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10 Tips for Managing Type 1 in College

Are you preparing to go to college with type 1 diabetes? We have some great ways for you to be prepared so that college life goes smoothly.

The college experience can be an exciting time, but it can also be stressful learning a new and changing routine. Here we outline 10 top tips for managing diabetes in college.

10 Tips for Starting College with Diabetes

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  1. Register with disability/auxiliary services. Even if you don’t think of your diabetes as a disability, disability services can offer you several helpful tools, such as the ability to register early, make up tests, and have food and drink in the classroom.  
  2. Talk to friends, roommates, and your RA about it. Don’t keep your diabetes a secret. Let those close to you know about your condition and what goes along with it. Especially if you are drinking, have a friend check in with you to make sure you are doing okay. If you decide to drink, stick to one or two drinks and don’t drink on an empty stomach. Also be sure to check your blood sugar before your drink, 2 hours after you start drinking, and then 6 hours after. Drinking alcohol can induce blood sugar lows that are sometimes dangerous.
  3. Talk to your professors. They will be grateful that you let them know so they can be prepared as well. Talking to them beforehand is better than being chastised for your insulin pump beeping or for eating in class.
  4. Seek out or start a club on campus to connect to other students with diabetes. Find your local chapter of the College Diabetes Network.  
  5. Invest in a mini-fridge. Make sure it’s stocked with water, juice, snacks to help battle lows, and anything else you might need.
  6. Don’t be afraid to get up and treat your low. If you are feeling like you have low blood sugar, eat a snack or administer insulin as you need. You won’t be able to perform well on that test if you’re experiencing a low.
  7. Keep snacks on you at all times, and eat whenever you need to, even during class.
  8. Know where vending machines are located, and keep cash or change with you in case you need to use them.
  9. Arrange your schedule to work with your insulin regimen. Choose the class schedule that works best with your insulin and eating routine. If you can’t get the class schedule that you want, adjust your insulin schedule. Set alarms on your phone to remind you to take insulin.
  10. Wear your medical alert tag or bracelet so people know you have diabetes and can help out if you need help.

Be prepared

Being prepared will give you peace of mind and ensure that you don’t have any dangerous health situations. Always consult a doctor or endocrinologist with any changes you make to your insulin and have regular checkups with your endocrinologist, eye doctor, and dentist.

As you embark on your college years, focus on your diabetes management first, so that you can enjoy the learning and fun of your college years. If it helps you, use a logbook to keep track of your blood sugar levels, diabetes management, and eating. A notebook or planner will be helpful for all your assignments and other academic activities. Because schedules are erratic and college is a new lifestyle, take control of your diabetes management now, and be prepared to enjoy college life.