Accessing Accommodations in University

How to reach out and access accommodations in university and college while living with endometriosis and other chronic conditions

Starting university can be both an exciting and stressful experience for all students. The shift in environment, intensity of workload, and daily routine can be especially challenging for students with a chronic condition, such as endometriosis.

While academic accommodations are readily available to all eligible students, many of those students withhold from applying for accommodations. The hardworking and ‘continuous grind’ culture and pressures to succeed at post-secondary schools can deter students from reaching out for help. Therefore, students must know that resources are available at their academic institutions to help them grow and succeed in the best environment possible.

It is common for students to avoid setting up accommodations for a variety of reasons.

They may feel embarrassed, undeserving of support, or that they can wait a little longer and push themselves a little bit more before they truly need help.

After speaking to peers, I learned that students who lack a strict diagnosis of a chronic illness or mental health condition feel they won’t be given accommodations or are unsure of the cause behind their struggles in school and are, therefore, reluctant to apply. My advice: Don’t wait any longer than you have to!

It might feel hard to reach out, but putting off your physical and mental health will only make things more difficult in the long run.

Graphic explaining that if your life is being impacted by endo, you are within your right to request accomodations

Everyone’s situations are different, and your needs may be unique to your peers.

Student services/accommodations are there to support you and to meet everyone where they are. For myself, I had completed my first year of university and found myself completely drained and exhausted. I had to take a step back and reflect upon why I might have been so tired. I realized that I was continuously pushing myself to work harder and harder – even when my body and mind desperately needed a break.

The bottom line is: if your daily academic life is being negatively impacted by something such as endometriosis, other chronic conditions, or a disability, you are within your right to request accommodations.

Universities and colleges are there to support students, ensure that each student feels heard, respected, and to create the best environment possible for students to succeed. Students who put off organizing accommodations may regret not setting them up sooner. This regret comes from realizing they could have excelled in their courses and enjoyed university in a way where they might have missed out. Post-secondary students must understand that it is more than okay to ask for help; it takes courage to share your struggles with others.

In my own experience, reaching out to the services at my university took a massive weight off of my shoulders. I have constantly pressured myself to succeed and be the best at what I do (like most other students). However, I reached a point in my academics where I needed to acknowledge my stress and anxiety to keep moving forward and protect my mental and physical health.

I began the process of accessing accommodations by printing off the necessary forms I needed to fill in and bringing them to my family physician.

Once signed and completed, I sent them to my university and booked an appointment with an advisor. After speaking with an accommodations advisor, I felt immense relief knowing that some of the pressure could be taken off of me in the upcoming academic year.

I was pretty surprised at the plethora of accommodations available to me that I could choose from for each of my classes. My accommodations are important to me because they will directly combat my anxiety surrounding my endometriosis and mental health and allow me to feel more comfortable in lecture and exam settings.

Universities and colleges are there support students

Thinking about applying for academic accommodations?

Here are some questions to ask yourself, and to help start a conversation with your doctor/advisor:

  • Do you experience brain fog, anxiety, nausea, rapid heart rate, or lightheadedness during exams? 
  • Do you find it easier to work in quieter locations, or in places where you are alone?
  • Are you easily distracted in class, labs, and during exams?
  • Do you find yourself feeling exhausted after exams?
  • Do you have an “Aha!” moment following an exam, where you suddenly recall what the correct answers were? 
  • Do you experience additional physical symptoms such as an upset stomach or fainting leading up to/during/after lectures, labs, or exams? 
  • Does your chronic condition impact your ability to travel to campus, attend classes, labs, etc.?

Some examples of accommodations that post-secondary institutions can offer students are:

  • Extra time on assignments, quizzes, and exams
  • A private/quiet location to write exams, with access to a washroom and breaks throughout
  • Breaks during long lectures/labs
  • Preferred seating in lecture halls
  • The ability to record lectures
Empty university lecture hall

University life is challenging, but it’s also an exciting, brand-new opportunity to explore your interests and skills.

Living with a chronic condition such as endometriosis does not have to define students’ university experiences. Students need to know that resources are available to help them succeed.

Applying for academic accommodations is one of the first steps students with endometriosis can take to improve their experiences in their courses and to help alleviate some of the pressure that can come with being a student. Acknowledging the difficulties I was facing and having a conversation with a trusted advisor removed a weight off of my shoulders that I wasn’t aware I had before. I feel reassured that the next academic year will be much smoother and allow me to have a more positive experience on campus.

Remember: You do not have to suffer alone, and support is always available when needed.

Reaching out to school services took a weight off my shoulders

How to reach out

Below is an example of steps for students to follow to access accommodations and student services, using the University of Alberta, and experience as a student there, as an example.

Steps to take:

  1. Find the accessibility/student services your university or college offers, and visit the affiliated website (see below for a list of some in Canada)
  2. Review your eligibility, and take note of any required documents.
  3. Follow the appropriate procedures listed to acquire accommodations. This may look like:
    1. Printing off the necessary forms.
    2. Bringing them to your family physician or a physician at a walk-in clinic to have them signed.
    3. Sending the signed forms to your university/college.
    4. Booking and attending an appointment with an accommodations advisor.

Via Academic Accommodations | University of Alberta

Links to university and college accommodations and resources in Canada:


British Columbia


New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

Northwest Territories

Nova Scotia



Prince Edward Island




About Freya Blackie (she/her) I’m Freya! I’m currently a student at the University of Alberta. I enjoy and greatly value being an advocate for youth with endometriosis, and uplifting patient voices.