The college search process is easily one of the scarier things you will do in your life. From college essays to the SATs and ACTs to your top choices and scholarships, the college application process is immensely tough. It’s normal to be confused, have a lot of questions, and not be sure where to find the answers. For those college applicants who are dealing with a medical condition, however, the already-terrifying process becomes that much harder.
Medical problems, no matter the severity, are something that need to be taken into consideration when it comes to the college search process. Medical conditions can pose a completely different set of problems than those college applicants without a medical condition. My medical condition, Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), requires me to have monthly doctor appointments, a nearby pharmacy to fill my prescriptions, and a whole lot of patience on my part. When I first started looking at colleges, I realized that my T1D would need to be a serious consideration in the process. Medical problems need to be incorporated into the search because you never know what problems could arise in the midst of your college life. It is important to consider all of the factors when it comes to a medical condition and the college search process.
Where do I get started?
You need to do research. This is pretty straightforward, considering research is the number one thing you do while applying to colleges. Keep in mind though that researching how good the cafeteria food is at a particular school is very different than reading up on the school’s health service center or nearby doctors offices’ and hospitals. It is as simple as reaching out to the college’s admissions office or doing a quick Google keyword search.
What kind of research should I do?
So, you know you need to do research, but what kind of research should you do? What questions should you ask? Of course, the research would need to be tailored to your specific medical condition. I had a list of very specific questions when it came to my Type 1 Diabetes, and you will too, depending upon your medical condition. Here is a list to get you started:
- How close is the nearest doctors office for my specific condition?
- How close is the nearest hospital/urgent care center?
- Is there a local pharmacy nearby to fill prescriptions?
- Is there a health center on campus? Where is it?
- How is the counseling center? How long do appointments typically take?
- Are there other students on campus that have my condition?
- If my problem is dietary, will the dining hall accommodate my needs?
It’s important to remember that your medical condition will dictate the specific research you do. Sitting down and writing down a list of things to consider when it comes to your medical condition can help you evaluate your options.
What else should I consider?
When it comes to your personal medical condition, you should think about what causes the biggest problems for you. When you think of the bigger problems, you can better plan for possible solutions. For me personally, my Type 1 Diabetes might cause me to be late for class when my blood sugars run low and I’m too dizzy to walk. When I was applying to schools, I wanted to attend a smaller school so I could easily get across campus. The smaller school aspect also appealed to me because that way I could easily build a relationship with my professors and ensure that they knew of my T1D. It helps to be realistic and acknowledge some of the physical or mental disabilities that could potentially challenge you when it comes to your medical condition. If you have a medical condition that could, at some point, inhibit you from walking a longer distance, you may want to consider going to a school that has a smaller campus. Don’t forget that mental illnesses are also medical conditions and should also be considered. The more you plan for when it comes to your medical condition, the easier it will be to decide which schools to apply to.
Medical conditions don’t have to hold you back, but they need to be considered in the midst of the college search process. College is a big change of life, but that doesn’t mean it has to be scary. Talking to your doctor, or someone else you has your medical condition will take the weight right off your shoulders. The most important thing is to remember that you are not the only one dealing with some kind of medical condition. I was convinced that I was going to be one of few Diabetics at my college and it turns out that there was another girl with T1D living right in my hallway freshmen year and another one on the floor below me. Don’t ever think that you are the only one, because chances are, you are far from it. Don’t be afraid to talk about your medical condition, either. Communication is a big part of college and growing up, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Having a medical condition and the college application process will be daunting, but once it is done, you will find that it wasn’t quite so scary after all.