Colleges and universities have come a very long way in dealing with students who have learning disabilities. There are all sorts of special services and accommodations that are specifically geared towards students with learning disabilities. Although there are many services available to these students, the real key to being successful as a college student, is learning how to take advantage of these services and understand what works them.
If you are a college student who has learning disabilities, here are some tips that will help you better get through college and get the most out of that college experience.
*Find the Office for Students with Disabilities –
Large universities and colleges will probably have an office for Students with Disabilities. It is extremely important that you go there as soon as you get to college. It would be helpful if you can get some documentation from your doctor to substantiate this.
By going to the office for Students with Disabilities, you create an official record with the school so that they know that you have learning disabilities. You will be able to go through this office should you need special accommodations.
*Talk to your professors –
It’s important to let your professors know that you have some sort of learning disability. Find a time when you can talk to the professor in private and when they won’t be distracted by countless other students. By telling your professors, you provide them with information that will give them a better understanding of you and your needs.
If you start to have trouble, or need more time to do an assignment, the professor will know that you aren’t asking for these allowances because you’ve blown your work off. It might be helpful to get a mini tape recorder so that you can tape your lectures. Before you do that, however, be sure to ask the professor whether they mind if you tape the lectures.
*Don’t over book your schedule –
If you have learning disabilities, it may be that you can’t take on a massive course load and expect to do well. Make sure that you talk to your academic adviser so you can register for a manageable course load. Be careful about overloading yourself with really hard courses or too many courses that require large amounts of reading.
If necessary, take the minimum amount of hours that you can take and still be considered a full time student. If you are getting financial aid, you will need to register for a full time load in order to be able to get all of your assistance.
*Contact your state Department of Vocational Rehabilitation –
In many states, the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Services can help a student with learning disabilities go through college. They can help with finances by either paying some of the tuition, helping pay for books and supplies or even pay for a tutor, if that will help the student do better in the class.
*Find a great place to study –
Most students who have learning disabilities are very easily distracted. It’s important to find a place where you can study without interruptions, disruptions or distractions like radio, television and talking. A study place should be comfortable, well lit and secluded so that the surrounding noises don’t make concentration impossible. Make sure that the place at which you decide to study is easily accessible and that you will be safe there if you study there at night.
*Create a study schedule –
If you are going to need more time to do some of your course work, then it’s your obligation to figure out how to manage your time so that you can get all of your work done. By creating a study schedule, you can’t procrastinate, and you have concrete scheduled time at which to do your reading, studying or work on papers or anything else.
Split your work up into smaller and more manageable increments. That way you know that you have a specific assignment that you have to do at a specific time on a specific day. Rather than trying to read 500 pages in one sitting, sit down for a period of time and read 25 to 50 pages.
*Take short study breaks –
Many students who have learning disabilities will get to the point where they feel like they are on information overload. That’s what happens when you study for too long at one time without a break. You can take a break to go get some coffee, walk around, stretch your legs or just get some fresh air. When you go back to your studying, you’ll feel much more refreshed and better able to focus.
*Don’t be afraid to request a tutor –
One of the services that is often available to students who have learning disabilities is having scheduled time with a private or small group tutor. This service is usually not free, but if you’ve gone through a Vocational Rehabilitation or some other counseling service like that, they may be able to find the funds to pay for a tutor for you.
*Don’t stay in a class you are failing
If you find that you’re in a class that is really difficult for you to handle or the work is so horrifically boring that you can’t stand to do it, make sure you drop the class before the deadline to do so. If you drop the class soon enough, you may be able to recoup some or all of the cost of that class.
*Ask for extensions if necessary –
If you need extra time to write a paper, or turn in an assignment, don’t wait until 5 minutes before the assignment is due to ask the professor for an extension. As soon as you know that you aren’t going to complete your work by the due date, talk to the professor. They will be more willing to give you an extension if you are courteous enough to ask for it well enough in advance.
It is possible for a student who has learning disabilities to do brilliant work while in college. It’s important that you never use your disability as an excuse or use it to try to get out of doing something – unless it’s because you legitimately can’t do it. Notifying the school and going through the proper channels so that there is an official record of the disability will ensure that any accommodations that you need will be provided, so long as it is possible. There’s no better reward for a student who has learning disabilities than to see that for the first time, maybe ever, they are on the Dean’s List for that semester.