Managing Diabetes at College

Group of teenagers Going off to college — especially if you’ll be living away from home — is a big change. But you still need to manage your diabetes to stay healthy on top of adjusting to other aspects of college life. These eight tips will help.

  1. Have a one-page medical summary on you at all times on paper, on a bracelet or on the emergency button on your cell phone. Download an Emergency Card that will fit into your wallet.
  2. Check in with your college’s Center for Students with Disabilities. Educational institutions are required to provide reasonable accommodations for students with diabetes according to the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. For example, if you have a significant hypoglycemia reaction before or during a scheduled testing time, an accommodation should be made. 
  3. Meet with the staff at your college health service. Know the location and hours it’s open in case you need medical care. 
  4. Take copies of your current medical records to your college’s health facility.
  5. Make sure you understand your health insurance coverage, especially if you are going to college out of state. Some HMO’s only provide emergency out-of-area coverage. That means co-pays and co-insurance could be more expensive. Customer service representatives at the 1-800 number on the back of your card can help you understand any differences in your coverage.
  6. Plan to take enough diabetes medication and supplies to last the entire semester. Take more than you need so you can be ready for anything unexpected.
  7. The food service on campus can assist you in meal planning and can provide carb counts for items on the menu.
  8. Don’t forget to inform your roommate, resident adviser and coach, if you play sports. They should be aware you have diabetes and the symptoms you might experience if your blood sugar is too high or too low. Your roommate should know you will be testing your blood sugar and that you have to give yourself insulin injections. Your roommate should also know how to treat low blood sugar and when to contact emergency medical services on your behalf.

Additional resources for managing diabetes in college