By Paula Rainer, Ph.D.
If you are experiencing anxiety or uncertainty about pursuing college because you have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or a learning or physical disability, you are not alone. Thousands of high school students in this area are sharing your fears. To minimize your anxiety and ensure successful enrollment and performance while in college, there are a few conditions that should be put in place.
The U.S. Department of Civil Rights supports your right to reap the rewards of college without barriers or complications. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects you from discrimination based on your disability.
The conditions that need to be in place at your college so you can be successful are:
1) Documentation of your disability
2) A written report of college approved accommodations
3) A plan to share the information with professors
4) Knowledge of additional academic, social, and psychological services on campus
Documentation of your disability generally comes from a qualified psychologist or medical doctor. This information includes a diagnosis, date of diagnosis, assessments and methods used to determine the diagnosis, long and short term diagnosis implications, and the impact on academic, social, emotional, and psychological functioning. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Section 504 Plan, is generally not considered adequate documentation for colleges. As a result, additional current assessments are necessary. Some high schools and colleges provide these services while others do not. Also state offices of Vocational Rehabilitation Services offer testing to students who qualify.
Once your documentation has been successfully registered with the college, the college will make accommodations for you based on your disability. Examples of accommodations include tutoring, modified course load, recording devices, adaptive software, extended test time, preferential seating, quite testing environments, prepared notes, sign language interpreters, Braille documents, priority registration, and designated dorm rooms.
Taking the time to ensure these conditions are in place can play a significant role in reducing anxiety and stress and maximize college success. College graduation significantly increases the quality of living, earning potential and overall family stability for persons with disabilities. In particular, a college degree neutralizes income disparities among students with disabilities and their general education peers. A qualified professional can help provide anxiety and stress reduction strategies and assistance with handling transition assessments and wrap around services for high schools to college transition.