As you may know, my eldest son, Michael, is heading off to university in the fall of 2014. The transition from high school to university is daunting for any parent, let alone a parent whose child has multiple food allergies.
Michael is allergic to dairy, egg, beef, lamb, fish, shellfish, sesame, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberry.
I have put together some tips for parents and students with food allergies in Grade 11/12 contemplating a university degree to share. I hope you find them helpful.
My Top Tips
1) If your high school offers a ‘University Night’…I highly recommend attending when the allergenic student is in Grade 11 and then again in Grade 12.
In Grade 11, Michael was unsure about which university he was interested in…attending the ‘University Night’ a year in advance gave him some insight into what each university offered and the potential average needed to be accepted. Attending the year ahead, relieved some of the stress and pressure for both myself and Michael…it also gave Michael something to work towards.
Attending ‘University Night’ in Grade 11, prepared Michael for Grade 12. It gave him the opportunity to select his Grade 12 courses required for the university faculty of his choice. It prepared him for what ‘University Night’ had to offer, he knew the universities he wanted information packages from and which 3 universities he was interested in listening to their university representatives brief lecture and question period.
Allergic Living Magazine compares the food allergy and celiac practices of 16 Canadian Universities. I found the chart very helpful. I was totally impressed that so many Canadian Universities recognized food allergy and celiac disease. It eased some of the anxiety I was feeling regarding the practices and policies of Canadian Universities in terms of food allergies.
Click here for the ‘U.S Colleges Comparison Chart’ of 25 Colleges.
3) Definitely book a Campus Tour at each university the allergenic student is interested in attending.
It’s even better if you invite a friend along who is also interested in applying to that particular university. Michael was uninterested in campus tours until I discovered a friend of his wanted to go. Michael seemed to discuss university more openly when his friend was present than just with myself…well, that was my experience.
I just sat back, listened and learned.
The look on Michael’s face when he walked on to his first university campus was priceless. It was a real ‘eye-opener’.
I think it is safe to say, Michael was pleased he took in a few campus tours…he was super impressed with all that the universities had to offer.
4) If you know of someone who has recently graduated from the particular university the allergenic student is interested in attending, invite them over to discuss their experiences and recommendations.
My niece graduated last year from a university Michael and his friend were thinking to apply…I invited her over the night before the ‘big tour’. She was able to relay her experiences living in a suite-style residence, her take on ‘student life’ and the importance of engaging in some type of extra-curricular activity at the university. She got them ‘pumped’ for university, as well as, the tour.
5) Some universities offer a ‘Preview Day’ /‘Open House’/’Campus Day’.
I highly recommend attending a Preview Day and /or Open House for at least one of your booked tours…ours was extremely informative.
6) Be sure to ask your tour guide about the universities specific food allergy policies. It certainly helped to give both Michael and I a better idea of which universities would be a good fit for Michael and all his food allergies. Interesting to note which university tour guides were prepared for such questions, which universities had someone available to discuss specifics…basically, a university with a plan.
The strength of a university also depends on their ability to meet the needs of the allergenic student’s food allergies. Check out each university’s food allergy policies on their websites.
7) Acceptance to some Canadian Universities may be based on the student’s Grade 11 average and their Grade 12 mid-term marks.
Michael received 2 conditional offers from 2 Canadian Universities during his final first semester exams.
Michael has some big decisions to make in the next few months.
I really think visiting the university campuses he applied to, learning about the faculty he is interested in taking at each of them and enquiring about their food allergy policies will better enable Michael to choose which university will be the best ‘fit’.
Once all Michael’s conditional offers from the 3 Canadian Universities he has applied to have arrived…he will make his decision.