Personal qualities that support academic success

Students who have the following personal qualities are much more likely to thrive in college. You can read more detailed descriptions of the qualities that insure college success here.

* Self-awareness and self-acceptance
* Proactivity as opposed to reactivity
* Perseverance
* Skill in setting short and long-range goals
* Use of effective support systems
* Strong emotional coping strategies

Understanding a student’s rights in college

Individuals with special learning needs are guaranteed special supports in elementary and high school by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. However, in college, no such guaranteed protections exist. Therefore, students need to work congenially with colleges to obtain reasonable accommodations that will facilitate their success.

It is best to have psychological and/or educational testing that was completed less than 3 years before applying to college because colleges usually demand recent testing to support a petition for accommodations.

Students will need to inform the college of their educational needs by registering with the office on campus that is in charge of reviewing and granting accommodations. This office goes by names such as Disabled Student Support Services or Office of Special Services.

Typical “reasonable accommodations” that colleges may decide to grant include:

* Extra time to take tests
* Providing a note taker
* Taking tests in a separate room
* Test read orally to the student and/or the student’s answers transcribed or typed
* Use of tape recorder to record lectures
* Tutoring services (some colleges have tutoring geared for students with special needs, however, most colleges have tutoring available to all students—check both sources)
* Taking a reduced class load
* Requesting “full-time” status for purposes of qualifying for health insurance when taking a reduced course load

Instructors and professors have the power to make decisions that can help students be more successful. The following are some modifications a student may be able to negotiate on a case-by-case basis:

* Obtaining the instructor’s permission to modify an assignment or getting extra time to complete the assignment
* Asking for advice about selecting classes or instructors
* Asking the instructor to award an incomplete rather than an “F”—but be aware of the college policy in regard to “clearing” the “I”

Action steps a student should take to build a solid college support network:

* Think through what kind of support you’d like to have from your parents and friends and express your needs before you go to college
* Think about the kind of academic support you’ll need (for example, will you need tutoring) and make plans to set this up
* Don’t suffer in silence—speak out, reach out when you need to
* Get professional, trained help when you need it: tutors, doctors, etc.

Self-advocacy steps

Successful students understand themselves well. They know their strengths and they have developed ways to minimize the effects of their weaknesses. They also have a clear idea of their short-range and long-term goals, and are committed to meeting these goals.

These self-advocacy steps will help students obtain the supports they need, not only from others but from themselves as well!

* Have a clear plan to graduate in a certain time frame and set your schedule to realistically accomplish this plan
* Logically plan the kind of support you need to give to yourself!
* Meet with your teachers regularly
* Don’t wait until things get bad to see you need a different approach; if it isn’t working—try another approach
* Pause, think and reflect before diving in—avoid the “Opps! and regret”
* Remember: resistance and avoidance stunt maturity; meet challenges had on and don’t be afraid to make mistakes
* Evaluate and think through setbacks—they are the teachers of success!
* Success is a consistent mindset that says “I can do this, I will do this!”
* Everything goes better when you get enough sleep and eat more healthy foods
* Plan ahead on how to manage stress, loneliness, and change
* Seek balance in all things—academics, relationships, pursuit of interests, career development, spiritual growth
* Seek out stabilizing forces (people, classes, work experiences, living arrangements, etc.)
* As soon as you identify a problem surfacing in a class, figure out how to remove it from your path
* Make better time estimates; after you figure out how long you think it will take you to do what you need to do, multiply that by as least 150%
* Keep your long-term, personal goals front and center in your mind, guiding you through the tough times!
* Reward yourself for meeting your deadlines and achieving your goals!

Study Skills

Students who master study skills and use their strengths to learn succeed in college. Try these tips:

* Set up a realistic study schedule and keep to it!!!! Don’t let spontaneity ruin your completion of college
* Frequently review and critique your study approaches to find what is working and emphasize that
* Don’t put off the “boring” or unpleasant tasks; doing so will leave you unprepared and can destroy your grade; find a way to see the value it brings to you as a person or as a professional
* Take frequent, short breaks when your attention fades
* Keep a calendar and an assignment book; record all due dates, test and quiz dates, etc. and schedule study/work sessions by backward planning
* Work with classmates who are strong students and stay on track
* While reading, stop frequently to retell the main idea and details in your own words
* As you read, take notes, jot down questions and related ideas, and make mental pictures of the material to increase your comprehension and retention
* Read the material before you go to the lecture; bring notes or an outline and fill in added material as you listen
* Ask for clarification in class if you miss details; increase your concentration during difficult listening situations

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Kari Miller is a board certified educational therapist and director of Miller Educational Excellence, a Los Angeles based educational therapy facility whose mission is to bring about unlimited possibilities for underachieving students by guiding them to discover their true brilliance and use it to change their lives.

To contact Dr. Miller
Phone: 310-280-9813