Monday, December 27, 2010
Getting Ready for a New Semester in College
The one piece of advice that I give to the students who are new to college is to sit down with a parent (or another support person) and review the syllabus together. Every professor gives a syllabus the first day of class, and it contains all the rules, regulaltions, and assignments for the semester. One of the most common adjustments that students with a disability need to realize is that if something is in writing, they have been told. These students are very used to parents running interference for them by reminding them what to do and where to go, along with checking their work, verifying their needs, and talking to their teachers. If that kind of enabling is still happening at the college level, these students might not make it. They need to take control of their responsibilities without being reminded by someone else. It's a delicate balance. Reviewing the syllabus together helps with that transition and makes the semester less problematic. At 18, they are considered the legal adult and need to be self-advocating on their own. Parents will call my office with a question and then put their child on the phone. Why didn't that young adult call me directly? It's a baby step, but growing up starts with baby steps. If students are working with the Disabilites Office, they need to keep their advisor informed when they have a problem in class so that the advisor can help as needed. Most importantly, keeping the Disability Office "in the loop" is the only way we will know there is a problem because college advisors do not usually "check-up" on things without a good reason. If your young adult has a disability that requires a personal attendant, then that individual will assist as needed alongside the student. As parents you can stay involved in your young adults lives, but you also need to teach them independence one step at a time.