Summer is just about over, which means it’s back to school season. For some young adults, this means heading off to college for the first time. This is a daunting experience for anyone and more so for students with learning differences, but Transitions is here to make that change easier. Read on for some tips for succeeding at college from Priya Winston, an instructor at Transitions and a grad student who used these strategies herself to great effect in school!
- If you have a learning difference, talk to your professors about it. Don’t be afraid they will react negatively; it is the school’s job to help you succeed. Most colleges have a disability resource center where you can request accommodations and obtain a letter to give your professor when you speak to them outlining your requests. Make sure you know where this center is and how to make an appointment there before you arrive on campus. Prepare to have the conversation with your professor by researching your learning difference and assessing what you might need to succeed. Then, meet with your professor privately, tell them what they need to know and suggest reasonable accommodations (for example, tutoring or extra time on tests) that might be helpful to you.
- Get to class at least five minutes early – the earlier you leave to go to class, the better, especially on the first day, because you don’t know if you’ll be held up by traffic or trouble finding your classroom. It’s always better to be significantly early than even a little bit late!
- When you get to class, sit up front. This will help you feel more relaxed and focused and will minimize distractions from the rest of the room. You will also be able to see and hear the professor more clearly, and it will be easy to ask questions when you need to.
- Get the contact information of someone in each of your classes so you always have someone who can help with homework, remind you of assignments, share notes and provide any other important information you might have missed. Plus, this is a great way to make a friend and study buddy!
- Always try to dress appropriately for the weather. If you’re focused on being too hot or cold, you aren’t focused on class. Get into the habit of bringing a jacket to class even on warm days. It might be hot outside, but the air conditioning in the classroom might leave you too cold to concentrate.
- If the professor allows it, bring a drink and/or snacks to class as well. Preoccupation with hunger or thirst is just as distracting as preoccupation with temperature. Plus, staying hydrated and well-nourished keeps your brain power going strong.
- If you don’t already, start using alarms. Use them for when you need to wake up for class, of course, but they are also a great tool for anything in your day that you need to remember, such as when to leave for class or pick up your laundry. Alarms are great for studying as well. If you set alarms to take regular breaks, it will actually help keep you on task because breaking the work into smaller chunks of time makes it all less overwhelming.
- Use analog clocks and/or watches rather than digital ones as much as possible. Analog interfaces are more visual and let you see in a more concrete way what time it is now, how much time has passed and how much time you have left. If you ever have trouble keeping track of time, simply switching to analog clocks could have a big impact on your life.
If you are starting college for the first time, good luck! It won’t be easy, but as long as you stay organized, work hard and ask for help when you need it, success is within your grasp.