This post is one in a series examining several facets of college readiness. According to Landmark College (www.landmark.edu), important readiness factors include: academic skills, self-understanding, self-advocacy, executive function skills, including time management and organization, and motivation and confidence. This post is looking at the subject of self-advocacy.
The transition from high school to college is accompanied my many significant changes, including the following:
-expectations of college professors differ from expectations of high school teachers
-legal requirements for support and accommodations differ between the two settings, and
– the role of parents changes from direct involvement on many levels during high school to a supportive caring “consultant” role during college.
Because of this, the need for well-developed skills in advocacy for one’s own interests and needs becomes crucial. Preparing for the role of a self-advocate is important in developing readiness for college.
What does self-advocacy mean to you?
Self-advocacy is all about taking control of your own life, getting “in the driver’s seat” so to speak.
The Education Quest Foundation (http://www.educationquest.org/swd.asp) describes the following characteristics of effective self-advocates. Self-advocates:
• make choices based on their preferences, beliefs, and abilities
• take control and make decisions that impact the quality of their lives
• take risks and assume responsibility for their actions
• advocate on behalf of themselves and others
Becoming an effective self-advocate is a gradual process that ideally begins during the high school years. The Office of Disability Services at Penn State University has developed a checklist that outlines suggested advocacy roles of parents and students over the four years of high school.
What steps have you taken to become a self-advocate? What additional steps could you take?
To explore becoming a self-advocate during high school, here are some areas of skill development to consider:
1. Understanding and articulating my strengths, challenges, and needs:
How well do I understand my strengths and challenges?
How clearly can I describe my learning issues?
How easily can I explain how my disability impacts my learning?
What strategies work best for me, and what needs do I have in the educational setting?
2. Engaging with others in efforts to advocate and meet my needs:
How often have I discussed my special needs with teachers?
How effectively have I used the guidance counselor’s services in my school?
How often do I arrange my own meetings and appointments?
How fully do I participate in my IEP or 504 meetings in high school?
What experience do I have being politely assertive?
3. Looking ahead and preparing for the transition:
What role am I taking in researching career options?
How fully am I involved in researching colleges?
How actively am I participating in the college application process?
4. Understanding my rights and responsibilities in college:
What have I learned about the differences in accommodations in high school and college?
(See resources below for a helpful overview of these differences.)
What have I learned about disability support services in the colleges I am considering?
How familiar am I with how to request accommodations in the college of my choice?
5.Setting goals and working toward them:
Have I set goals for myself?
How effective am I at motivating myself?
How experienced am I at problem-solving?
How confident am I with asking for help or support in meeting my goals?
The following resources may be helpful in developing self-advocacy in the teen years:
-A short learning module on becoming a self-advocate and the differences between high school and college online at the Heath Resource Center:
-A U.S. Department of Education document titled “Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities”
-A list of questions to ask a college disability coordinator online at Education Quest Foundation’s website.
If you are interested in working with a coach in developing your self-advocacy skills or other aspects of college readiness or AD/HD management, I’d be happy to talk to you! Please check my website at www.lizahmann.com or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Subsequent blog posts will address additional key areas of college readiness with tips for success in each area. Check back! Or email me at email@example.com to get my newsletter.