College Survival Skills for the Learning-Disabled Student
It is particularly important at this juncture for students to think about what will lead to future success. Does the key lie in academics, athletics, personal traits, or other undefined abilities? The "winning" combination is many times dictated by the environment and will involve multiple areas:
Students should begin to exercise control through making decisions. Naturally, not all these decisions will be good ones and this can be very disconcerting to those who are watching events unfold. Exercising control also means weighing alternatives and selecting options as well as dealing with these outcomes. Initially, students may need guidance.
Just remaining in "limbo" may appear desirable ("cool") but it can be frustrating for all concerned. Students should immediately begin thinking about major areas and future careers. Both short-term and long-term goals can be used for motivation and should be balanced so the student isn't overwhelmed.
Success brings with it lots of conflicting emotions. Students may think that it is easy to "win" but that's not always true. Thinking through goals and deciding on a broad course of action may help. Once students have a purpose, they can go full steam ahead.
Researchers believe that determination to succeed is 3/4ths of a completed job. We definitely find these two traits to be crucial to student success.
All students need a system to organize their academics and their social activities. There is a dramatic increase in the amount of work required as well as an increase in distractions. This is the area that trips up students the most frequently.
Successful adults understand they are more than a label. Their disability is only a small piece of the individual's personality and potential. Increased knowledge leads to greater acceptance and the ability to navigate through both academic and social situations.
Adapted from a presentation by Michelle Moore Brady, counselor and Program Director for the LDA of Lake County, OH.
The learning-disabled student must take charge of the situation as well as ask for help. The following tips will help you take control of your education:
1. Your commitment to college must be deep and genuine. It must be a high priority in your life.
2. Start early to seek career counseling so your choice will be compatible with your strengths and you can plan how to reach long-range goals.
3. Approach professors before classes to ask about what kinds of tests are given, how many papers are required, and the grading criteria. (The class syllabus may help answer these questions.)
4. Take fewer classes each semester and balance easy classes with more difficult ones. Plan for the possibility that you may require more time to finish your education.
5. Use compensatory techniques such as tape recorders, extended time on tests, etc.
6. Learn and use good study skills.
7. Deal with writing problems early since writing demands are heavy. Learn word processing on the computer.
8. Organize your time (Program consultants can help you in this area). Allow lots of extra time for study.
9. Attend classes regularly and meet with your instructors frequently, even if it is just to say hello.
10. Document your actions if there is a problem with classes or instructors.
Adapted from Vincennes University, Indiana, STEP Program for learning disabled students.