Recommendations for College Students with Learning Disabilities and/or ADHD
1. Inform your academic advisor about your disability. Your advisor will be better able to help you if aware of your particular needs. You should plan a carefully balanced course schedule so that you’re not overloaded with courses requiring heavy reading, large amounts of memorization or extensive writing. It is better to do well with fewer classes than poorly with too many; consider taking 12 credits versus 15 per semester.
2. To the extent that you can, choose small, structured classes with professors who use multi-sensory methods of instruction (e.g., seeing, hearing and doing), provide a detailed syllabus, present information in an organized manner, and use various ways to evaluate student performance.
3. Register with Disability Support Services (DSS). The office offers an array of accommodations and services to assist students with documented disabilities. Even if you choose not to use accommodations immediately, it is advisable to register with DSS to ensure timely provision of services should you need them later.
4. Be knowledgeable about your disability and comfortable describing it so you can advocate effectively for yourself with your professors. DSS can help you with this if needed. Be sure to inform your professors of your needs early in the semester so they can accommodate you appropriately. A memorandum from DSS is needed to request accommodations.
5. Organize your learning materials and establish a set time and place to study. Estimate ahead of time how long a given class assignment will take. Generally plan on at least two hours of study time outside of class for every hour in class. Study more difficult subjects when your energy levels are highest. Build in study breaks; fatigue is a big time waster.
6. Use a calendar for planning rather than trying to keep a schedule in your head. Keep a monthly calendar with semester assignments, quizzes, exams, and special occasions, such as holidays. Then fill out a weekly calendar with slots for each hour that includes all your classes, tutoring appointments, work schedule, study time, etc. From the weekly calendar, draw up a daily calendar with a list of things to do each day.
7. Attend all of your classes, take notes and participate in class discussions. This will get you involved, and if your professor gives credit for participation, it can bring up your grade if you have trouble with tests.
8. Sit toward the front of the classroom to minimize distractions and help you focus on the professor.
9. If you have questions about course material or trouble structuring an assignment do not hesitate to talk with your professors, preferably during their scheduled office hours. It is important to seek help as soon as you need it so you do not fall behind.
10. If you don’t understand, ask your professor to rephrase the information rather than merely repeating it. Also ask for examples or applications of the material.
11. Preview lecture topics prior to class discussion. Using the course syllabus, look over the assigned textbook chapter headings, familiarize yourself with new vocabulary and preview the information to be covered before the class lecture. This will provide you with a frame of reference to help you understand and remember information later presented in class.
12. Keep up with reading assignments and use reading strategies that promote comprehension and efficiency. Such strategies include previewing new material by looking over the section headings and reading the end-of-chapter summaries and questions, highlighting important text information, and relating new material to what you already know about the subject to help you remember it.
13. Attend all review sessions offered by your professors. If you learn well by studying with others, join or start a study group to discuss and review material for your courses. You can share notes, ask each other questions, and work out problems as a group.
14. Index cards are good aids for memorization of terms and facts. Use them like flash cards, writing the key word on the front of the card and the definition or fact on the back. After you have learned them, return to them later to review for tests.
15. Use resources available on campus if you have trouble with the content of a course. Both the Academic Achievement Center and Writing Lab provide tutoring support. It is important to seek help early in the semester rather than waiting until you are having serious difficulty in a course.
16. Make an appointment to talk with a counselor if you’re experiencing trouble with emotions such as anxiety and depression, which can interfere with your academic success. The Counseling Center provides a variety of services, including individual, group and career counseling to help students resolve problems. Help is also available to improve attention, organization and time management skills.