Achieving Academic Success with a Learning Difference: Four Tips From a Recent Grad

NorthBridge Student Spotlight

The transition to postsecondary education can be challenging for any student. However, individuals with learning differences can experience even greater struggles. Recent ASU graduate and former NorthBridge student, Emily Reynolds, proves that with the right resources and support, any student can achieve their education goals.

Students with learning differences often have difficulty with executive functioning skills like time management, organization and planning, especially in a college environment where no day is the same. With the help of her support network, including NorthBridge Academic Specialists, Emily learned what she needed to do to succeed.

Here are her tips for success.

1. Learn how you study best

“Every person learns and studies differently. I was taught an eight day study plan where I would study a section a day for one hour, then combine the sections until the day before an exam. I never pulled an all-nighter before an exam because I knew I would crash and burn.”

Some of Emily’s strategies for success included filling out study guides and flashcards and listening to calming music while studying.

2. Use time management tools

“I always made sure to make time to complete homework and take care of myself personally, such as going to the gym or seeing my friends. Staying organized is mandatory. I eat, sleep, and breathe by having a planner; I bring it everywhere I go.”

Emily came to NorthBridge as a college student looking for a little extra help. Her full schedule left little time to stay organized and focused on her school work.

Like many students with learning differences, Emily quickly discovered that one of her biggest challenges in college was adjusting to a new schedule and managing extra free time.

3. Advocate for yourself

“At ASU, I had to identify myself as having different learning needs. NorthBridge also provided mentor support, including self-advocacy strategies.”

Learning to advocate for oneself is a critical skill in life, and in college. Students with learning differences who are used to getting support from parents, counselors and educators in high school must on their own speak directly to Disability Services in college to ask for accommodations and help.

Gaining independence as a college student with learning differences is one thing, but maintaining it is another. Emily put the strategies she learned to good use, which allowed her to balance schoolwork with her social life for a positive overall college experience.

4. Get support

“I had one of the craziest schedules a college student could have; I was student teaching full time, going to school full time, and working full time. NorthBridge helped me achieve my goals by always being there for me. Any student who’s even considering signing up with NorthBridge, I would say do it! Their mission is to help students succeed. They want you to do well and are always rooting for you. I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for NorthBridge.”

Emily’s college success is one hundred percent her own doing, but she credits the outside help she got along the way. Her biggest piece of advice for incoming college students? “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Posted on September 9, 2015 in ADHD, Autism, Blog, Dyslexia, Student Success

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