Tips for Getting Through College with HS!
Last updated: December 2022
Anyone who has attended college while having HS has been there – a midterm is coming up and amidst all of the stress of getting your work done, you feel a flare coming on. You try everything you can to mitigate the damage, but nothing can stop it from coming. You find yourself stuck, deciding between taking a rest or working through the pain.
Going to school while having a chronic illness is always going to pose its own unique sets of challenges, but I learned that there are certain steps that can be taken to help manage it. Here is a list of some of my favorite tips to getting through college with HS:
Do as much work as possible ahead of time
For me, the best part of starting a new semester was getting my syllabi for all of my classes. I am a big fan of using planners, and so after a professor would post a syllabus online, I would make sure to immediately calendar all the important dates. Although I would do this prior to being diagnosed with HS, I realized just how handy this tool was in helping to manage work, school, and flares.
At the start of each semester, I would set personal deadlines for each major exam or assignment, always giving myself extra time to complete them in case of an unexpected flare. That way, even if I needed to go to a sudden doctor’s appointment or needed more time to rest because of a flare, I would be able to do so without completely endangering my grade. My personal deadline would usually be set to three or four days before the assignment’s actual deadline.
Come to class prepared with the essentials
Leaking from flares happens when you least expect it, and so I always like to be prepared. If a flare is starting, I make sure to put cream and gauze pads on the area before I go to class so that I do not have to leave in the middle of a class to clean up a sudden leak.
I would also always make sure to restock my school bag on a weekly basis with all of the supplies that I could need while attending a full day of classes. For me, that would include creams, gauze pads, athletic tape to secure the gauze pads, bandaids, Advil, and a small heating pad. Restocking weekly helped me make sure that I never ran out of anything and it eased a lot of the anxiety that I felt around having a flare and going to class.
If you can, get accommodations
Getting accommodations for HS can be a difficult and expensive process. At most schools, this process usually involves meeting with your school’s Student Disability Services to discuss which accommodations you need and to have them review the documentation regarding your condition provided by your doctor. Not everyone has such easy access to their doctors, thus making the process of getting accommodations prohibitive for many students.
Accommodations made a big difference for me, and so if you are in a position to do so, I suggest meeting with your doctor to discuss getting the process started with them! Some accommodations that could help students with HS include flexible class attendance policies and alternative testing dates.
If you feel comfortable, talk to your professors
As a part of implementing my accommodations, I had to personally speak to my professors about them. I found doing so to be the MOST uncomfortable part of the process. In order to make speaking to my professors easier for myself, I would write out mini scripts with the information that I felt comfortable sharing about HS and the types of accommodations I was going to be using in their class.
Speaking to my professors became easier with practice, but the important part to remember is that you do not owe anyone information about your health and your body – that includes your professors! I found that being upfront with professors about HS made my academic life easier, but that is a personal decision that everyone should make for themselves.
Schedule time for your body to rest
I found this to be the hardest part – acknowledging that you need a break is hard. I recommend scheduling little self care activities in your planner so that you make sure you actually stick with them. Trust me, your body will thank you. You’ll feel so refreshed and will be more prepared to take on the rest of the semester!
When you need to vent about HS, who do you turn to first?