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Tips on Self-Advocacy

Self-advocacy is the ability to communicate one's talents, skills, and needed compensatory strategies to others.

Successful college students generally demonstrate the following:

  • Knowledge of one's disability and the kinds of teaching strategies, tools and services that best help one compensate.
  • Maturity and initiative to assume the greater share of one's own advocacy.
  • Adherence to effective, routine study habits, to whatever degree is necessary for success.
  • Acceptance of and initiative to seek assistance for academic and other problems, as appropriate.
  • Realization that it may take longer to graduate than one's peers and that one may have to study harder than peers.
  • Realization that post-secondary education is meant to be a challenge and that temporary frustrations are a part of the normal growth process.
  • Maintain regular and frequent communication with one's support network which may include friends, family, faculty members, academic advisor and OEA service providers.

It has also been observed that the college-level student with a disability must be self-reliant and able to cope with the ever-changing challenges of daily living. Students with disabilities who have learned to rely heavily on both parents and teachers to direct them and manage their lives may have difficulty adjusting to the demands of college life. Thus, as a student, the task is to find a college/university that will stretch and develop talents, interests, and abilities while at the same time be respectful and supportive of needs.

Virginia Department of Education, Student Services. (June 1993). Directory of Postsecondary Opportunities for Students with Disabilities at Institutions of Higher Education in Virginia.