High school students aspiring to college
Joined: Jan 28, 2009
Posted Jan 28, 2009 at 9:58:52 AM
Subject: High school students aspiring to college
As a college Learning Specialist, I have witnessed what the research says: students with learning differences are attending college in record numbers, yet they are not succeeding at the same rate as their peers. That is because they arrive on college's doorstep sorely ill-prepared. When I started my job in 1993, fewer students with disabilities were attempting college, and I was able to see students 3x/week, taking them through an entire semester of developmental courses. Those who were motivated came on a regular basis and clearly demonstrated their desire to be successful by following through and returning for their next appointment stronger. By using "hands-on" techniques and "tricks", and breaking concepts down into their simplest parts, I was able to teach students what they couldn't learn in the classroom. I noticed a gradual change in these kids - they were slowly developing confidence. The light dawned, and they realized they could learn!
By 2006, I was deluged with students and could only see them once in two weeks. My tutoring was supplemented with adjunct instructors, so there was no consistency anymore. The sessions were too infrequent to allow me the opportunity to forge a relationship with my students, where they felt that someone at school "had their back". Most of my students fell through the cracks, much to my dismay.
In 2006, when I found my job no longer gratifying, I resigned. I decided there had too be a better way than preparing these students REactively . To this end, I wrote a course for students in grades 9 - 12 to PROactively prepare them for the rigors of college. The course is called CONQUER COLLEGE WITH LD/ADD; it teaches students how to prepare for post-secondary transition now, the differences between high school and college that make college so challenging, how to know if a school is a good fit, and navigational strategies in college that set them up for success from day one .
I have two perspectives on the LD world-- that of professional and parent. I saw my LD/ADD son graduate college successfully, while most of the students where I worked were leaving school believing they were not "college material". That was the impetus to write this course. With the exorbitant cost of college today, I was horrified to see tuition dollars go to waste. If only my students had been properly prepared, the outcome could have been different. For that reason, I consider my course to be an "insurance policy" of sorts for motivated students. Not only does it guard tuition dollars, it protects self-esteem as well, which is too priceless to monetize.
I have received loads of e-mail regarding my course because no one else seems to be teaching it. High schools are too busy squeezing in the academics, and colleges assume students are prepared. I've gotten e-mail from Israel, Australia and Canada - so it seems this is a global problem. I currently teach this course on 10 Saturday mornings, both fall and spring semesters, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Because of the amount of e-mail I have received, I've decided to run the course online in webinar format. Plans are in the works to have it up and running by spring. It's about time students with learning differences got a fair shake at post-secondary success.
Joan M. Azarva, Ms.ED
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