Preparing for College Early
You begin your academic preparations for college while you are in high school. Likewise, it’s important to start early as you prepare to handle your food allergies at college.
Your parents may want to help you evaluate colleges based on their food allergy accommodations. But remember that once you’re away at college, you will be in charge. You're the one who will work with your school directly and make day-to-day decisions based on your food allergies.
You can hone these skills before you graduate high school. It will help smooth your transition to college and path to independence.
Practice communicating your needs to those around you, including friends and faculty.
For example, if you don’t already explain your food allergies when eating out, start doing so. Use a chef card to help communicate your needs to restaurant staff. You can download free chef cards in 11 different languages from FARE.
Consider your daily needs and what accommodations you might require at college. For example, will you need a dorm room with a private microwave or a mini-fridge? Will you be safe living with another student or will you need a private room?
Begin making a list of these requests so it will be complete by the time you start visiting campuses.
The Social Scene
Think about and try new ways to minimize your risk and still be included socially. For example, research restaurants that are food allergy-friendly and suggest them when going out with friends.
If your friends challenge you or ask questions, take this opportunity to advocate for yourself and educate them. Those around you must understand the seriousness of your food allergy and how they can help you stay safe—if they don’t already.
What to Read Next
Before you decide on a college or university, plan to do your research, visit the school and ask questions about food allergy accommodations.
You’ll reap the most benefits from your meetings with disability services, dining services and other departments by writing down your questions in advance. Get started with this list.