5 Ways Dyslexic Students Can Make A Successful Transition To College, Community College, Trade School, or University Life

You’ve been accepted into the college of choice but you have dyslexia.  In high school, you received extra time on tests and help editing papers. You skipped taking a foreign language.  Is that possible in college?  Yes, but there are a few things you need to do to make this happen. 

The first thing after acceptance is to reach out to your college or university’s disabilities office and ask how to apply for accommodations. Search the college’s website for a phone number or email address, and since you are most likely 18 years old or older, you will have to do this yourself.  No passing the project off to your parents (although you can ask them for help :-).  

The application and approval process takes time, so the sooner you apply the sooner you will have accommodations – and if they don’t approve the accommodations you need, you’ll have time to appeal. 

You will need to have documentation supporting your need for accommodations. This may be a 504 or IEP plan from high school or an educational evaluation or dyslexia diagnosis from a professional. Additionally, you will need to provide them with your desired accommodations. Be specific with your requests. Pick out the ones you absolutely need to have, and ones that would be nice to have. Negotiate strongly for the ones you believe you need to be successful.

A commonly assumed belief by many soon-to-be college students is that professors will think of them differently if they have accommodations. Or that professors will think less highly of students with accommodations.  Professors do not think this in the least. They always have some students, every semester, with accommodations. For them, this is a normal part of their job. Do not let this fear keep you from asking for accommodations.

Accommodations in college are worth the effort!  Don’t freak out and try to get by without them.  It could make the difference between an A and a C,  a successful semester, or a not-so-successful semester.  

Below is a complete list of suggested accommodations for college students with dyslexia. Again, contact your college, community college, trade school, or university’s disability office via email or phone.  Make a personal appointment to visit with them. You can bring your parent(s) if you wish, but you have to do the talking.   Ask what they can provide you, and how you can access those accommodations.  Learn about note-taking services, writing labs, and on-campus tutors.  Learn what to do if you are granted extra time on tests, and the procedures to go through.  It will take courage, advocacy, and some humility on your part, but in the end, it will allow you to best demonstrate your knowledge and hard work.

This article is co-authored by two professionals who have experience in helping students with dyslexia receive accommodations at the college level:

Heidi Kroner

Dyslexia Advocate

Former University Adjunct Professor

Executive Director of Aspire Academy

Carly Vannoy

Graduate of Kirkwood Community College

Dyslexia Tutor

Executive Assistant, Aspire Academy

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