Heading off to college

Amber J Tresca:

The first year of college is an important step in a teenager’s life. It’s the time when they become responsible for their studies and their personal lives without the constant presence of teachers and parents. For students with chronic health problems, the transition is more complicated than simply balancing work, study, and play time. Fortunately colleges and universities now have programs and resources available for the student with chronic health problems. Those starting college now, as well as high school seniors looking to choose a college can use the following ideas to make the move easier.

Fatigue is a very serious issue that can easily result in missed classes if not treated. One way to manage fatigue is to balance courses over the year with the help of a counsellor. For example, some students may be able to handle 18 credits with no problem, but for the student with a chronic illness 12-14 may be more appropriate.

Students can also discuss the study time needed outside of class with an advisor or counsellor. It’s possible that time intensive courses can be spaced over a student’s college career so that no one semester is particularly gruelling. A sticky question is whether or not to discuss a chronic illness with professors, advisors, and other college staff. This will be a very personal choice for every student. An advisor is usually a good choice as a confidant, as they will be most helpful in scheduling courses. Advisors will also get to know the student well as they will be working together for the students entire college career. Professors may also need to know, especially if classes or tests are missed because of illness. It may feel like being back in grade school, but professors often ask for a note from a doctor, so students should have one available. The ultimate goal is to make the college experience rewarding on all levels. Many colleges and universities have programs already in place to help disabled or chronically ill students. Getting in touch with an advisor or other staff member and finding available help is the best way to start a great college career.