On July 31st, JDRF, in partnership with the College Diabetes Network (CDN), aired a Facebook live session all about Transitioning to College Life with Type 1 Diabetes. With plenty to cover for those with type 1 diabetes (T1D) under normal circumstances, the current coronavirus pandemic has added another layer to the list of things college students with T1D need to think about when planning for the fall semester. Leading the session was CDN’s Anna Floreen Sabino, MSW, CDCES, & Program Director, who has been living with T1D herself for the past 30 years. Two currently enrolled college students, Haleigh from American University and Nisha from Kansas City University also joined the session to share their first-hand experiences with T1D at college.
“Whatever your new learning environment is, whether on-campus or virtual, you want to make sure your transition to college is as seamless as possible,” said Sabino.
During the live session, Sabino talked about accommodations that students need to make ahead of starting college because they can differ from what you may have been used to in high school. These include accessibility to a CGM and cellphone during class, ensuring there is a refrigerator in your dorm room for storing insulin, and asking about priority registration for class scheduling and housing. This ensures that students with type 1 diabetes have ample time for breaks between courses so they can monitor their blood sugar and make the time for meals before and after classes. Having all your supplies shipped is also crucial when you are living on-campus so that you are prepared and don’t have the added stress of running out of insulin when you need it. Nisha, a student at Kansas City University, had the opposite problem during the school year due to the unpredictability of the coronavirus pandemic.
“When schools announced that they would be closing dorms because of the coronavirus, I was home for spring break and only packed what I needed for break. All my supplies were back at school, so I had to climb over a couple of obstacles to get my emergency supplies.” Luckily, Nisha was able to work with her provider in order to get her supplies sent to her on time. Navigating coverage can also feel overwhelming. Knowing who to contact and when can all be part of your prep plan. Refer to our insurance guide to help you understand all of your options.
Communication and Support
This is where planning and communication are essential so that students and their families can always feel prepared, even during the unexpected.
“Practice talking about how you’re going to talk about diabetes,” says Sabino.
It’s important to communicate not only with your caregiver, but your roommate, your RA and your local College Diabetes Network Chapter if you’re on campus. Even if there isn’t a CDN Chapter on your campus, students have the option to start their own chapter to get involved and connect with other members of the T1D community.
75% of CDN members say that the College Diabetes Network has helped them feel more empowered to take care of their diabetes on their own. With the coronavirus pandemic changing what the fall semester may look like, Chapters will be starting up virtually until in-person meetings can resume and you can also join one of CDN’s Facebook Groups no matter where you’re located.
Both Nisha and Haleigh, who are over 21, discussed alcohol consumption in college with their type 1 diabetes. Haleigh has always openly discussed alcohol and college with her parents. She makes sure she always travels with a friend when attending parties. Nisha also wants others to understand:
“We’re not different from others. Just be aware of yourself and know that you’re responsible for making your own choices.”
To learn more, watch the full session below.
For more resources about transitioning to college, download CDN’s tip sheet and JDRF’s College Checklist. For more information from JDRF about the coronavirus, visit jdrf.org/coronavirus.