I believe sharing personal experiences, perspectives, and information is a great way to help others make decisions to meet their goals. Speaking from experience, planning for college can be an overwhelming experience for any high school student, and especially overwhelming for some students with disabilities and their families. The following are some of my personal experiences and perspectives:
Think about what you are looking for in a college.
· Stop and think about what you are looking for in a college, and then start researching your options. Remember that not everyone wants to go to college for a four-year degree, and other options for college exist. There are many options out there for different people.
Know what kind of environment works.
· Looking back, I discovered it was not only important to know what programs I was interested in but also to know what kind of environment would work for me. The college I went to had a large number of commuting students, and there weren’t a lot of people around over the weekends. I didn’t like that. You have to look at every aspect of your life when you look for a college. That is important.
It's important for disabled students to know some of the history of disability.
· Taking a course on disability culture as part of my undergraduate studies had a profound impact on me. I took a class about disability, equity, and culture at a time when I was very down and negative about my disability. This course helped me a lot to better understand that it is not an individual thing and about me the whole time, but that disability is also a cultural thing. I think it is very important for disabled students to know some of the history of disability and so on, to understand it better for themselves. I think it is good to take a course about it. You don’t have to major in it, but you will learn more about it. I would recommend that.
Think College recently published a Student Resource Guide including insightful tips from current or recent college graduates with disabilities. I was pleased to be invited to participate and share some of my personal experience and perspectives.
For a PDF of the Student Resource Guide with more tips and perspectives, plus strategies, checklists, national organizations and websites, publications, and disability specific resources for college planning, go to https://thinkcollege.net/sites/default/files/files/resources/FinalStudentResourceGuide.pdf
More about Think College – Think College is a national organization dedicated to developing, expanding, and improving inclusive higher education options for people with intellectual disability. With a commitment to equity and excellence, Think College supports evidence-based and student-centered research and practice by generating and sharing knowledge, guiding institutional change, informing public policy, and engaging with students, professionals and families. Visit ThinkCollege.net for more information and resources.
Founder of Jason’s Connection – an online resource for those with disabilities, mental health, aging and other needs. Jason was awarded an M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education and Advanced Certificate in Disability Studies from Syracuse University. Jason is also a Research Associate at the Burton Blatt Institute, an international think tank for Disability Rights and Human Justice at Syracuse University. He regularly contributes to the blog in his own series called Jason’s View and travels the country consulting and speaking about disability issues and rights. To read more from Jason Harris, read Jason's View.