College: You Can DO-IT!

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Students are sitting on a bench. In a classroom, a man is lecturing. A student shops for a notebook. Another uses a wheelchair lift to board a bus.
[Matthew] I'm concerned about going to college, about access, wheelchair access. How will I get around campus?
[Bridget] I'm concerned that I won't be able to understand my professors very well in class.
[Jorja] When I take tests, the teachers can't read my writing, so I need somebody to write the answers.
[Michael] Maybe to get some extra time on tests, because I have to reread materials, or the questions, to make sure I understand what they're asking for.
[Matt/Interpreter] Well, I'm concerned about the fact that I need an interpreter, because without an interpreter, it'll just completely go over my head; I'll be lost, I won't know what to do; and I'll just be lost.
[Narrator] Sound familiar? College involves some extra challenges for students with disabilities. We'll show you how to succeed.
As students maneuver around campus, a title reads "COLLEGE: You Can Do It!" Two women are using wheelchairs.
[Narrator]'re thinking about going to college. Good! Because if you want to do it, now is the time to plan!
In a classroom...
[Professor] Get a good education, and create your own job.
[Narrator] Ask your high school counselor about transition-to-college programs. These students are participating in one called DO-IT Scholars at the University of Washington, where they're learning the ins and outs of campus life.
[Professor] ...until you've got it firmly in your mind.
[Narrator] The program teaches everything from study skills to applying for financial aid. And it includes information on adaptive technology, housing possibilities, and personal assistance for students with disabilities.
[Andrew] The DO-IT program has helped me realize that college is possible.
[Aimee] It's been the best experience of my life.
[Narrator] Whether or not you find a transition program that works for you, you should call colleges or universities directly to ask about their orientation process. And then, start thinking about choices.
[Jean Hernandez] Well, we tend to believe students should start looking at careers when they're in junior high. And the reason for that is, that the sooner the better. Because if they're going to go on to college or they're going to look at specific types of careers, they really need to take certain types of courses to be able to get into the university or the college setting.
[Narrator] Even if you're already a senior, you can still get started. But do it now. It's time to get those college applications in, so think about which college would be best for you.
A balloon pops
[Balloon pops]
[Kathy Cook] Students will want to consider what types of programs the schools have to offer; what types of interests they have; what types of career choices they may have; and then take those things into consideration when you look at each individual school.
[Narrator] Check out both academics and accommodations. Every college should have either a Disabled Student Services Office, or at least a contact person to assist you. Call and ask questions! Try to go to the schools where you've applied and make sure you can really get around on campus. And find out what resources are available in the surrounding community.
[Kathy Cook] I think it would be really important, if you're moving, if you're relocating to a different city, to check into the resources available in that city. Here in Seattle, all of the Metro buses are equipped with wheelchair lifts on the buses, but not every city has that yet.
[Narrator] Once you've chosen a college, the next step is to...
[Monica] A lot of high school students get scared, and they're thinking, I can't do it. But I think anybody can do it. If you can make it through high school, it's just one step up. I always think of it as, you graduate, you're in twelfth grade; it's just like the thirteenth grade. That's all it is to me.
[Narrator] It isn't exactly like high school, though. As Monica found out, there are some new responsibilities to take on.
[Monica] You learn to be really responsible, because when you're in high school, your teachers look after you a lot. They tell you what to do; they make sure you go home and do your homework. And, whereas, when you first come to college, you kind of feel as if your teachers don't care. But it's not really that, it's just that they put the responsibility on you. You know, this is my second year. I think that I've learned to be more responsible. I actually take time to study three hours a night, and it pays off in the end.
Students are working together.
[Narrator] It also pays to ask for whatever help you may need.
[Hioni] You should always be your own self-advocate. Just because you get to a big university like this, don't expect that everything is going to be ready for you, that every one of your problems has already been solved. You've got to be there, and you've got to speak up for what it is that you need and make sure that you're heard. Because otherwise, if you just assume someone else has thought of it for you, then you're going to be left out.
[Narrator] When Hioni gets her schedule at the beginning of the quarter, she goes to each classroom and checks it out. Then, on the first day of class, she's ready.
[Hioni] You have to get out there and have to find out. They might not know. They might think, hey, this is a perfectly fine room, and then you go see it and you're like, I can't get in there. So you've got to check it out for yourself, and you've got to make sure that you know what you need.
[Narrator] Hioni is able to choose her classes early through priority registration. In this way, she can schedule enough time between classes to get around. That's very important, because it's up to you to be in class on time.
[Hioni] You can see which times are most convenient for you, and design your own schedule to where you would like to be and what types of instructors you want to have and what buildings you want to meet in, or whatever. And that's something that all students can do, disabled or otherwise.
Hioni approaches a desk.
Hi, Tami. Hey Hioni, can I help you? Yeah, I just need to return this. Okay.
[Narrator] Be sure to work with the Disabled Student Services Office from the beginning. They'll let you know if you have to document your disability in order to receive services, and they'll help you get those services.
[Counselor] There are standard accommodations, such as books on tape, Brailling, sign language interpreters, different things like that, that a Disabled Student Services office would be able to provide. Other types of accommodations that may be offered through the Disabled Student Services Office are advocacy training, to teach students how to work with their professors and request accommodations; some schools offer classes in note-taking, or test-taking anxiety, or different things like that.
A student read Braille.
[Anna] Okay, part A for number 1 is...meta-chloro...nitro...benzene.
Another writes.
[Narrator] Separate testing can be arranged if you need to work with a scribe, or if you need more time for your exams. And keep technology in mind! Takuya, a freshman, has found that his computer is essential.
[Tak] The computer can help me because it can check my grammar; it can help me to understand how to write; it can help me how to spell out some words I do not know; and it also can give me some word definition.
In a lab.
[Narrator] Get to know your professor! It's one of the most important things you can do.
[Kathy Cook] It is really important for a student to develop good rapport with their professors, because that person could potentially become a referral for a job, or scholarships, or different things like that. And so one thing that students should keep in mind is the way that they approach the professor, the way that they request accommodations; to make it a request, and not a demand; and just to work together to come up with different accommodations.
[Narrator] If your disability doesn't show, it may be even more important to explain things to your professors. For example, no one can see a learning disability. Or, in Monica's case, most people would never know she has impaired vision. So she tells them.
[Monica] The teachers are really understanding. They understand when you tell them and they make accommodations for you, and they try to help you out in the best way possible. So I just have found, where you might feel embarrassed, they might treat you in a different way, actually it just turns out better. You get treated well.
In a cafeteria.
[Narrator] Other students, too, are usually very supportive.
[Hioni] There's always somebody around to help you if you're having any problems, and I've found people here to be extremely courteous. All you have to do is ask them for help. Don't expect it, but if you ask them, they will help you.
[Professor] The ten commandments are not multiple choice.
[Narrator] As a college student, you should... It's great to go to college just for the sake of knowledge. But most people want and need a career when they get out.
[Narrator] Get a job on or off campus while you're in school. Volunteer for something. Try an internship. Any of these things will enhance your resume.
[Rachael] I had an internship at Battelle, which was very valuable for me, and I learned a lot there.
[Jean] From the employers that I talk with, I would say there's three things that they look at. One thing that's a very important thing is work experience. So in that sense, students should try to look at internships or volunteer experiences while they're in college. The second thing is leadership experiences, and that's where being involved in student organizations, doing projects that are out of the norm, out of the classroom, are real important. And I think the third one is grades. And not that you have to be a 4.0 student, but you definitely have to be at least a 3.0 or better. And in some cases, a 3.5 is very important, especially for research-type companies or sciences, the sciences fields.
A student enters a center for career services.
[Narrator] Check out the career center on campus for ideas. And before you actually choose a major, think about what you like to do. Try to see yourself in that career. Assess your qualifications.
[John] It's incumbent upon the applicants to do some self-assessment. About that, to get an understanding, of what it is they like to do, What their limitations are in working, and how those needs and wants and limitations all sot of mix together and come into this professional arena.
Hioni is playing cards with other students. Outside a student in a wheelchair laughs.
[Narrator] The last thing to remember is...
[Sherri] I think social life is a big part of college. And to make sure I have one....I'll spend a lot of time doing work, but I'll always allow like an hour or something just to socialize.
[Hioni] Everyone's trying to make connections with everybody else, instead of trying to stay with their own little clique that they were in when they were in high school.
[Narrator] Hioni came from a small town to a large urban university.
In a wheelchair, Hioni enters a dorm room. she goes to a computer.
She chose dorm living as a way to meet new people.
[Hioni] If I lived off campus in a little apartment, then I would only come here for the classes, and I would miss out on all those other extracurricular activities that you hear about just because you're here in the dorm. So it just facilitates a lot of great friendships and a lot of wonderful opportunities for social interaction.
[Narrator] After all this, do you still have a few little twinges of fear? Just a small lack of confidence at the thought of college? Well, don't worry. You're not alone. And you'll get over it.
[Monica] Even just your first quarter or semester is going to be really tough. But I would just say, don't give up. Because I know my first quarter was hard, because not only there's already the hardship of your disability, which kind of, maybe, so much brings you down, and you're thinking, oh, I can't keep up and everything. But more so it's just adjusting to the college life. And my thing is just that, stick with it. Because I know my first quarter I thought, college is not for me. I'm dropping out. And now look at me... I think I'm going to go on into accounting and everything and even thinking of coming back for my master's. So I just say, my thing would be, just stick with it. It does get better.