61 million adults within the United States live with a disability, and many may find certain life events — such as going to college — overwhelming, and even impossible at times. However, it’s important to recognize that going to college and graduating is entirely possible. From getting informed on the matter to finding a balance and the importance of having a support system, here’s what you need to know.
Perhaps one of the most vital things you can do when planning to attend college with a disability is to do your research beforehand, both before and during the application process in order to ensure you’ll be attending the right one for you and your needs.
It’s important to get informed on what accommodations the colleges you’re applying to have — for example, if you experience a physical disability that requires a wheelchair, it’s important to ensure that your prospective college choices campuses are wheelchair accessible.
Reaching out to your college’s Office of Disability will help, as will getting informed on your legal rights as a student with a disability, and other accommodations and resources that may be available to you. Additional accommodations can include ASL interpreters, note takers, extended time for taking tests, or testing in rooms with little distraction, to name a few.
Attending college with a disability can be a major transition for many people, and finding support while you’re there can be a major benefit when it comes to your mental health and adapting to college life effectively. With that in mind, nearby, or even on-campus support groups can aid in finding those with similar experiences, and even making new friends that you can turn to when need be.
Look for resource directories detailing support groups for your specific situation. For example, support groups for those with cerebral palsy can be found through resources such as the Cerebral Palsy Family Network. Support groups can also be useful for coping and venting about issues you may have, finding great advice, or even discovering additional resources that you may otherwise not have known about.
Additionally, those who are attending a college close to home may also benefit from having a strong support system from family and friends as well, such as in the form of frequent visits.
Finding a balance
When it comes to actually attending your college of choice, navigating major life changes that come along with doing so — especially if you’re living on campus — can become difficult. From learning to balance self-care and your disability’s specific needs with your academics and extracurricular activities (and even support group meetings), there are many challenges that can come with attending college with a disability.
Thankfully, along with the help that support groups and accommodations can bring, other typical means of managing college life — such as by using an academic planner to stay organized, taking a mental health day from time to time, and lightening your course load can also be of help in finding a balance.
Attending college with a disability can often seem like a daunting challenge for those considering it, but it’s important to realize that it doesn’t have to be. Through the help of doing your research beforehand when applying and utilizing your resources, you can effectively make the transition and succeed both personally and academically.