Chronic illness and going to college

I read an article here about how college students with chronic illness face an uphill battle while trying to get their education. Many colleges are equipped to assist students with physical disabilities, but not students with chronic illness whose disabilities are invisible.

This reminded me of my college experience where thankfully I was completely healthy. I attended Texas A&M which I loved, but it is not a friendly campus for chronic illness. The grounds are huge and even though I was physically fit I wore myself out running from one class to another, many of which were more than a mile apart. There was a bus system but quite often the buses were too full and I would be forced to sprint to my classes to get there on time. I can’t imagine navigating the campus with a chronic illness, just thinking about all the running I used to do makes me tired. There is no way I could do it now with the condition my body is in.

Another problem for students with chronic illnesses is strict attendance policies and professors who could care less. My major classes had a strict three strikes and you’re out attendance policy. You could miss a class three times a semester and that was it unless there was a death in the immediate family. I also had more than one professor who would not accept assignments late, ever. Even if someone close to you died it was too bad. This policy was very irritating to me at the time, but looking at it through the lens of chronic illness it’s just unbelievable. An estimated 7% of young people deal with chronic illness, are they to be denied an education because colleges refuse to offer flexibility? I’m lucky enough that I was able to graduate before I got sick, but others have not been so fortunate. Colleges need to develop ways to offer services to their chronically ill students just as they offer services to those who are physically disabled. Professors need to find a way to be more flexible and understanding so students who become ill aren’t forced to withdraw. Colleges and students with chronic illness should work on developing policy so that students don’t have to depend on individual’s good will.

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4 thoughts on “Chronic illness and going to college

  1. Thanks for providing an insight into college and chronic illness.I blog about having lupus and studying medicine,so I found this post really intresting.
    My school does not accept any late assignments, but incases of illness or death you can resit in summer. If you are late for any other reason,then you get kicked off the course,

  2. This post is a definite eye-opener. With the current trends in the higher education system going for an even more inclusive environment, it seems one aspect may be lagging behind. I hope others may be able to read your insights here, especially those in authority. I totally agree with you on the development of new policies concerning students with chronic illness. Nobody should be left behind. Stay hopeful!

    John @ Studemont Group

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