T1D and college

Hi! I am a college student and need some advice when it comes to being a college student. I am going to nursing school so stress with be crazy high but how do I keep the stress from effecting my blood sugars?

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Hi Kaitlyn! My name is Lofton and I’m also about to start nursing school. I am 30 years old and was diagnosed when I was 18. Actually, it will be exactly 12 years ago tomorrow! 3 months after I was diagnosed I left to go to college 600 miles away from home and received a degree in nutrition. I am also worried about the stress of nursing school on my diabetes as I will continue to work full time and do evenings/weekends class and clinical. My suggestion, and what I’m trying to do, is be as prepared as possible. Start a routine NOW so that when classes start you’ll feel ready in advance. I meal prep during the weekend and have breakfast and lunch made for the week and dinner planned in advance. Having a schedule greatly helps with diabetes and stress. Good luck!

Hey All! Find a JDRF YLC committee near you! It is the Young Leadership Committee and they are in most major US cities. I have been a part of the YLC in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Let me know if I can connect you to one. They are awesome and hold various happy hours and fundraising events. All are welcome of all ages. Type one and friends of type ones. :slight_smile:

Hi Garrett! I’m from central Ohio and not sure of any near me!! Where can I look to find one?

Hi, Kaitlyn,

It’s all about “beating the grizzly bear to the punch.” I did 6 years of graduate school and a year of internship before completing my doctorate, and then went into professional practice, often rounding with treatment teams at 7:30am five days a week. This was all before blood glucose meters and insulin pumps were commonly available.

What I did was rather methodical. At the start of each semester I began to “chart” when hypoglycemic episodes were occurring and, after about five days or so, would ensure I had an adequate snack to eat about thirty minutes before I “expected” a hypoglycemic episode to occur. I always ate the snack!

I also always had a can of soda in my backpack or pocket of my lab coat. Patients thought it was kind of odd, but when I explained I had T1D they dismissed it as “just something I had to do.”

The point is, plan for what is likely to happen (given the demands of the semester), eat a snack before your blood glucose level is expected to drop, and always keep a measured amount of quick-acting carbs with you.

For me, I know my blood glucose level is going to drop around 11:30 am and 3:30pm. So, I always explained to the instructors I had for those time periods that I had T1D, and that I might need to tend to a hypoglycemic episode. Most were very agreeable. Some would even watch the clock and, at those times, would “pause to take a ‘student-doctor Havins’ break.” It actually brought our class closer together. In one class everyone ate a snack at that time of the morning - kinda’ funny.

Today I’d carry my blood glucose meter with me and have two packs of glucose gel in my pocket all of the time while in class or in a clinical setting. I would check my blood glucose level before performing any task with a patient/group/series of patients (nothing worse than having a hypoglycemic episode during an hour-long mental status examination). I would also ensure I never, ever missed a meal (you can’t catch up in a clinical setting). And I would make sure every one of my “lab partners” knew how to tell when I was “going low” (i.e., reduced mentation speed, etc.).

In other words, know your diabetes, anticipate the management challenges of the semester, inform instructors and lab partners, and “beat the grizzly bear to the punch” (i.e., take care of T1D issues before they become a problem for you). I don’t know of any other way to do it.

Now, when you’re not in class or in the clinical environment, do your regular routine. Yes, exam weeks will be tough. But by having done the preparation (above) your instructors will understand if you need to call a time out during an exam (but you won’t have to because you’ll have already taken care of yourself). And when it comes to studying for hours on end, take a break for ten-to-fifteen minutes every hour - get up and move around. Check your blood glucose if you think it’s time, grab a snack if indicated, and then get back to it. Take control! Manage!

Good luck! And “knock it out of the park” this semester!


Hi! I just graduated college a few years back. For me, the best thing I did was find things that also helped me balance stress. I did my best to do a 30 minute-1 hour workout 5 days per week even if it was just a fast paced walk. Always carry some sort of snack with you in your back pack like a granola bar that way if you’re studying too long or find you don’t have time right at meal time to eat, you have something to tide you over and keep your focus going without dropping low which can help take meal time pressure off of you. I also found it incredibly helpful to let my professors know that I have type 1 and in case something were to happen that I urgently needed to take care of for my diabetes they were in the loop and would work with me to reschedule things etc. I also met a couple of other type 1s which helped to vent when I was super stressed! College is still a really great time even with diabetes. Best of luck with school and let me know if you have any questions!

Hi Kaitlyn,

I feel your pain. I’m a senior in college and stress just loves to play games with my blood sugars. Personally, I’ve noticed certain trends in my BG’s when I’m stressed. Have you noticed any trends?

I also found a lot of awesome info about diabetes and college from The College Diabetes Network: https://collegediabetesnetwork.org/

I hope this helps!