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Transition Tip: Be Ready for College On Day One - 8 Things Students With LD Can Do Over The Summer

Updated: Jun 30, 2021

The pace at which new information needs to be processed and learned is another big difference between high and college. Simply stated, things move quickly in college. There are only 14 to 15 weeks to cover a great deal of material each semester, and professors have no time to waste. This means that students need to be ready to learn at the very start of the semester. If students take the first couple of weeks to try to “figure things out”, they may find they are too far behind to recover.

Here are 8 tips for what you can do during the summer to be ready on day one of college:.

1. Register with the Disabilities Office as soon as possible. Make an appointment to meet with them in person or virtually to register for services and request accommodations. Make sure you understand the procedures for getting the accommodations. For example, ask who is responsible for notifying professors about extended time on exams, how far ahead of time do students need to sign up for tests in separate rooms, are there special forms to be filled out, etc. Don’t wait until the day before the first midterm to ask.

2. Find a planner that works for you. Time Management is one of the biggest challenges for new college students, and staying on top of due dates is essential. There is a lot of information to keep organized, such as assignment due dates, test dates, course registration deadlines, professor office hours, and more. You will need a tool to help you keep track of it all. Some options may be a large whiteboard planner to put on the wall of your room, a traditional paper planner (here is one I recommend from Order Out Of Chaos), or a digital planner (I like the myHomework app for IOS, Android, Windows or Mac). Whatever you choose, start practicing during the summer and know how to use these tools as soon as classes start.

3. Research tech tools and begin practicing. There are many apps and digital tools to assist you with more than just time management. Look for assistive technology to help with note taking, memorization, writing, productivity, and more. Choose the ones that you think will be most helpful to you and practice BEFORE using them at the start of school. Whether it’s a new app on your phone like Voice Dream (text-to-voice reader) or a tool like the Livescribe Pen (for note taking), digital tools take some getting used to and you want to be ready to use them on the first day of classes. (You should also contact the Disability Offices at your college to see what assistive technology will be available to you).

4. Familiarize yourself with the school website. Locate essential information before arriving on campus. Here are some things to look for:

  • The academic calendar and take note of the important dates, such as the last day to add or drop a class, midterm testing period, first day to register for classes, last day of classes.

  • The tutoring services and the writing center pages. Take note of their hours, and find out how to make appointments. In addition, some schools offer study strategy and time management workshops through their tutoring centers. Look for these offerings and information on how to register.

  • Counseling and Wellness services information. Find out where these offices are located, what services are available and how to access them.

5. Check your school email daily. You will be receiving many messages each day, and if you don’t look at them frequently, it can become overwhelming to read through them all at once. You will be receiving messages from the professors, the student life office, the registrar’s office, advising, and more. All of this information will be important for you to be ready on Day 1.

6. Log onto your college’s learning management system (Canvas, Blackboard, etc) a few weeks before class and check it regularly. Professors may post messages, syllabuses or other important class information. You may even have an assignment for the first day.

7. Purchase your course textbooks before classes start. You can check the college bookstore site or the class info on the school’s learning management systems for the titles. Decide which format works best for you - hard copy, digital, or audio. (WIth the appropriate documentation, the Disability Office may be able to help you locate the audio versions).

8. Keep your brain active and exercised so you are ready for the demands of college level work.

  • First, READ as much as possible! Consider reading a classic novel. Dive into a book about an area of interest. If you can’t think of anything, there are many recommended reading lists on-line. One of my favorite resources for college studying and learning strategies, Thomas Frank from the College Info Geek website, provides a great list of recommended books.

  • Also, review the MATH from the last class you took. This is especially important if you didn’t take math as a senior. One year is a long time to go without math practice before jumping into a college level course.

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