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Tips for College Bound High School Students with Diagnosed Learning Problems

By: Shawn Kuba

The transition to college is a difficult and exciting time for all students; however, it can be especially challenging if you have a diagnosed learning or attention problem. You will need to be prepared to handle many situations on your own and you'll face choices you have never made before. Your success rests on your ability to make decisions in your own best interest. Here's a list of recommendations that may help ease your transition to the college setting:

  • Take a college class prior to full-time registration for the purpose of understanding post-secondary level expectations, building confidence and determining the kind of resources and accommodations you require for success.
  • Find your own reasons for attending college; if you have specific career goals in mind, you'll find your classes more meaningful. Take advantage of high school internship and job shadowing programs to explore vocational interests and possibilities.
  • Know yourself; talk to trusted adults and friends about the values and ideas you consider important. Think about the kind of person you aspire to be and specific personal qualities you admire. These thoughts and aspirations may help to anchor you as you build a support network away from the familiarity and support of your family and friends at home.
  • Understand your strengths and vulnerabilities. Be prepared to seek help; academic expectations in college are more rigorous than those in high school. Request that your transition team prepare a list of reasonable accommodations in relation to your disability, bring the list with you to college and pursue these accommodations.
  • Ask your high school teachers to set up academic projects that are long term and require you to independently structure your learning. Experience and patient coaching can teach you how to pace yourself. You will be acquiring the skills and self knowledge needed to break down long term, independently structured tasks into manageable chunks. You'll need to know how to do this to be successful in college.
  • If you are taking medicine, be sure that you understand how it affects you. Be sure that you are aware of the difference in your functioning as a result of taking this medication. If you are not certain, talk to your doctor, parents and teachers about the value of continuing with medication in college. The demands of the college environment may alter the balance you achieved in high school. Before you leave for college, arrange a time to discuss any problems concerning proper dose, schedule and side effects with your doctor at home.
  • Once you're at college, understand and accept the reality that you have different educational needs than your friends without learning and/or attention problems. Be prepared to follow a well structured study plan involving the use of time, resources and accommodations that fit your needs. True friends will understand. College students with learning and/or attention problems do not fail because of low intelligence. They fail because they don't structure themselves, use appropriate resources or seek proper help and accommodations.
  • View general studies requirements as an opportunity for growth and exploration. As you learn about different disciplines you are becoming a more interesting and well-rounded person. You may even change your thinking about yourself, the world in which you live, and your place in it as a result of this wide exposure to knowledge in varied areas of study.

A number of factors will influence your success as a student with a diagnosed learning or attention problem in the college setting; however, your chances of earning a degree are enhanced if you can remember that you have been accepted by the college because you have achieved the requirements and standards for admission. The college administration believes that you have the potential to graduate from its institution. Don't doubt your ability. Focus on your strengths, be flexible about changing your study habits when needed, and stay mindful of your life-long goals! Good luck.

West Virginia Wesleyan College is a leader in responding to the post-secondary educational needs of students with learning disabilities. For more information about its program for college students who have learning and attention problems, contact Shawn Kuba, Director, Student Academic Support Services, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buckhannon, West Virginia 26201 or call (304)473-8560.

Shawn Kuba The Learning Center West Virginia Wesleyan College Buckhannon, West Virginia 26201