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You're In! Now what?

Congratulations! You’re in! You’ve been accepted to college! The past few years of hard work, studying, essay writing, admission tours, and applications have paid off! Speaking for all of us in higher education, we cannot wait to meet you!


As you celebrate and the reality of your next step begins to sink in, we want to encourage you to begin thinking about your transition to college, specifically about what supports you might need the first day, week, and month of the semester. We believe knowing what resources are available to you earlier on will empower you to take ownership of any challenges that arise when they arrive.


As disability specialists, our first piece of advice is to begin connecting with your college’s disability office as soon as you commit to the school. This can be complicated, because as we shared in our book, we all have different names and sometimes different structures at our unique schools. Begin with a search on the college’s website, try words like: “accessibility”, “disability” “academic resources” and “student disability support”. Usually these should get you to a page of information about how to access accommodations and set up an initial appointment.


For your initial appointment you will be asked to submit diagnostic documentation of your disability. What the college needs varies from school to school. If their website does not have specific information, please call, or email, and ask. Especially if it might take awhile to get your provider or high school to share the information.


Your first meeting with a disability specialist will largely focus on your accommodation needs while at college. While you’re welcome to bring in family members, your disability services professional will direct all their questions to you. You are now in charge of your accommodations. We will review your diagnostic information, ask you to share your educational journey, and note any concerns you might have about starting college. We encourage you to share openly, as listening to your journey and concerns will help us tailor accommodations to your needs.


One of the best parts of our jobs is connecting students to the many resources we have at our disposal on our campuses. Often these connections are not necessarily based on a disability-related need, but on a first-year college student’s experience. Transitioning to a new school, in a new location, away from home and your support system is tough. We understand that, as do our colleagues. This is why we work so hard to make it easier for all students.


Once we have gotten to know you a bit, we will think through all the resources on campus and make suggestions of who to connect with. We may refer you to your residential advisor to workout a roommate agreement around sleep and study hours, guests, or even safe foods to have in the room if you have allergies. We might refer you to your advisor to guide you in picking classes that are lighter on reading loads or meet later in the day if that is helpful to your disability. We will show you the plethora of student groups to help you connect with your peers. We can highlight the workshops, groups, and one-on-one support within the counseling and health centers. We can connect you with tutors, academic success coaches, and presentation guides to ensure that you have a handle on your coursework and time management. We may refer you to the campus nutritionist to walk you through our dining halls and suggest healthy choices when recovering from a cold. We will introduce you to the librarians who can assist you with finding texts in electronic format. The list goes on and on. The point is that your disability service professional will serve as the point person for you when you need assistance.


After your initial meeting with us, take some time to digest all that your new college offers. It is a lot. And it will be overwhelming. It is for everyone, disability or not. Use the summer to begin preparing for the transition. Identify what works for you in terms of study habits. Note what foods give you energy. Find a system that ensures you’ll get up on time for classes. Dabble in different calendar systems to figure out what works. And if available review your documentation. Be reminded of your strengths! You have many, you’re going to college! Note your relative weaknesses and be ready to explain how you think they may impact on your college experience. Think through what might be helpful to you as you transition.


Finally, set up a check-in appointment with the disability specialist you initially met with in September. Use this as a chance to discuss how things are going, what you need support in, and brag about where you’re doing amazingly well. We are here to support you throughout your collegiate journey. Truly, we cannot wait to meet you.

 

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