For young adults living with diabetes, preparing for college can be a difficult time. Managing diabetes while trying to make sense of a new world, social network and expectations can be especially challenging. You’re not alone! There are many resources in place to help support this transition.
The following are stories shared by College Diabetes Network (CDN) Students, involved in CDN’s Student Advisory Committee (SAC), about their experiences heading off to college, and navigating life on campus, with diabetes.
The College Diabetes Network provides programs for young adults with diabetes to help make their college experience safer and more successful. The American Diabetes Association is working with CDN to help further this goal.
Name and Age: Arianna, 19
School: University of California – San Diego (UCSD), Class of 2017
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the middle of finals week during my sophomore year of college, about a year ago. It was a scary experience. I was mainly preoccupied with what needed to be done to end the quarter with good grades and I started panicking a bit. However, my parents had driven up from Arizona to help me sort everything all out.
I told my roommates about my diagnosis as soon as it happened. They were wondering why I had to stay away in the hospital for four days and were very supportive. And when it came to my professors and others knowing, the Student Disabilities Office handled a lot of the class and exam accommodations. My parents took me to visit the office and I made an appointment with one of the counselors. She gave me paperwork that allowed me to leave during the exams to self-manage my diabetes and then return to the testing room. This took some of the pressure off. I was very happy this service was offered at UCSD in addition to the support from my peers.
It’s been challenging to face new situations while still living the college life. Checking my continuous glucose monitor during exams, giving insulin shots in the middle of class, rummaging around in my backpack for foods to help treat lows (and then proceeding to eat them all within five minutes)—it has been overwhelming.
Although I was diagnosed in college, one thing I wish I knew about diabetes management was learning how to eat on a schedule and not skip meals (especially before exams). I’m extremely busy with classes and exams, but meal planning is just as important and makes a difference in my blood glucose levels.
Our CDN chapter was just founded in September 2015. I loved meeting other students living with type 1 diabetes and working together to make this chapter thrive. As the founder of the chapter, I am looking forward to also serving as chapter leader in the future and hosting and participating in events in and out of college, including diabetes walks.
My advice to incoming students living with diabetes is to not be scared! There are other people on campus working with the same challenges as you. If you can’t find them, look for a CDN chapter at your school. And if there isn’t a chapter yet, start one! It’s important to have a positive relationship with everyone you surround yourself with; a support group also helps! Thanks to the help and support of my family, friends and medical team, I was able to finish that year of college and continue working on my education.
The College Diabetes Network (CDN) is a 501c3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to use the power of peers, access to resources, and grassroots leadership to fill the gaps experienced by young adults with diabetes and make their college experience safer and more successful. CDN’s vision is to empower young adults with diabetes to thrive in all of their personal, healthcare, and scholastic endeavors. CDN has over 80 campuses with 60+ affiliated chapters. Sign-up for more information here.
Diabetes Forecast magazine and the College Diabetes Network recently published a “Thrive Guide for Young Adults” with tips for doing college with diabetes. Visit diabetesforecast.org and diabetes.org for more information.