When I was a teenager graduating high school with uncontrolled epilepsy college frightened me. Was going to college possible for me? Could I have a full college experience? Was living on campus even an option for me?
I discovered that college was possible with my uncontrolled epilepsy, but my fear caused me to make some mistakes and I now have some serious regrets. Below I will share with you what you need to know so you can have the college experience every student who pursues higher education deserves.
Tip 1: Let Passion Steer Your College Major
When I was a teen I was so petrified of what might happen with a seizure in a future workplace that I let the fear dictate what kind of degree I pursued. This was a huge mistake on my part as it’s now a degree I never use.
Instead of asking myself what I was passionate about or even taking classes geared towards figuring out my passion I instead asked what work place would be best to have a seizure in? I came up with a doctor’s office. So I pursued and acquired a medical administration degree.
The problem…I hate secretary work. Some people might enjoy the paperwork, answering the phones, and talking to the patients, but to me it was boring. I hated all my classes and so when I finished my degree I never really pursued a job in that field. I went out on a few interviews but I am positive my lack of enthusiasm was obvious.
If I had slowed down, told my fear to shut up I might have begun pursuing a counseling degree much sooner. Unfortunately, I let that fear rule and I am still trying to obtain my degree that I actually want. It would have been a lot easier without 4 kids, but we live and learn and if you do make this mistake just know that you can always go back to school.
Tip 2: Go For the Full College Experience
Once again I let my fear influence my college decisions. I was convinced that because I still had seizures that I couldn’t possibly live on campus. I thought I would have to live with my parents and that it wasn’t possible to live independently. How I wish I had asked more questions.
Choosing not to live on campus at a big university is one of the biggest regrets of my life. Instead, I attended a dinky community college that fit on a street corner that I could walk to from my parent’s house. Most of the students were twice my age so there wasn’t much of a chance to meet those once in a lifetime friends you are supposed to meet in college.
I urge you to avoid this mistake. If possible really go for it. This will be a good way to learn how to live independently with your epilepsy. College is the perfect place to try and figure this out. You have support built into college and you can still choose a university near you if that makes you more comfortable. Don’t choose a university just because you can walk to it. Learning the bus system or even having a budget for uber isn’t a bad thing.
Tip 3: Educate Teachers and Your College Friends
To make sure you have a great experience at college you’ll want to make sure your teachers are informed about your epilepsy and know what to do. It helps to have a few of your friends to know what to do as well. When I was in college while I did tell staff at the college about my epilepsy I didn’t go out of my way to educate them.
For tips about college life as an epileptic check out this video!
I learned how big a mistake this was one day in one of my evening classes. I was doing my work when suddenly I was waking up in a hospital bed a day or two later. Apparently not only did I have one tonic-clonic seizure but I had a few. If one of my classmates hadn’t been a paramedic working on a career change I might have been in huge trouble!
By all means try and have the best experience possible, but still, take the time to educate others so you can stay safe. The educating may be a bit awkward but it will be worth it in the end.
In Conclusion, living with epilepsy and going to college is completely doable. If you would like some help with educating your teachers or friends about what to do if you have seizure check out my free printable brochure! Just drop your email and it’s yours! If you would like help on educating people on what your seizures look like check out my post about some of the more common seizures here.