Preparing for College
Find tips for researching colleges and universities and selecting the right school for you.
Ready or Not, Here We Go
For many of us, going to college is an important milestone. This may be the first time you’re on your own—and fully responsible for managing your food allergy.
Moving away from home can be a challenge for teens with food allergies. Suddenly you’re in charge of choosing everything you eat, remembering your medications and telling a whole bunch of new people about your food allergy.
But if you plan ahead, learn about your options and seek support from others, you can stay healthy during your college years. After all, this time of life is about learning, enjoying new experiences, making friends and becoming a true adult.
A growing number of schools are taking steps to ensure that students with food allergies have a safe, successful college experience. While many schools have established policies and programs, keep in mind that these practices vary widely from school to school.
FARE has tips on what to consider while researching colleges and universities, plus how to make your college years rewarding and safe.
Start Preparing Before You Go
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.
The Food Allergy College Experience
Managing food allergies in college is totally doable. By speaking up about your specific needs and working together with your college, your accommodations should be met, so you can safely attend college. Hear from TAG members about their experiences managing college.
Your food allergy story powers research that changes lives.
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