You worked so hard, and finally it’s here. Those long awaited acceptance letters have been ripped open and you have sent your Letter of Intent to the school of your choice. You can finally call yourself a college student! Are you ready?
For the first few months, you pride yourself on your school’s name, wearing every piece of clothing you own from your school’s bookstore. You friend, your future roommate on Facebook and your college experience finally begins. But what happens when dorming becomes a regular routine, when your fresh new college gear fades, and when it finally hits you that you are going to be eating cafeteria food for the next nine months of your life? What happens when you realize how much books really cost and how upset the registrar staff gets when you don’t get both signatures on that add/drop form?
Although it is hard for many people to see past college application season, there is life after those acceptance letters. For us students with learning disabilities, that reality hits a bit harder. The government no longer binds our school to providing us with IEP services and the worry of how academically successful we will be hangs heavy over our heads from the start. For us, we are not only entering the collegiate world, but a world many people would not expect us to be a part of. I will be the first one to admit how hard college is; the whole “endless tests and papers” notion is true. Although many people would think that my learning disability would hinder me from doing in well in college, what it has really done is work in my favor.
Having a learning disability forced me to determine which learning styles work best for me. I went into college knowing that my best bet for fully understanding material is to pair up learning methods. I know which study methods suit me best and which make learning more difficult. I have found that one of the most common struggles students have when transitioning into college academics is discovering how they learn best. Many associate college success with the length of time they study, but how much of that time is actually spent learning in the way that fits best for them? For some it unfortunately takes failing a couple of tests to fully realize that conforming to other people’s study methods may not be the best way for them to grasp material.
Having a learning disability also forces you to step out of your comfort zone. You have to be the one to let the teacher know what works for you in the classroom and what you need extra help on. If you do not communicate the areas you need extra assistance in, you risk never being helped. The self-advocacy attitude I acquired from having a learning disability has defiantly worked to my benefit in college. It has provided a gateway for me to get to know my professors and work with them on how I can best succeed in their classes. It has also shown me how my voice counts and has held me accountable for my learning.
Most importantly, my learning disability has empowered me. It has been the root of my motivation and has helped me with self-acceptance. I am who I am, but my attitude can greatly affect the person that I become. I am determined to prove not just to others, but to myself that learning differently does not limit one’s success. For all of you students out there who have learning disabilities, know that the sky is the limit. Embrace who you are and know that the services being provided for you are proof that you are a good investment.