In this blog entry, Zachary Benayon, Social Media Ambassador for Tourette Canada shares his experience with obtaining academic supports in College.
If you are a student with TS who is transitioning to College or University, you are entitled to receive academic support whether you disclose your disability or not. I decided to disclose because in doing so, I received the support of an Academic Counsellor, which is similar to a Special Education Teacher. Different post-secondary institutions will probably have different names for this role, but for the purposes of this blog post I am going to use the term Academic Counsellor.
Your Academic Counsellor can help you with a lot of things. First, they will keep track of your accommodations during your school years in College or University. This means making sure that your professors are aware of the accommodations you need and ensuring that you do in fact receive these accommodations. If your instructors are not providing the appropriate accommodations, make sure you tell your Academic Counsellor as soon as possible so they can take steps to resolve the situation. If you are having trouble with your professors, your Academic Counsellor can speak on your behalf and you don’t have to worry about it. I found this to be the best academic support that I got at College. From my experience they really help you and it takes the edge off – I didn’t feel that anxious once my Academic Counsellor told me that “everything will be okay”.
Another thing your Academic Counsellor can help you with is time management. They can give you strategies for using your time wisely whether it is studying, participating in class or organizing your schedule. Yes, managing your time can be tricky, but it is important to know that you’re not alone. If this is a challenge you’re having, ask for help. Putting a few simple strategies into place can really make a difference.
Another academic support that might be useful if you are struggling with your school work or a specific course, is tutoring. I used a tutor in Elementary & Secondary School and it helped me a lot. High school classes have at least 20 students and since I work best with one-on-one instruction, tutoring enabled me to do my best work. Post-secondary classes are usually even bigger so if you like personalized instruction like I do, a tutor is definitely the way to go.
Alternatively, you can see if you can go for extra help with your Professor or instructor. If you choose this route, it is a good idea to let your instructor know you are struggling as early in the course as possible rather than a few days before an exam or big assignment. Lastly, you can try forming a study group with other students. A study group where everyone is contributing and positively helping one another can be a great academic support and can help you make friends outside of residence.
Tests and exams can be very stressful! If you’re worried that you are going to fail or that your studying habits are not up to snuff, see if you’re College or University has some sort of Learning Centre. Learning Centres can help you improve your study habits, which will help you feel more confident about yourself and less anxious. Remember that the goal of an exam isn’t to make you fail or do badly, it is simply to find out how much you know about a particular topic. Half the battle is realizing this and managing your time effectively. When it came time for final tests, exams or projects, I found it helpful to make a schedule on my computer that listed what I was going to do each day. Sticking to that schedule made sure that I got things done on a daily basis rather than procrastinating and then cramming or pulling an all-nighter.
Post-secondary courses can be tough, but if you make use of the supports available to you, manage your time wisely, and keep a positive attitude, you can rise to the challenge. Remember, you won’t get academic support if you don’t seek it out. My biggest tip for academic success in College or University is the old saying “ask and you shall receive”. Be proactive about finding help – look for it, ask for it, and use it. This may involve a bit of work up front, but it will really pay off later in the semester.
To all those who are starting College or University in the fall, good luck with your classes. You can do it!
Be sure to check out the final entry in Zachary Benayon’s blog series, which will be published on Friday. Click here to read part one, where Zachary discusses worries and how to overcome them.