By Nicholas Zappola
Choosing the right college is tough enough—when do you really know it’s the “right” one?—but when you live with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, it’s an even bigger challenge. Some things to think about when choosing a college would be walking distances, handicap assistance (in case crutches or wheelchair needed), the surrounding geography and so on. This will help narrow the choices down to actually quite a few colleges out there.
Those of us who have CMT understand that long walks can sometimes be quite painful. Our gait and balance can be affected by the disease, and walking can cause some uncomfortable feelings and even pain. What can be done about this when looking for the right college? It’s easy–federal law requires most schools to provide students with disability assistance necessary for access to class. For example, one college I visited, High Point University in North Carolina, has a huge campus that would be difficult for me to get around while having CMT. One thing I found out though was students with disabilities have the right to help in accessing class, even if that means a golf cart!
Schools everywhere have some form of assistance for people that are in need of an elevator or a wheelchair ramp to get around from place to place. Although a lot have these things to help, there are certain schools where there could be issues with your crutches or wheelchair. Some schools I visited had sidewalks that were so uneven with cobble stones popping up left and right, making it easy for one to trip even without crutches. That’s a school that I would not recommend going to for your own safety. Colleges should be searched based on geography and surroundings, because if a college is on a hill or very uneven then it shouldn’t be considered as a top school.
Just remember that you may be legally entitled to receive assistance if you need something to help you get around. Choose your school wisely, not just by academics, but choose because of the feel it gives you. Consider your own needs when it comes to your CMT as you pick your college.