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Self Advocacy

Steps you can take to help you be a successful student

In college YOU are responsible for getting the help you need. You must be able to advocate for yourself. Advocates are persons who know what they want and will stand up for their rights. Making each of the following 5 steps a habit will help you to be a good self-advocate and a successful student.

Know Yourself and Your Disability

Before you can advocate for yourself, you need to identify your:

  • Strengths - the skills you do well right now. My strengths are:
  • Areas to improve - the skills you need improve that will help you realize success.
  • The areas I need to improve are: __________
  • Interests - the career areas you may want to explore.
  • My interests are: __________
  • Preferences - the ways you like to learn.
  • The ways I learn best are: __________
  • You also need to know how to talk about your disability in a way that other people will understand. Do you know what your disability is?
  • My disability is: __________
  • Where is your official documentation or paperwork that explains what your disability is?
  • The college or school has my documentation so that I can get the accommodations that will help me succeed: YES NO **
    **If no, this should be one of your top immediate priorities.

Know Your Rights and Responsibilities

Colleges cannot close their doors to you because you have a disability. Your school must provide services that will allow you an equal opportunity to succeed in school. Please refer to the web pages titled "Rights and Responsibilities". It has more information on this topic.

  • My responsibilities are: __________
  • My rights are: __________

Know Where to Go For Help

A very important part of being a successful student is the ability to know when you need help or when you don't need help. Writing down the names and phone numbers of the people on campus who will help you, including staff at Disabled Student Programs and Services, is a good idea.

The people I can go to for help are:

  • Name: __________
    Phone: __________
  • Name: __________
    Phone: __________
  • Name: __________
    Phone: __________

Solano College Disability Services Program – (707) 864-7136

Take Action

Once you know who you are and what you need, you can work on reaching your goals. You should also work on communicating your needs. This means that you should practice talking with your instructors. You might practice on a counselor or a trusted friend. Practice explaining your disability and the accommodations or modifications you will need to help you be successful.

Realize that you will not be the first student to ever talk with an instructor. Talking to an instructor might seem scary now, but as you become more aware of who you are, you will gain more confidence. When you are ready, schedule a meeting with your instructors.

These ideas can make the meeting with your instructors go smoothly:

  • Talk with your instructor before the semester starts.
  • Schedule a private meeting in his/her office.
  • Be prepared to anchoruss your disability.
  • Be ready to refer the instructor to the Disability Support Services office if he/ she needs more information than you have.
  • Be confident! You know yourself better than anyone.
  • Thank your instructor meeting with you.
    -OR-
  • Some students find it easier to write a letter to give to their instructors instead of talking to them. Writing a letter allows you to edit and re-edit what you are trying to say.

Manage Your Time Wisely

One of the best ways to be a successful student is to use your time wisely.

Planning your time each day will help you to stay on track. Some people like to carry a calendar with them to help organize their day. Other people make "to do" lists and cross off tasks as they are completed.

Estimate how long you need to accurately complete your different school tasks and set that time aside each day. Give yourself extra time to work on homework to make sure that you do a good job.

Do you know how long you need to study before you take tests? If you wait until the last minute, you might not have enough time to get your mind ready for your test.

Managing your time might be the most important factor in being a successful student.

This page derived from a document which was supported in whole or in part by the U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, (Cooperative Agreement No. H324M980109). However, the opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the U. S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, and no official endorsement by the Department should be inferred. Note: There are no copyright restrictions on this document: however, please credit the source and support of federal funds when copying all or part of this material. This document is also available on the web for printing at: http://das.kucrl.org/iam.html.