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Discussion Starter #1
So I'm at that point in time, just about to graduate high school and move on to college. And, like many young rat owners before me, I now face the issue of trying to get into college, and take my rats with me.

Most of the schools I am applying to are pretty understanding about my need for an animal for emotional stability and give me the; "Of course you can bring a single animal!" Of course I have three rats, which presents two issues- that there are 3 of them and not 1, and that they are rats. For some reason every school so far, even those that allow 4 foot long snakes, consider rats "dangerous and exotic animals" so they are not allowed on campus- no exceptions. Plus all of the schools require freshmen to live on campus, so I am at a loss.

Anyone here who has successfully brought rats with them to college (living on campus), and, if so, how the heck did you do it?
 

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I sat down with the disability coordinator at the college I was applying to and explained to her that rats need other rats to be happy. An unhappy rat doesn't do much to help an unhappy person. I also got it in writing from my therapist.
 

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Worth considering, if your home address is within so many miles the freshman rule doesn't apply. You could get an apartment and pretend to live at home.
 

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It may be easier to let them make an exception to "require freshmen to live on campus". So you could consider that angle as well.
 

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I'm pretty worried about this. I'm only halfway through 11th, but I'm constantly wondering what I'm going to do with 3 dogs, 5 rats, 2 geckos, etc... Let me know how you eventually do it. I think I'm going to have to work from home or something.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I originally wanted to try living off-campus, but since home is 3 hours away (from any of the schools I applied to), it won't work, since I won't be able to afford it, even with a part-time job and roommates.

As far as I can tell, ESA's do not count as pets according to the colleges, so I may be able to swing that bit, but then the issue is getting all three boys registered. Only Styles is able to go into public places, so while I am almost certain he qualifies, especially in that he can tell when I start panicking and takes measures to calm me, but I'm not so sure about the other two, who also help me just as much, but can not go into public (one of them being stranger-aggressive, and the other having weird reactions to chemical smells). According to the website Phantom linked, they have to be able to function well in public around other people...and I'm worried those two just don't fulfill that criteria.

But, for now, I will gladly take everyone's advice- many thanks to all!- and ask my therapist about the letter.

Phantom, many thanks for the link! I've been wanting to register my boys for a while now but couldn't find the info :)

Tesumph, yeah it's tricky when you get to that point where you realize you're going to college soon and need to downsize or figure something else out. I'm already working on rehoming the reptiles! It's hard, but sometimes it's also better if you have young, healthy animals and can find good homes for them. In college there likely isn't time to spend with very many pets, which is why I have to hold off for a while before getting a "permanent" ESA (in the form on a cockatoo). I'll let you know how things work out from here!

I've already contacted one school I applied to about it, and they explained that they will allow any animal registered as an ESA. I'm hoping the main school I want to get into feels the same way, but I won't find out until we go there in a week or two. I do know that if you have social anxiety (like myself), depression, or other such illnesses and animals help, then most colleges, wanting their students to be healthy/content, will make exceptions in regards to housing/etc. Then there are some great colleges with super flexible housing policies...but they mostly don't allow rats due to typical stereotypes.

Thanks to everyone for the awesome advice so far! I'll let you all know when I've made progress! My therapist will likely be more than willing to write the letter, since we've discussed my dependence on animals in great depth. I wonder if it helps that she was able to meet my boys at one point to watch how I interacted with them (and visa versa).
 

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I dont know how to help but Im saying fight for it, I didnt with my cats and ending up flunking 2 semesters, someone should be able to help you, once you are an actual student there some schools are more helpful some schools dont care anymore, you are lucky to have school that would even allow one, around here you can only have fish
 

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As far as the functioning well in public and around people thing goes, that only applies to dogs or other animals that would have to be taken outside for bathroom breaks and exercise. The college will expect the rats to be kept inside your dorm pretty much all of the time. Since they are ESA's and not service animals they will not be allowed in most places on campus (recreation rooms, cafeteria, class rooms, etc..).
 

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I think having the animal managable in public is probably meant as a broad term. For instance, if someone's ESA is tarantula how would it be manageable in public? I think what they mean by managable in public is for others to be able to handle the animal when you can not. What I mean by that is say you are taking a plane from one state to the next and you are taking your ESA animal along with you. The animal is riding in cargo, let's say it's a chameleon. The people who put the cargo on board the plane need to be able to handle your animal safely. I'm pretty sure that's what they mean by managable in public.
 

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Universities may not be as flexible- bureaucracy and all that -but I had an issue like at my old house with my rabbits that I was able to resolve. It was a pet-friendly rental, but when they did their annual inspection they told me I couldn't have rabbits because they are considered "prairie rodents" (??? it drove me crazy- they aren't rodents, and they aren't from the prairie!) I wrote the landlord a letter explaining how they were litter trained, the steps I took to make sure they wouldn't damage the house, yada yada. I also offered to pay an extra pet fee. In the end they let me keep them.
Like I said, the college may not be as accommodating (I have never lived on campus) but if the ESA thing falls through maybe there is someone you can talk to and explain the situation.
 

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You have to live on campus if you're a freshman?

If you have access to a community college, start there instead. Pay a tenth of the tuition and they don't care where you live. When you transfer to a university afterwads you'll have more money and won't be a freshman.
 
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