Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering College With CF

I am so glad I didn't let my fears about handling my cystic fibrosis prevent me from attending college. Here is my checklist of questions to ask yourself if you are still deciding whether to pursue higher education.

| 4 min read
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Jessica Hughes
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It was my senior year of high school. I went through high school assuming I wouldn't go to college and -- if I did -- I would never go to a four-year university; I would just stay home and attend a local community college. It wasn't that going to a local community college was bad by any means, but my reasoning for going wasn't to receive a trade degree; it was because I didn't think I could go to a university.

I didn't know anyone at the time with CF who had attended a university and graduated. It didn't seem feasible.

Three months before deadlines and fees were due to attend a university in the fall, I decided I would give it a try. My parents and I toured a handful of colleges, and I settled on a university that felt like home. It was about two hours from my parents' house and -- as crazy as it sounds -- going someplace where I wouldn't know anyone seemed exciting for my extroverted self.

After four years, two degrees, two jobs, three internships, several friendships, and meeting my now-husband, I can honestly say attending college was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Sure, there were hard times and struggles, but all of that helped to form who I am today.

So, if you're like I was and you're sitting on the fence trying to decide whether to attend college, ask yourself these questions:
  • What are my dreams in life? Can I achieve these goals without attending college? I had a goal at the time to be a lawyer. Without the proper education, I wouldn't have been able to achieve that goal. The funny thing about college is that after you take a few courses you realize you have completely different goals. My dream was to be a lawyer, which changed to an interest in marketing and communications, which led to adding on a second degree. So honestly ask yourself, if CF was never an issue, would you want to go to college? If so, go to college! Don't be afraid to live life. We spend our entire lives fighting this illness, now is the time to cash in all our coins and go live our lives … responsibly of course.
  • What am I scared of? Fear was a huge bump in the road for me. I was afraid that I wasn't healthy enough. I was afraid of living on my own. I was afraid of not making any friends. Finally, I realized life is too short. This is something us CFers know too well, but it wasn't something I was living out. Life is too short to not chase after my dreams.
  • What resources are available? I never knew until I started touring campuses how many resources are available for those with a chronic illness -- from scholarships to disability services! There were a handful of times where I was sick and had to be hospitalized while in school. I can honestly say that without the assistance of disability services, I probably would still be in college right now, seven years later. When looking at colleges, reach out to disability services and see what assistance programs they have in place. I think you will find this will ease some of your anxiety about going to college.

So do some soul searching and ask yourself hard questions. Determine your dreams and goals, then make a plan on how to accomplish them. We are all in your corner cheering you on! Go live your life to its maximum potential.

Rooting for you,
Jess
Xoxo

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Jessica is a graduate from Western Carolina University with two degrees in business administration law and marketing. She works for her local county government doing environmental marketing work. Jessica loves hiking with her husband, Will, and their dog, Nora, and cooking for her family and friends. She is an active volunteer in her local Great Strides and assists with local fundraising events for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Jessica lives with Will and Nora in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Follow her on Instagram @jessica.hughes._ or email her at jebryson1@gmail.com.

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