Going to college is one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking times in your life! It is likely to be the first time you’ve lived away from your parents. You’ll need to find your way around a new town, manage your money and learn to study in a very different way to high school.
If you have seizures, this transition can be particularly tricky. You will be responsible for taking your own medication, telling new people about your epilepsy and adjusting to a new routine.
But don't worry - we've got you covered! Here are 8 tips to prepare for epilepsy and university living.
Epilepsy and university life: 8 tips
For many people with epilepsy, going to college is a wonderful time, filled with new friends and experiences and learning amazing things.
If you have epilepsy and are planning to go to college, the following tips can help you prepare.
1. Use the college health facility
Most universities have excellent health facilities available for students. You can speak to a doctor and get refills for your prescription medication. Make sure you register with the facilities when you first go to college and find out if there is a neurologist on site.
2. Telling people about your epilepsy
Depending on what kind of seizures you have and whether or not they are controlled by medication, you might want to tell people about your condition. This is especially true if you are sharing a room, so your roommate will know what’s happening if you have a seizure. It might also be helpful to inform teaching staff if your seizures mean you will sometimes miss class.
3. Don't forget your medication
When you go to college, you will be responsible for taking your medication and may also need to order and pick-up your prescriptions. Set yourself a reminder on your phone using the Epsy App to help remember your meds.
4. Manage your stress levels
College can be very stressful - especially around exam times. Find ways to monitor and manage your stress - whether that’s through exercise, spending time with friends, getting enough sleep, or doing yoga.
5. Request accommodations
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, college students with epilepsy are entitled to make requests for accommodations from the university. The best colleges for students with epilepsy will already have many of these accommodations in place, but you may need to ask for things like:
- Flexibility about deadlines for written essays
- Recordings of classes if you are unable to attend a lecture due to seizures
- Doing exams in the afternoon if you usually have seizures in the morning
Most colleges have a disabled students service where you can ask for help and information.
Learn more: Guide to discrimination for people with epilepsy
6. Alcohol and partying
The social side of college is very important, and a great way to make friends. Alcohol is often involved at house parties, as well as at bars and nightclubs. Generally speaking, it is okay to consume a small amount of alcohol if you have epilepsy, but for many people it can be a seizure trigger - especially the next morning.
Try to find ways to avoid drinking more alcohol than you are comfortable with. Telling people that you have epilepsy - and that this means you can't drink as much as others - can be helpful.
Keep learning: Epilepsy and alcohol - can you drink safely?
7. Think about your insurance plan
When you go to college you could either stay on your parents’ insurance plan or go with the college’s insurance. Whichever option you choose, make sure that you’re covered for any medical care you might need on campus.
8. Financial support
There are many scholarships and other forms of financial support available for people with epilepsy, as well as for students with disabilities more generally. Read our overview of scholarships for people with epilepsy and get applying!
Epilepsy and university life
Whether it’s making lifelong friends, forming incredible memories or learning new things, college is a great opportunity to grow, experience the world and begin your journey into adult life. And with a little preparation, you can manage your epilepsy while experiencing these things too!