How To Succeed as a Spoonie Student

When you live with a chronic illness, you get used to including it in your everyday life. And when you’re a student, it can make your studies a little more difficult.

How To Succeed as a Spoonie Student

1 – Plan ahead: I suggest having a planner and putting in due dates (especially the important ones) as soon as possible. This way, you can know when they’re coming. This is even more helpful if you’re on a treatment that isn’t every day or week. For example, I have my treatments every four months. I know that I will need to reschedule papers or exams if they fall around it, and if you have to sign up for presentations, you can schedule them when you have a higher chance of feeling better.

2 – Work ahead: Leaving things to the last minute might mean that you don’t do an assignment at all if, when you’re down to the last minute, you have a bad pain day or an equivalent. So work when you can, and work ahead.

3 – Talk to your professors at the beginning of the semester: You might want to give them a heads up so that they’re not surprised if something happens. This is obviously a personal preference, especially with how much you want others to know about your health. I personally find that it makes things easier later if I give a short explanation at the beginning of the semester, since I will most likely have to miss at least one class due to pain.

4 – If necessary, get established with the disability office at your school while things are okay: It’s much easier if you are already set with them than

5 – If you have any choice, pick classes that will happen at a time of day that is better for you: For example, I am significantly better earlier in the day. I prefer to take classes earlier than later, and am unable to take night classes. I’m just in too much pain by the end of the day. So, if you are able to, choose classes that work with your body.

6 – Get as much rest as you need: Your body needs more rest than healthy people’s bodies do, so make sure that you’re listening to your body and getting enough rest.

7 – Don’t beat yourself up too much: You’re doing your best, and that’s what matters.

What advice do you have for students with chronic illness?

Like this post? Check out:

How To Succeed in College, Accepting Your Body with Chronic Illness, The Lifestyle Changes I Made for My Rheumatoid Arthritis

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  • Reply Kate

    I can definitely agree with the rest part! I was an overachiever in college and would push myself to keep going, but it’s okay to take a day to rest. I also recommend having a support system on campus–this is important for college students who are living away from home. I had to make several trips to the ER during the course of my college career, and I always knew who I could call that would drop everything and drive me there.

    October 21, 2015 at 11:21 am
  • Reply Jennifer Mulder

    Good tips Kate, planning has always been my #1 trick for studying with chronic illness as well. I’ve shared science-backed tips on how to study smarter, not harder here: The article covers multiple strategies for improving your focus (even with brain fog), productivity and learning style.

    January 4, 2018 at 2:08 pm
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