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5 Things I Wish Somebody Had Told Me About Going to College with Type 1 Diabetes

Photo: Courtesy of Evelyn Riddell

Balancing studies and T1D can seem like a lot to manage, but diabetes can be a secret superpower.

1. Make Your Health Your Priority

Taking care of yourself and your type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is integral to your safety and well-being. It creates a domino effect, allowing you to do and feel your best with school, work, and any other aspect of your life. Managing T1D can take up a lot of time, but trust me, it’s worth it.

2. Advocate for Yourself

There are so many resources available for people with T1D but YOU have to find them. No one knows about your disease unless you tell them. I take my exams at the Accessibility Office, where I’m allowed to have food and take breaks without penalty. I have an exam routine that works best for me and my T1D, but I had to speak up and ask for it.  

3. Educate Your Peers

As helpful as it can be for your professors to know about your T1D, you only see them for a couple hours a week. You’re with fellow students much more often, so it’s likely you’ll have low blood sugar or a T1D-related incident while you’re with them. It’s important they know how to help you or are at least aware of your T1D. Symptoms of low blood sugar can be mistaken for being drunk, and high blood sugar could be mistaken for general fatigue because of school work. It’s important to have someone who can spot the difference.  

4. Find a network to Connect With

Academic resources are extremely important but so is emotional support. Your mental health should be as much a priority as your physical health. Try to find a group of T1D students who know what you’re going through. Look for a College Diabetes Network chapter or any other similar community nearby. I couldn’t find one on my campus, so I connected with some other students who had T1D and we founded our own chapter.

5. Know Your Strength

You’ve had T1D 24/7 since you were diagnosed, without a single break. If you can manage that, you can do just about anything! Start viewing your T1D as your secret superpower. You’ve got an awareness of your body, and a sense of responsibility and maturity that is rare for your age. It’s going to help you get through this season of change.

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