Heading to campus with T1D - what to do before you go

Rebecca Gillen, CDN Virtual Intern

After a long summer break, it can be hard to get back into the swing of classes and extracurricular activities. Add diabetes into the mix of starting up college life again and things can get crazy! Check out these helpful tips to help you start your school year off right:

  1. Stock up on Supplies

In the midst of packing up your clothes and school supplies, remember to pack up diabetes supplies too! Make sure you have plenty of supplies to get you started in the school year. If you can, try to order another set of supplies so your supplies will last through the start of the semester. I try to always do this because I know the semester will get really busy for me and it can be stressful to think about diabetes supplies during such a busy time. If you are able to get stocked up on supplies ahead of time, then you’ll have more time to focus on classes and activities.

  1. Talk to Your Professors

It is so helpful to talk to your professors about your diabetes. At the beginning of the semester, set up a time to stop by their office during office hours or set up appointments with your professors to meet them in person. This is a good time to talk about your diabetes and how it may affect your attendance and class participation. Meeting with my professors has always been so helpful for me because I know I can leave class to treat a low or miss class because of ketones, and I know my professor will help me stay caught up in class. Also, putting a name to the face really helps professors remember who you are.

  1. Talk to Your Roommates

Talking to your roommates is one of the best things you can do to start the year off right. Consider sitting down with them over coffee and explaining your diabetes and what to do in case of an emergency. Also, make sure they know where your stash of low snacks is in case you need them to grab a snack for you. Lastly, it’s a good idea to let them know what to do in case of an emergency. If you are close to your roommate and they feel comfortable administering glucagon, awesome! But, if they aren’t too sure about it, let them know your emergency contacts and when to call 911.

  1. Set up Accommodations

If you are comfortable setting up accommodations for your classes, try to do so before the semester starts. Accommodations have been so helpful for me during my time in college. Some of the accommodations I have include being able to access my medical equipment during class and exams (CGM, pump, BG meter), being allowed to have food and drink during class and exams, and lastly, having the option to have more time on exams in case I get a bad low or high blood sugar during an exam and need some time to fully recover. If you already have accommodations set up, then great! You may need to make sure your accommodations office writes new letters for your new classes. If you are needing to get accommodations set up, check in with your accommodations office and set up an appointment to get the process going! Accommodations are really easy to set up and they can be lifesavers for your grade in the class!

  1. Know where Snacks are Located

Even though I’m a senior in college, I still do a walk through of my classes before the first day of the semester starts. I make sure I know where my classes are being held, but more importantly, I find the nearest vending machines to each of my classes! Luckily my campus has at least one vending machine in every building on campus, so snacks for low blood sugars are always close. While vending machines are everywhere on my campus, that may not be the case for your campus. So, make sure you can either find the nearest vending machine, or know where the nearest snack shop is located, in case you need to go buy a snack to treat a low.

  1. Stock up on Low Supplies

One of the most important things I learned while in college is that I always need to have juice in my fridge. It always seems that when I run out of juice, I’ll get low, no doubt about it! So, make sure your room and backpack are stocked up on juice boxes, candy, and snacks. Also, a good rule of thumb when you start to get low on snacks is to go shopping as soon as possible, so you never run out of supplies to treat a low blood sugar.

The beginning of the school year can be a crazy time. There is a lot of excitement and stress as new classes and activities kick off. Just remember to give yourself time to get adjusted to a new schedule. Your blood sugars may be difficult to manage during the first few weeks, but remember that once you get into a routine, you will most likely experience some easier blood sugar management. Good luck with your fall semester!


Rebecca Gillen is a Social Media and Outreach intern for CDN. She lives with T1D and is active in her diabetes community through various organizations. She is passionate about raising awareness for T1D and fighting for a cure.

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