Students’ Number One Tips for College and T1D

August 24, 2018
The Diabetes Link Students

We believe when preparing for college, nothing is as valuable as advice from students who have already been there and experienced it. We’ve compiled this list of current and former students’ number one tips for doing the diabetes thing in college.

  • Don’t forget to pack a backup meter and strips!!!! – Erica Marie Farr, Grand Valley State University ‘17

  • I went to a “going away to college with diabetes” class at my docs office before I left for college. It really helped! College class hours are longer than high school (at least in my case they were). I always had snacks in my bag (pretzels or something like that) and always had Starburst in case i went low. I always kept a box of supplies under my bed and checked them daily. I went away to school only an hour and half away so I didn’t change my pharmacy but if you’re going far change it; it’ll be a lot easier! – Meghan Sheridan, College of Staten Island
  • Keep the glucagon in one, central spot! (I velcroed one to the wall in my kitchen so my roommates all knew where it was if needed). Also definitely let your roomies know ASAP! -Samantha Bowen, University of Pittsburgh grad, pediatric occupational therapist.

  • Teaching your roommate/close friends how to administer glucagon is important, just in case anything were to happen. My CDE also made sure I understood how alcohol affects blood sugar before I left. -Katia Kozachok

  • Create a plan with Accessibility services, buy a Frio, you can get a super cheap backup meter and strips for it at Wal*Mart if you’re low on money (ReliOn brand), Myabetic has the best cases, RoadID can help you with medical bracelets in other languages for study abroad, and if you have a place to stash snacks (like a graduate office desk for graduate assistants) take advantage of that! -Danielle Martin-Jensen, Kent State University ‘18

    “Teaching your roommate/close friends how to administer glucagon is important, just in case anything were to happen.”
  • Don’t be afraid to tell people you’re diabetic and if they don’t like you because of it then they’re not the right person to be friends with. -Lara Levine, Binghamton University ‘18

  • Talk to the cafeteria/dining hall director for nutrition facts in case they’re not posted in plain site.  -Elisabeth Barbara, Penn State Grad, Energy & Utilities Analyst

  • Meet the nurse right away. They can be helpful to give you tips and supplies. Also, let your roommate and some friends know where your glucagon is (and make it easy to access) in case of emergency.  Also knowing that you are eligible for early registration for classes with a note from your doctor has been very helpful. -Alex Martin, Mercyhurst University ‘21

  • DIABETES HAS SO MANY COLLEGE PERKS!!!!! This is definitely diabetes’ way of saying sorry and honestly, apology accepted. Call the accommodations office ASAP and ask what they typically do for diabetes and what the process is. You can really get whatever you need as long as your endo writes a magical “letter of medical necessity”. As a freshman, I was offered a huge single with a bathroom, air conditioning (none of our freshman halls have AC), I got all of my first choice classes at the latest times possible, and I can schedule all of my tests and exams whenever I want and take them alone in case I need to eat or take some ‘slin. -Kate Lucas, Trinity College ‘20

  • Let your roommate know for sure. I ordered an extra glucagon pen and kept it in my backpack. Always carry extra supplies in your backpack in case something happens. -Lizzy Kemmetmueller, University of North Dakota ‘21

  • Be your own advocate! Let people (roommates/significant others/friends/professors) know what you need! Don’t be afraid to let them help you and inform them the best ways to do it. Just because you’re in a new place doesn’t mean you’re alone! Let your professors know and educate them (in case you go low during an exam/class and need to leave) and ALWAYS carry something for your lows, the worst thing is having to leave class and scurrying the building for a vending machine. -Elisabeth Barbara, Penn State Grad, Energy & Utilities Analyst

  • Keep an inventory of how much supplies you have left! That way you know when to order more before they run out. I try to label my boxes of supplies (1/2, 2/2, etc.); that way I know that when I’m opening the last box it’s time to order more supplies before I run out. If you do run out of supplies and shipping the next order may take time, some distributors will send you emergency “samples” of sites or cartridges, whatever you need… if you have friends with type 1 on campus or your doctor is local, they may also be able to share a bit of supplies with you until your next shipment comes in. -Sydney Johnson, Florida Southern College ‘20

    “I have to say that personally telling professors about my diabetes, what to expect if I'm low or high, and how my CGM/pump may alert during class was extremely helpful!”
  • Tell roommates/suitemates and friends how to use glucagon, and who to contact if you’re extremely low. My parents typed up a step by step instruction sheet that I kept in a ziplock bag along with my glucagon next to my bed, that way if the person helping me had forgotten all the steps, they had a simpler instruction sheet that was specific to me. I have to say that personally telling professors about my diabetes, what to expect if I’m low or high, and how my CGM/pump may alert during class was extremely helpful! -Charlotte Allie Burns, William Jewell College ‘18

  • If you haven’t done it yet… NEVER EVER EVER BOLUS FOR DELIVERY FOOD BEFORE THE FOOD HAS ARRIVED. -Danielle Martin-Jensen Kent State University ‘18

  • Ask your doctor for a prescription for anti-nausea medication. Low blood sugar with a stomach bug can be pretty debilitating, especially if you have to wait for an appt with student health. In addition, I would get several copies of notes from your doctor attesting that you have T1D. Some professors will take your word for it, but I’ve had others who refused to be understanding without a doctor’s note. -Hannah Walker

  • Parents, hide an “Oh no I ran out of supplies!” kit somewhere in the dorm room. Two extra complete site changes, an extra meter, extra batteries, extra glucose tabs, syringes, etc. When your son/daughter calls one night in November out of sites, reveal where it is. (It’s gotta be a good spot – i.e. inside an extra zipper of a bag you know they’ll never use or under a jacket you made them bring…). Trust me, (not like I have personal experience…) it will be used. -Hannah Anolik, The College of New Jersey ‘20

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