College Planning Tips for Students with Learning Disabilities

Students diagnosed with learning disabilities can have a successful college experience. All it takes is a little foresight, soul searching, and a carefully designed strategy to equip such a person for the challenges of university life. Advanced planning on this front can mean the difference between winning or losing the fight for a college degree. Here are some tips to help students with LD’s level the playing field:

*Know that you are not alone. Approximately 30% of entering freshman now claim to have some type of learning disorder and colleges are responding accordingly. Many schools now acknowledge and make provision for the needs of these scholars. They often offer mentoring, life coaching, or a transition team to help specifically deal with areas of college life that can seem like insurmountable obstacles to people with a learning disorder. Programs exist to help establish a pattern of study habits, teach students how to interact socially with professors and peers, assist with organization and paperwork, set a reasonable academic timetable, and offer valuable counseling.

*Do your homework. Before stepping foot on campus a student with a learning disorder ought to know exactly what support the school has to offer and where to find it. College is intimidating to every entering freshman but especially so to someone who has needs that set them apart. Advanced research into the programs available to students with an LD at your school is vital because it helps you enter into college with a clear picture of your assets. Keep a planner with a specific section to outline this information, taking note of administrative programs as well as names and numbers of tutors, mentors, or support groups that are of use to you.

*To make the plunge less dramatic consider taking one college class the summer before you enroll full time. Pick a subject that you love and know you will do well in. Spend time on campus investigating where everything is and familiarize yourself with the places you will visit most often. This will go a long way to keeping stress levels low that first fall semester.

*Spend some time in quiet contemplation. Set aside a day when you can really be honest with yourself about college aspirations. Make sure college is your dream and not the desire of someone else. Be honest about your own limitations and vulnerabilities. Having a realistic expectation is going to be important to functioning in higher education. If you struggled in high school, don’t expect to coast through college. Write down a list of things that distract you or complicate the learning process and be ready to meet the challenge when these situations crop up because they inevitably will. If you are on medication, know the adverse reactions that occur by way of side effects or as a result of skipping pills. Knowing your weaknesses is the first step to overcoming them.

*Talk often with parents or trusted counselors as you anticipate your new life off at school. Confess any anxiety or apprehension and allow the people who love you to encourage you. Chat about dreams, goals, and all of your expectations. Keep a journal or start a blog. You might earn an Internet following if you can dramatically depict the ins and outs of life as a college student with learning disabilities. People really respect it when someone who is challenged in a specific area dares to defy the odds. You never know who you could inspire with your story.

*Don’t disparage yourself. That little voice that likes to tell you that you aren’t as smart as everyone else….tell it to shut up. If you were admitted to college, chances are you are capable of earning a degree. Don’t let your disability alienate you from everyone else. Don’t ever assume there is something too difficult for you because you carry the label LD. If you want something, go after it. Don’t accept your learning disability as a handicap that keeps you from doing what you want in life.