hi Jenn,
I don’t think there’s anything you can do to help your parents in this phase of their development… they will just have to trust you.
my recollection of college is that it was much more “real-life” than high school, if I needed to get up to take a phone call or take care of something personal, I quietly got up and took care of it without being disruptive. no permissions needed and no one will challenge you. you’ll see and figure it out pretty quickly.
Professors will likely only lecture in large auditoriums and so you’ll also need to get to know the teaching assistants (TA’s) (grad students) because they will be leading most of the smaller groups. my experience was that even in small groups, no one says anything if you have to get up to take care of something. I guess it would be a good idea to understand what happens at examination time, for example if anyone would say anything to you testing or taking carbs during an exam. if it’s a problem, you’ll have to get your own “accommodations” so that you have advance permission to test and eat something if necessary. - in college, a 504 plan exists but it’s a little different than what you had in high school.
set up your dorm room the same way you set up your house - all your supplies and stuff should be there that you have at home… it’s very much like your first small apartment. I found a “dorm fridge” helpful.
good luck in college, I am sure you’ll be fine. you seem to be 50x more prepared than I was. =)
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply! I’ll give the school a call about it :))
My daughter play travel volleyball (club ball) and trains very intensively. We have found the use of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) to be a game changer!! She loves it! No time needed for checking her glucose - she just glances at her phone) - and I have 7/24 access to view her glucose values on my phone via the blue tooth app… That might help your parents- even if they really don’t need it.
I just graduated college a few years back and can help with everything except the college athlete part
My parents were extremely nervous too. I did not have a cgm when I went to college but if that’s a possibility I would recommend it. I have the Dexcom now and it alerts my cell when I’m about to crash with a low or have a super high high. I believe you can also sync it to your parents phone too so they can have insight if you have a severe low or high (not 100% sure on that but I’m pretty sure it’s an option)
- I always was super honest with my professors because I felt more comfortable with them knowing. It didn’t happen often but I did have a couple of instances where my pump wasn’t working properly so I was feeling pretty gross on class days and was able to email my professors just letting them know what was going on and was allowed to make up work. Plus I always think it’s a good idea to have someone in all classes know or at bare minimum wear an ID bracelet so if you were to have a severe low or anything someone could seek appropriate medical attention.
From a roommate perspective it sounds like you have a good one. I always kept a glucagon pen in my room and just told my roommate what it was for and what to do if needed. I also was honest just because I needed more fridge space to store insulin, juice, etc.
I hope this advice helps and let me know if you need any other tips about college and diabetes!
Also, always carry snacks in your back pack. I can’t tell you how many times having a box of granola bars saved me from a low when I was busy studying for exams and delayed meal times
Thank you sososo much for your advice! I definitely will reach out if I think of any other questions :)) @Tee25
I’m a senior in college and I know some of the feelings you may be having. First, check out The College Diabetes Network’s (CDN) website: https://collegediabetesnetwork.org/. They have tons of tips and tricks for managing diabetes while in college. I know when I found out about CDN, my college life was changed! Also, see if there is a CDN chapter at your campus that you’ll be attending!
Now for your questions:
- I was really independent with my diabetes from an early age, so it wasn’t too hard for me to move away from my parent’s help. BUT, here is a link to the Off to College booklets that CDN has made: https://collegediabetesnetwork.org/content/college-materials-and-events. They have a booklet for students and one for parents, that will help you and your parents make the transition.
- It is DEFINITELY worth discussing with your professors. I did the same thing in high school, where I would discuss it with my teachers just in case something happened or I needed to miss class. Just plan to have that same conversation with your professors. However, try to stop by your professors’ offices during their office hours because they usually have a TON of students and sadly probably won’t remember chatting with you before or after class especially in the first few days of class. Lastly, consider signing up for academic accommodations. I have found those so helpful. Here’s more info on accommodations: https://collegediabetesnetwork.org/content/Accommodations. Two of my accommodations are that I’ll be allowed to have food during class/exams, and that I’ll be allowed extra time on exams in case I get a low or high blood sugar and can’t concentrate. It’s been so helpful and it helps me make sure I can pass my exams!
- Ok, this one is short, check out these two links for traveling with diabetes: https://collegediabetesnetwork.org/content/travel-and-study-abroad
- JUICE. Always have juice. Try and always carry juice boxes in your backpack. Also, try to keep juice and snacks in your dorm always, and when you start running low on supplies stock up as soon as you can. Time can get away from you quickly in college, so try to go shopping for supplies as soon as you think about it. Also, I found it really helpful to find the nearest vending machine or snack shop on campus to the buildings I would have my classes. Luckily my campus had a vending machine literally in every building, but I still had to find what floor it was on. Maybe if/when you do a class walk through before classes actually start, that would be a good time to search for vending machines/snack shops.
Ok, I know that was a TON of info, but I’m here to help with any other questions you have! College got much easier once I got plugged in with The College Diabetes Network. I hope all of this helps! And feel free to message me for more tips. You’ve got this!
Thank you so soso incredibly much for all of this! Reading the links now! Good luck with senior year and thanks again for taking the time to reply! @flebeccaann
You’re welcome! Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m happy to help!