5 Tips for Students with Learning Differences who are Transitioning to College

Transitioning from high school to college can be overwhelming. It can be even more challenging if you have a learning disability.

A recent study found that 88% of students with learning disabilities expect to pursue postsecondary goals; however, only 67% actually enroll in a postsecondary program. Of that 67%, only 41% of students with learning disabilities enrolled in college complete their degrees, compared to 52% of students who don’t have learning disabilities.

Additionally, it takes students with learning disabilities longer than average to complete their academic programs.

Guidance and support through the transition from high school to college are important for all students. Here are five simple tips that will set you up for success.

Prepare early.
Know your strengths and weaknesses before beginning your postsecondary education. Whether you are going to a university, community college or vocational school, classes are typically more rigorous compared to high school. Figuring out which subjects you excel at, and which may require more time to understand, can help tremendously.

Before your semester begins, think about where you will find support for these subjects and make a plan. Students need to determine whether in person or online courses work best for their learning styles; many college students experience a combination of both before they earn a degree.

Establish priorities.
Organizing your priorities will help alleviate some of the stress surrounding college. Use a list to lay out important tasks, questions or issues. Be realistic and break down assignments into more manageable chunks with clearly noted deadlines.

Keeping a daily calendar is highly recommended for staying on top of assignments and managing your time wisely. Additionally, there are many apps and electronic options that help college students stay organized and prepare for assignments and exams.

Discover your learning style.
Figuring out how you learn best can make a significant difference. While some students are more visual, others may be more hands on. If you aren’t sure about your learning style, take a quiz like this one.

Discuss your learning style with instructors and adapt your approach to assignments to take advantage of how you learn best. For example, if you’re an auditory learner, recording your lectures to listen to (or type up) later may work for you.

Find a mentor.
A mentor can make all the difference in your college experience. Reach out to an advisor, a professor you relate to or another student who’s organized and doing well to discuss specific challenges you experience.

Talking about your challenges is a great problem-solving technique and lets others know that you care about your progress. Don’t wait until you feel overwhelmed by your classes; reach out beforehand and you will be surprised by the support you will find.

Self-advocate and ask questions.
Now is the time to learn how to speak up for yourself. If you don’t understand an assignment, ask for clarification. You are not expected to know everything. Part of the learning process is asking questions when you don’t understand or need some support. Establishing communication with your peers, professors and counselors is vital to your college success.

Learn more about making a successful transition to college at NorthBridge.

Source: National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Posted on May 20, 2015 in Blog, Mentoring, Student Success, Transition

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