Heading off to college can be both exciting and scary. Having type 1 diabetes (T1D) adds another level of concern for both students and parents. We’ve compiled a list of practical tips to help you succeed in college with type 1 diabetes!
Before You Go to College:
- Download our Quick Start Guide to Living Independently with T1D.
- Talk to your parents about setting up Medical Power of Attorney and HIPAA Right of Access Document so that they can stay informed and make health care decisions for you in case of emergency.
- Talk with your endocrinologist for advice on carb counting in the dining hall, managing stress, and how to stay safe when drinking alcohol.
- Bring a 3-month supply of low blood sugar supplies. They will go quicker than you think!
- Bring plenty of insulin, pump, CGM, and testing supplies. Also, bring back-up supplies in case of a pump or meter failure.
- Find a local pharmacy and/or arrange for mail-order prescription refills.
- Create a sick-day kit. Include ketone test strips, glucagon, a prescription for treating nausea/vomiting, Tylenol or aspirin, sugar-free cough and cold medicines, saltines, Gatorade, etc.
- Contact the Office of Disability Services. They will be your best resource for ensuring you have the accommodations you need for a successful college career.
- Make an organized folder of all information regarding your diabetes management. In an emergency, a roommate, RA, or even paramedic can use this information to help treat you correctly and call for help if necessary. The folder should include:
- Emergency contact information (parent/guardian, doctor, caregiver)
- Pharmacy telephone number and prescription information
- Information about treating high and low blood sugar. (Download our printable handouts on high blood sugar and low blood sugar.)
- Information on how to use glucagon. You can even tape your glucagon to the folder for quick access! And be sure to keep your glucagon in an easy-to-find location.
When You Get to College:
- Choose the bottom bunk. This will make it easier for you to treat highs or lows at night.
- Keep low blood sugar supplies right next to your bed (with a flashlight) so you can treat nighttime lows without disturbing your roommate.
- Keep your supplies organized so that they are easy to get to and you’ll be able to find what you need quickly.
- Let the people around you know you have T1D. Roommates, dormmates, resident advisors, and professors should know that you have T1D and how to help you if you have low or high blood sugar.
- Let roommates and dormmates know that your juice boxes and low blood sugar snacks are off-limits to them.
- Always carry low blood sugar supplies with you. You can’t count on finding a vending machine in every building.
- Wear a medical ID. If there is ever an emergency, paramedics will immediately know they are dealing with a person with T1D.
- Learn about your college’s mental health services. College is stressful and it’s not unusual for students to experience anxiety and depression when they are on their own for the first time. T1D increases that risk and knowing where to go for help before you need it makes it much easier to get help.
- Communicate with your worried parents. They will be adjusting, too! (Parents, download our guide Help Your Teen Transition from Dependence to Independence.)
- Connect with the JDRF Chapter near your college or university.
You can find more great advice and resources from some of our T1D community partners:
- The Diabetes Link– Provides young adults with T1D the peer connections they value, and expert resources they need, to successfully manage the challenging transition from life at home to independence at college.
- Beyond Type 1– Resources for preparing for college with type 1 diabetes, including:
Being prepared will ensure you have a fun and exciting experience in college. We wish you success and happiness on campus and beyond!