Answering Subjective Test Items

Last week we covered strategies to use during objective assessments.  During this blog post, we will review strategies to use during subjective tests.  While taking an objective assessment, the answer you choose can be right or wrong, subjective assessments rely on your instructor’s interpretation of what you have written to determine if you know the material.  Subjective test items can include essay or short answer responses.

Preparation is key in completing essay questions and short response.  Start your studying early so that you can not only recall information easily, but also apply it.  When you take the exam, you will want to implement previewing, planning, writing, and reviewing skills.

  • Previewing.  When you get your assessment, make sure to give yourself a few minutes to preview it.  Look over the test to see what is being asked of you and estimate how much time you have on each item.  If there are multiple essays to complete, consider which one you would like to answer first.  This will likely be the one that you feel you can complete most easily.  Then carefully read the prompt, underlining key words and phrases to gain a thorough understanding of how to complete the question.  If there are multiple components to the question, make sure that you consider each part.

  • Planning.  It is also important to give yourself time to plan your response.  Begin by writing a brief outline of your response.  Refer back to the question to make sure you’re addressing everything you need in your outline.  Also think of some specific examples you can include to strengthen your points.

  • Writing.  Make sure that you address the question within the first paragraph.  Following your introductory paragraph, each paragraph needs to start with a topic sentence.  Your goal should be to answer the question directly with as much information as possible to demonstrate your understanding of the topic.  Leave nothing to inference.  Make sure to define terms you use and support any statement with facts.

  • Reviewing.  When you plan how long you have to answer each item, remember to allow for time to review your responses.  Once you have completed all essay items, go back and read through your answers, checking for appropriate capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and content.  If you are running out of time, it is always better to have a partial response than leaving it blank so that you may receive partial points.

Now that we’ve discussed skills and strategies to increase your chances of success in an educational environment, we will transition to discussing specific disorders that individuals may have cause difficulties in school.

If you’re utilizing all of these study and time management strategies and you continue to struggle to achieve at a level that is equal to your effort, there may be something more going on. Next, we will discuss specific disorders that can explain underachievement in an educational setting.

Answering Objective Test Items

Now that we discussed tips for beginning an exam, this week we will be delving into different types of test questions.  Exam questions typically fall under two types: objective and subjective.  This week, we will focus on objective exam items.  On objective test questions, there is one correct answer.  These types of questions include True/False, multiple choice, matching, and fill in the blank. 

True/False Test Items: True/False items can be basic and test your knowledge of facts, but they can also be more complex and require you to demonstrate your ability to apply what you have learned.  It is important to carefully analyze several components within these types of questions.  You should always trust your own knowledge of material based on what you have studied and learned, but the following considerations may make it easier when you have doubts. 

  • Modifiers.  Modifiers describe the statement and can give you a clue as to whether the answer is true or false.  Absolute modifiers tend to be false.  These include words like never, only, always, etc.  Qualifying modifiers, on the other hand, tend to be part of true statements.  Qualifying words might include most, generally, often, etc. 

  • Negatives.   It is important to carefully read true/false statements and recognize if a negative is being used.  While negative are usually small words within a sentence, their impact is huge.  Negatives such as not, cannot, and other prefixes like dis-, un-, non-, etc.  completely change the meaning of a statement.  Additionally, using two double negatives an make a true/false item even more complex to understand.  It is helpful to underline all negatives so that you can make sure you are clear about what the statement is saying.

  • Strings of Items.  When there is a list of items within a true/false item, underline each item in the list and determine whether all of the items are true or false.  For example, even if just one listed item is false, then the entire item is false.

Multiple Choice Test Items: Multiple choice items, where you are given multiple options and you have to choose the best one, is one of the most commonly used test formats in post-secondary education.  You must be well prepared, read, and carefully consider what the question is asking and which response is the most appropriate. 

  • True/False.  True/False questions can be made into multiple choice items.  An example of this type of question could be, “Which of the statements below are false…”  In this case, use the strategies listed above for true/false test items, eliminating items that are clearly true.

  • Modifiers.  Much like True/False items, options using qualifying modifiers are much more likely to be correct than those using absolute modifiers.  As you read through your choices, cross out items that clearly do not make sense as well as items that use absolute modifiers in a way that makes the response false.

  • Numbers.  When all choices are numbers (like percentages, years, height, etc.), the correct option is usually less likely to be the extreme number.

  • Decoys.  When taking any assessment, make sure to carefully consider all your options.  It is not uncommon to put incorrect responses into multiple choice items.  If you do not look carefully, you may choose the incorrect answer first without fully considering your options.  

Matching Test Items: Matching items usually require you to match a word to a definition or idea. 

  • Make sure to read the directions for this portion of the assessment carefully.  Often, items can be used only once, but sometimes the instructions indicate that they can be used more than one time.

  • Match items that you are certain of first.

  • If you can only use an item once, make sure to cross out all of the items that you have already used.

These tips about objective assessment items are not meant to replace good study strategies.  The only way to do well on an assessment is to properly prepare, but this information should help you critically analyze your test items.  If you truly don’t know the right answer on an item after you have gone through these different strategies, skip it and come back to it if you have time at the end of the exam.  Next week, we will cover test-taking strategies for objective assessment items.

Test-Taking Strategies

Test taking can be very anxiety producing for students.  Luckily there are several strategies that can help you better prepare and feel more comfortable the day of the test.

Preparation.  In past posts, we have highlighted the importance of planning your time, note-taking, reading, and studying.  We cannot overstate the importance of preparation enough.  Frequent review of material throughout the semester, not just immediately before the exam, will help you truly master the material and feel more confident in your ability to do well.

Scheduling.  Besides coming up with a plan to manage your time throughout the semester (link), you will also want to think about your schedule the day of the test.  It is best not to schedule your study time right before the exam; all of your studying should be happening before the day of the test.  Knowing that everything is already done should relieve stress.  You won’t feel rushed getting to class, and if something were to go wrong, you won’t lose valuable study time.  You also should avoid scheduling anything immediately after a test.  This way, you will not be preoccupied with the time and whether or not you will be late to your next appointment, and can completely focus on the task at hand.

Previewing.  When you begin the exam, you should first preview the test so that you can come up with the best strategy for that specific exam.  Knowing how much time you have to complete the exam, how many questions there are, which questions are most time consuming, and which questions are worth the most points can help you come up with the best way to prioritize the questions.

Starting.  Once you have previewed the exam, it is time to begin.  First and foremost, read the instructions carefully.  This is such a vital step of the test-taking process.  Make sure that you understand what is being asked of you by re-reading the instructions and underlining the important components.  Ask the instructor for clarification of anything you might not understand.  Once you start the test, remember that you don’t have to go to in order.  You may want to prioritize questions worth the most points first, and then complete low point items later.  If you come to a question that you don’t know the answer to, skip it and come back to it.  Sometimes completing other questions will give you the information you need or prompt you to remember relevant material.  

Now that you have basic strategies to begin your exam, next week we will talk about specific item types and tips on how to address each one.

Study Strategies

Once you have determined how to organize yourself, read your materials, found the optimal study environment, and taken comprehensive notes, it is time to actually study the class material in to prepare for your assessments.

Studying is not what happens a few days before an exam. It is everything that you do throughout the semester. Going to class, taking notes, reviewing your notes, reading the assignment, meeting with a study group-all of these activities count as studying. And it begins on the first day of the semester. Keeping up with your work is an asset that cannot be underestimated.

Frequent Review. Course content is interconnected and should be continuously reviewed through the semester. Without ongoing review, we forget content over time. In order to transfer the information from your short-term memory to your long-term memory, you should review your notes within a 24 hour period. It is advisable to set aside a few minutes every day to skim through your notes, fill in missing information, and identify questions that you may have.

Keep the Format in Mind. When preparing for an assessment, it is essential that you study with the test format in mind. Not all test formats are similar, so you must modify your study strategies to reflect the type of thinking skills required on an exam. For example, a multiple choice exam typically requires memorization of factual information in comparison to a short answer or essay exam which typically requires application of information. You should also have a sense of how many questions will be on the exam in order for you to allot enough time to each question.

Active Study Methods. For many people, simply reviewing their notes is not enough to master information; they must utilize active study methods. One such strategy is to draw diagrams or charts to represent relationships between ideas. You can also make flash cards to review regularly. If you are provided with a study guide, complete the guide and use it to guide your study sessions. If you have not been provided a study guide, create your own. It is also a good idea to work through practice problems and old exam questions. In order to check your mastery of the material, cover up your notes and talk through a concept as if you were teaching it.

Study Groups. Another idea that can aid in studying is to create or to participate in a study group. Study groups are proven to provide greater opportunities to ask questions, review material, clarify and discuss information, and encourage a variety of problem solving strategies. They can also help to reduce procrastination, increase motivation, and ease anxiety.

Communication with Professors. The last and potentially most impactful study strategy is to get to know your professors and teaching assistants. They are the experts in the course content who have studied the material themselves. Because of this, they are uniquely positioned to help you develop effective study strategies in a particular content area. The more familiar they are with you and your difficulties with the course content, the more they are able to provide you with targeted support.

Once you implement the above study strategies and determine which strategies best met your unique needs, it is time to take the exam. Next week we will discuss specific test taking strategies to optimize your performance on the assessment.

Note-Taking Strategies

Last week, we talked about reading strategies for the college level.  Note-taking is also an important skill to use while in class and while studying independently.  We suggest taking notes while you read before class and taking notes during lecture.  This will provide you with a study guide of the material when it comes time to review.  The key to effective note taking is to use a system that organizes information in a way that will be helpful to you and there here are many strategies that can be used to achieve this. Below are two note-taking methods that many students find effective.

The Cornell Note-Taking System.  Draw a horizontal line on the bottom of the paper to allow for approximately two inches of space to write a summary.  Draw a vertical line approximately two and a half inches from the left side of the paper to be used as a recall margin.  The remaining large area on the paper is the note-taking area.  Take notes of main ideas, details, important graphs, etc. in the note-taking area, skipping lines between concepts.  Write several questions about the main ideas in the left margin to act as a study guide.  After learning the material well, write a summary of the material in the bottom area.

cornellnotes_Image.png

Image from: University of Maine Fort Kent

Traditional Outline.  You may also choose to make a traditional outline instead.  Even if you decide not to use the Cornell Method, it is still helpful to think of questions about the material, study until you are able to answer those questions, and write meaningful summaries of notes.  When writing notes while reading, you should use your text to guide how you set up your notes.  For example, if your text has headings or sections, it would be helpful to use those headings or sections as headings in your notes.

  • Main Heading

    • Subheading

      • Main Ideas (Important people, Places, Events)

      • Vocabulary Definitions

No matter which method of note-taking you chose to implement, taking comprehensive notes while reading and in class are essential to your success in a post-secondary environment. Next, we will explore additional study skills that are effective for adult students.

Reading at the College Level

Once you have organized yourself (link), your materials (link), and found your optimal study environment (link), the next step is to actually study. In a post-secondary institution, independently reading the assigned content is the first step to preparing yourself for in-class learning and studying for exams.

We highly recommend reading the chapter or assigned reading before attending the lecture that will cover the same topic. Proper scheduling using your syllabus is an important step to make sure that you are able to do this. When you read the material prior to the lecture, it allows you the gain exposure to the information more than once. This is especially important because you must be exposed to information multiple times before it transfers to from your short-term to your long-term memory. If you read the chapter before your lecture, you will have at least three exposures to the material: before the lecture, during the lecture, and during your study time after the lecture. It also allows you the opportunity to solidify new concepts prior to the lecture and develop specific questions to ask during the lecture. Accessing the information prior to the lecture also allows you to process the information with respect to your disability. An example of this would be if you have a reading disability, you are able to listen to an audio recording of the chapter.

When reading advanced level texts, it can be more difficult to read the content, understand the vocabulary, and comprehend the meaning. In order to encourage comprehension, is important to preview the text prior to beginning to read it. When previewing the text, you should read the title and the author’s name and think about the source. Next, skim the Table of Contents to see how the chapter relates to other chapters within the book. Begin by reading the abstract, introduction, and summary or conclusion. Then, read the headings and subheadings while looking at the graphic aids and photographs which will help you to determine the majority of information that will be covered in the chapter. Prior to begin reading, decide which portion is the most important or will be covered by the next lecture and prioritize that part of the chapter.

Below is a list of helpful questions to guide you during the previewing process:

  • Why are you reading this text (i.e. class discussion, background information, exam, or a paper)?

  • How long is this reading?

  • What do graphic aids/photographs tell you?

  • Are there any new terms or concepts?

  • What do I already know about this subject?

  • What you need to know about the text?

  • Turn headings and subheadings into questions and try to find the answers when reading.

Then, decide how much you are going to read, read that portion, and take a quick mental break. Before moving on to the next section, it is essential that you are able to answer the questions that you generated prior to reading. If you are unable to answer the questions, then you should reread the section until you have a thorough understanding. If a particular topic proves difficult for you, it is also appropriate to ask your previewing questions during the lecture.

Taking notes while reading can increase comprehension and improve your retention of information. Next week, we will discuss the importance of note taking and methods for taking effective notes.

 

Finding Your Optimal Study Environment

Now that you have your schedule and materials organized to set you up for success, it is time to consider your environment.  Many people underestimate the importance of their study space, but where you study is important to facilitate learning and reviewing the materials that are necessary for your classes.   While some people can concentrate well under almost any circumstance, the majority of students need a specific type of environment to foster good study habits.

When you identify study time in your schedule (link), you should also identify where this will take place.  If you have thought of all of the places that meet your needs beforehand, you should never be stuck if plans change or a space is unavailable.  The following are all things you should consider in choosing your optimal study environment.

Visual Distractions.  Some areas of your home, school, and community are busier than others.  You should consider the amount of activity happening in different environments and whether you can maintain your attention.  For some, it doesn’t bother them if people are walking by.  Others may look up at every person as they walk past.  Decide whether having activity around you is distracting or not.

Noise.  Noise is also an important factor to consider in planning your study environment.  Some students have better focus in areas without background noise, while others aren’t bothered by it.  For example, if you go to a coffee shop, you know that there will likely be background conversations as people order their coffee and talk with their friends.  Noise isn’t only caused by other people.  It can also be the radio, TV, or construction happening outside.  As you work in different environments, be mindful of your concentration and how it is affected by different noise levels.  Once you know how your body responds, you will have a better idea of what to look for in a study space.

Temptations.  Even if you have set up a study area that is best for you, sometimes temptations get the best of us.  It is easy to watch TV, talk on the phone, or get involved in your favorite activities if they are readily available to you while you study.  If you often find yourself getting involved in other activities while you should be studying, you may wish to study outside of the home to reduce potential distractions.

Physical Comfort.  How you feel within the environment is another important component in choosing your ideal study area.  If you constantly feel uncomfortable, it is hard to stay focused.  Choose spaces that have tables and chairs that meet your needs.  Also, consider whether the area has adequate lighting.  For example, it might be difficult to read somewhere that has dim lighting.  Air temperature is another consideration.  If you feel too hot or too cold, it will keep you from focusing on the task at hand. Finally, if you are a student who, whether for health reasons or for comfort, prefers to eat or drink while studying, find an area that allows food and drink in their facility.

Flexibility.  After you take a mindful approach to see how you react to different environments when studying, it will be easy to come up with a list of places that match your preference.  Remember to be flexible.  What works for you as an individual might not work if you change your study approach.  For example, you will likely have different needs if you are working with a partner or group.

Planned Breaks. Everyone has different capacities for concentration.  While working in an environment that suits you best will help sustain your focus, it is also important to recognize our individual differences.  Plan breaks as needed.  Two ways to plan a break is either by time or activity completion.  For example, if you find you can only concentrate for a half hour, schedule in purposeful break for every 30 minutes of studying.  If you find it is easier to take a break after completing a task, break up your reading, notes, or assignments into meaningful sections and take a break after your complete each one.

Now that we have covered what you can do to organize your time, materials, and space, we will be shifting to strategies to address specific skills you will need as you work your way through your post-secondary career.  Join us next time!

Everything in Its Place: How to Organize Your School Materials

Now that you have your schedule organized, it’s time to think about how to organize your materials.  There’s no one “right” way to do it; you may need to try multiple different strategies and choose the one that works best for you. 

Color Coding.  Color coding can be helpful to make sure you bring the right materials to class.  One way to use the color coding organizational strategy is to assign each course a color.  This means that the book, notebook, binder etc. that you need for each course would be one color.  You can look at your text book cover as a guide of which color to use, or you can use book covers.  If you are disorganized or distracted, it is much easier to pick up every blue item than make a mental list of everything you might need for history class, for example.

All-In-One Approach. While many people find color coding materials helpful, others still have difficulty remembering to bring all of the required supplies even if they are color coded.  If that is the case, it is often easier to keep everything in one large binder.  The challenge here is to make sure that the binder is well organized with specific sections for each course.  It may still be helpful to color code the sections within the binder to foster organization and separation of course materials.  Additionally, it is usually helpful to have small spiral notebooks in each course section for notes.  This keeps all of your notes together and in order. 

Organizing Your Binder.  You will either have multiple smaller binders if you are using one for each class, or one larger binder if you are using a single one to hold all course material.  You should put your syllabus in a protective sleeve in the front of each binder or section.  Next, you should have a color coordinated spiral notebook to keep your notes organized.  Following the notebook, you should insert any in-class handouts so that you can easily access them.

Bag. Many students carry their materials to class, but it may be better to have a well-organized bag.  This will allow you to make sure you have all of the small materials you need like pens, highlighters, calculators, etc.  If you keep them in a specific spot in your bag, you won’t have to remember to take any additional supplies with you.  You will just have to change out the binder and books you need.

Once you find an organizational system that works for you, stick to it and try your best to keep your binders and bags neat.  It can be very easy to simply put papers or notes into your bag or in a book, but the care that you take following your system will save you a lot of time looking for things you need but have lost in the future.  For our next blog post, we will address finding or creating an environment that fosters productivity.

Project Management: How to Keep Procrastination at Bay

As we saw last week, having a system to manage our time is very important.  But if you often find yourself putting off tasks, you likely will not see the benefits.  Consistent procrastination can make situations more stressful than they need to be, and that ultimately can affect your ability to learn and recall class materials.  However, the following steps can make completing assignments and other tasks more manageable. 

Preview.  The first step of project management is to preview your assignment.  You will scan your syllabus or assignment directions to get an idea of what you need to do.  It is important to preview instructions as soon as you get them.  This will allow you to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something, as well as allow yourself enough time to complete the work.

Plan.  Once you have a good understanding of the assignment, you should break the assignment into logical and manageable goals.  While you can do this mentally, it can also be helpful to write a list.  Read through your list and prioritize the order in which goals need to be completed.  This visual representation will help keep you on track and make the assignment seem less overwhelming. 

Schedule.  This is where you should decide about how long each task will take and enter it into your scheduling system.  Having a set time to complete the tasks will minimize your tendency to procrastinate.  Try your best to be realistic about your timeline- it’s better to schedule too much time to complete a task than not enough.

Follow-Through.  Once you have done the previous steps, it is time to actually complete your tasks.  Follow your schedule as closely as possible.  It is important to give yourself time and space conducive to work.  If you’re still having trouble holding yourself accountable, schedule work times with classmates or tutors.

Rewards.  You should be proud of working hard to complete each step.  Many times, completing each step will make you feel more confident about your skills and interested in the assignment.  But at times it is hard to feel motivated.  If that’s the case, give yourself small rewards for completing different steps.  This could be scheduling time to do something you really enjoy in your free-time, making a phone call to a close friend, or buying yourself a small reward.

Flexibility.  While it is important to try to stick to your plan, sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you anticipated.  If you have given it an honest effort, you might need to make some changes with your plan or scheduling to better meet your needs.

Time and project management are essential components to success in the post-secondary setting.  Join us next time to learn more about other organizational skills that can help you achieve in your learning environment.

Time Management for Students

Managing time effectively can be one of the most challenging parts of being a student, especially when you consider all of the responsibilities confronting adult students. However, how you manage your time is one of the only aspects of college that you have total control over. Effective time management is the single most important empowerment tool for the overburdened college student. When determining how to most effectively manage your time, the following considerations are imperative.

The first step in taking control of your time is to find a specific time management system that works for you. Every effective time management system must have consistent schedule, which will allow you to save time, keep appointments, and gain a visual representation of your commitments. Although initially setting up a schedule/system may be time consuming, the long term time savings will be worth it. Having a calendar allows you to visually conceptualize your week, understand where you have pockets of time, and when you’ll be pressed for time. Your time management system must be written. If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist.

The two most popular time management systems are either a digital time management system or a paper time management system, and it is essential to take into consideration your time management strengths and weaknesses while choosing your program. Many apps can be utilized to assist with time management which include: Google Calendar, Google Keep, and Remind 101.

Whether you chose a digital system or a paper system, the first thing that needs to be scheduled into your system is your class time. These blocks of time should include any commuting time that it will take you to get to and from your class. Then, schedule in work obligations and necessary activities of daily living such as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Following those main blocks of time, you should schedule study time for yourself. For each hour in class time, you should be spending 2 hours studying/preparing. Conclude by adding your free time, social activities, and family obligations. Remember to include activities that you enjoy as rewards for keeping to your schedule.

When scheduling your study time, be honest about your concentration. If you know your concentration diminishes after an hour, do not schedule yourself for a four-hour, no-break study session. Based on your knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses, build in reasonable breaks between and during study sessions. Engaging in physical movement during these scheduled breaks can increase concentration when you return to studying.

You must also plan for the short-term and the long-term. Focusing on one aspect at the expense of the other can lead to scheduling conflicts and forgotten obligations. Not only should your schedule include daily classes and study sessions, you also need to consider long-term projects and papers. Start by looking at your syllabus to determine what projects/papers are going to be time consuming and will be a large part of your overall grade for the course. Take the time to break those assignments down into reasonable steps and establish deadlines for each step. This will help decrease the last-minute rush to complete your projects. Having them completed early will also allow you to get feedback from you professor prior to turning it in for a grade. Also allow time in your schedule to make appropriate edits based on others’ feedback.

There are a few common pitfalls that you want to be sure to avoid, especially when you first implement a time management system. Don’t take too much time to plan out your study schedule for the week. If your system of time management is too time consuming, chances are you are using this method of “time management” as a means of procrastination. Stick to your system. This does not mean become totally inflexible. Make sure your system can handle those unforeseen circumstances that affect us all.

Ultimately, the goal in managing your time is to put yourself in control. Following these simple strategies can help you to manage all of the responsibilities that adult students face. If you are struggling with creating or maintaining a time management system, the student Disability Services or Student Accessibility Services staff can help you to define your priorities and create an effective time management system. Join us next we as we discuss strategies to help stave off procrastination.

Assistive Technology

As we have been discussing in our most recent posts, accommodations, services available at your postsecondary institution, and private services can all be helpful in addressing the needs associated with your disability.  Another support comes in the form of assistive technology.  Assistive technology is a piece of equipment or product system that you can use to increase, maintain, or improve your functional capabilities.  If you have accommodations through a Section 504 Plan, assistive technology may be included as an accommodation.  Your Accessibility Office should be able to provide you access to some assistive technology.  You may also wish to invest in assistive technology of your own.  Below we will discuss common assistive technology tools that may be able to help you improve your performance as an adult student.

Reading Software.  If you have a disability that affects your reading skills, you will likely benefit from having access to reading software.  This is most helpful when you are able to read along with the text while you listen the audio recording.  Common examples of reading programs are:

  • Kurzweil3000.  This is a cloud-based services for reading.  Many colleges and universities can provide you free access to this program or other similar ones if you have a Section 504 Plan.
  • Learning Ally.  A collection of more than 75,000 digitally recorded textbooks and literature titles in audiobook format.
  • Google Read and Write.  An application that will work for the majority of webpages through Google Chrome. It includes text-to-speech, dictionary, translator, and word predictions.

Writing Software.  If you have a disability, you may wish to seek out assistive technology that addresses your written expression and spelling .  These could include:

  • Grammarly.  This application corrects grammatical mistakes, while also correcting contextual spelling errors and poor vocabulary usage. Grammarly can be useful in combination with a voice-to-text program, such as Dragon Speaking Naturally, in order to catch grammatical errors or determine the appropriate work usage in context.
  • Spelling and grammar checks on your word processing program, such as Word.  If you have a Section 504 Plan to address this area of need, you will likely be able to type in-class assignments and assessments.
  • Dictation.  You may also find dictation will aid you in your writing tasks.  Dictation programs change voice to text so that you can speak what is being written on your word processing program.  Dragon is one company that produces widely used speech recognition programs.

Audio Recording.  Being able to record your lecture can address many needs such as writing, processing speed, and attention deficits.  Check with your institution’s Accessibility Office to learn more about your school’s recording policies.

  • Most phones now have the ability to record.  This may be less obtrusive than other recording tools.
  • Smartpens.  A Smartpen is a pen you can use to write notes that also records audio.  Depending on the type of pen you get, you can transfer your notes with audio to your computer.  Livescribe is one company that produces a variety of smartpens.

Organizational Apps.  If you have a disability that affects your memory or organizational skills, you may find organizational tools helpful. 

  • Write your schedule in your calendar app.
  • Set reminders and alarms for complete tasks.
  • Google Keep.  Google Keep is an app that allows you to make notes to yourself, set reminders, and keep checklists in an organized way.

The information above are just a few of many of the assistive technology available to you.  As technology continues to advance, we are able to seamlessly integrate assistive technology into our lives to meet areas of need we may experience.  Now that we have covered services and technology to help you in your postsecondary career, we will be focusing on strategies you can implement to help you have success as an adult student.

Private Supports for Adult Students

In our previous blog, we discussed the supports that you can access at a postsecondary educational institution. Services, such as accommodations through a Section 504 Plan (link), must go through the Disability Services or Student Accessibility Services office.  Many postsecondary organizations also provide additional supports that all students can access (link), such as the writing center or counseling center.  There are also many services offered privately within the community. Typically, private services may be closer to the direct instructional services that you received as part of your IEP.

Private Tutoring. There are many different types of tutoring that are provided privately; however, they typically fall into two general categories.

  • General Academic Tutoring. The first type of tutoring for adult students is general academic tutoring. General academic tutoring provides overall coaching on study skills that can have an impact on multiple subject areas and enhance learning outcomes. They may provide you with general learning skills, study skills, test taking skills, tools for homework and assignment completion, brainstorming, editing, and accountability to ensure assignments are completed in a timely manner.
  • Subject-Specific Tutoring. Subject-specific tutors fall into two categories. The first category work with students in a specialized academic subject, such as chemistry, psychology, or physics. This type of tutoring focuses on current work in the specific subject area of the tutor’s expertise. The second category of tutors work with individuals who have deficits in specific foundational skill areas such as reading, written expression, or math that impact global educational functioning. The most common deficit is in the area of reading, which impacts the learner’s ability to achieve across all subjects areas. There are many research-based programs that have been proven to help individuals build their skills in the area of reading. At Achievement Advantage, we provide Wilson Reading System tutoring to support and build reading skills for both K-12 and adult students.

Executive Function Coaching. Executive functions are the self-management system of the brain. Many individuals with ADHD and other related diagnosis have weak executive functioning skills that make it difficult in the college environment. Executive function coaching focuses on teaching specific strategies and tools to improve sustained attention, organization/time management, planning, task initiation, task completion, self-monitoring, and emotional regulation. Mastering these skills has a positive impact on educational, occupational, and social functioning.

Private Therapy. Some students may wish to forego the counseling center at their university or may not have counseling services available to them at the school they attend. In these cases, private therapeutic services may be beneficial. When seeking private therapeutic services, the individual has the ability to choose a therapist that specializes in your specific diagnosis or needs.

Private Evaluation. Another service that adult learners may wish to seek privately is a comprehensive evaluation. Many adults seek private evaluation when they begin to struggle to master the content in a postsecondary setting that may reveal an undiagnosed learning disorder. Other adults seek a private evaluation in order to clarify a previous diagnosis that they feel may be incorrect or need updated documentation to substantiate the presence of a disability. Moreover, some adults may seek an evaluation to provide updated recommendations for accommodations and specific intervention services to address the educational needs that they have.

Knowing all of your service options and seeking the appropriate supports is essential for individuals transitioning from K-12 to adult educational options. When both public and private services are combined, students with disabilities succeed at postsecondary institutions at high rates. Next time we will discuss assistive technology that can further aid adult learners with disabilities succeed beyond high school.

 

 

Additional Supports for Adult Students

Last week we shared information about accommodations students with disabilities might need in a postsecondary setting.  While a Section 504 Plan is designed to help you better access the curriculum, you may still find that additional services are required to meet your needs.  Many career centers, colleges, and universities offer a variety of supports that all students can access. 

Disability Services.  In order to obtain accommodations, you will need to contact the office that supports students with disabilities.  They will be able to inform you about their process for requesting accommodations.  They may also have additional services available to you such as on-going meetings with their staff, workshops, or access to assistive technology.  They will also be able to make recommendations about where to find additional services you may need.

Counseling Center.  All students have access to the counseling center, but if you have a disability that affects your mental health, the counseling center can be an invaluable resource.  Most counseling centers have a variety of counselors who specialize in different areas of mental health. 

Medical Center/Clinic.  If you have a disability that affects your health or you need to take medication to address symptoms of a diagnosis, clinics are staffed by doctors and nurses.  In the event that they are unable to meet your needs, they will be able to make an appropriate referral to another professional in the area.

Writing Center.  Writing centers are widely offered in many educational settings.  Staff members will be able to help you at all stages of your writing, depending on your needs.  They can help at the planning, writing, and editing stages.

Academic Departments.  If you are having difficulties in a certain subject area, you should consider speaking with the administrative assistant of that department.  Often times, they may have formalized tutoring hours that you can attend.  If not, they may know of other students who volunteer as tutors.

Communicating with Professors.  While professors are not responsible for providing remediation instruction, they are required to have office hours and are able to answer questions and provide guidance.  If you did not do well on an exam or assignment, make time to meet with your professor and ask them about how you can do better in the future.  If you have an upcoming test, you can ask questions about topics you still are unclear about.  Or if you have an assignment coming due, they can ensure that you are on the right track.  In all cases, when you meet with your professor, you should come prepared.  This means that you should already be doing the work, whether that’s having begun studying or started upcoming assignments, so that you have specific questions. 

While accommodations and other services provided by postsecondary services are necessary and helpful, sometimes adult students need additional services to help them be successful in school and other areas of life.  For the next blog, we will focus on private services students with disabilities may wish to seek outside of their educational organization.

Accommodations for Adult Students

In a previous post, we shared about the differences you will likely see between services and accommodations a student might receive in the K-12 and postsecondary settings.  While students in a college or vocational setting will not be provided direct services to remediate learning deficits like they would with an IEP in the K-12 setting, students with disabilities still have rights that will protect them at the postsecondary level.  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act makes it clear that “no otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States…shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”  While an IEP and the services it ensures does not continue once you graduate from high school, under Section 504 an individual with a disability is defined as someone with a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities.  If you are a student with a disability, your postsecondary institution must provide reasonable accommodation to address your specific disability.  The accommodations you may receive will be linked to your areas of need.  Below are a variety of common accommodations that are frequently used by students with disabilities.  It is important that you meet with the person responsible for providing services to students with disabilities at your educational setting.  They will be able to give you more information about all of the accommodations and services they can offer.

Classroom Accommodations

  • Depending on your disability, you will likely need accommodations within the classroom setting.  These may include:
  • Copy of notes.  This may come in the form of a copy of the teacher’s slides or a copy of notes taken by another student in the class.
  • Assistive technology.  This may include things like typing written responses instead of hand writing them to allow you to spell check them.  You may also be able to audio record class lectures.
  • Preferential seating.  This could vary depending on the type of disability you may have.  For example, if you have visual, hearing, or attention issues related to your disability, you may prefer to sit nearest to the point of instruction.  If you experience anxiety or have a medical diagnosis that might require you to leave the room if you are experiencing symptoms, you might prefer to sit near the end of the row closest to the door.
  • Breaks as appropriate.
  • Extra time to complete in-class assignments. This accommodation may be provided if it takes you longer to complete tasks based on your disability.

Testing Accommodations

  • Taking assessments in a reduced distraction environment.
  • Extra time on assessments.  For most disabilities, postsecondary organizations typically allow an additional 50% to complete assessments.
  • Read aloud.  Tests may be read allowed to students who have significant reading deficits or visual impairments. 
  • Typing written responses.
  • For the next blog, we will share about additional services that postsecondary organizations may offer and how to find private services if you need additional supports.

Addressing Unhelpful Thinking Styles: A Coping Strategy for Students Experiencing Anxiety

We are pleased to welcome Katie D’Fantis to the Achievement Advantage Blog.   Katie is an LPC, a board certified music therapist, and an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) clinician who works with teens and adults. She specializes in helping those who struggle with relationship issues, anxiety, and issues of self worth that stem from adverse life events such as grief/loss, abuse, and other traumatic experiences.  You can learn more about Katie's experience and services she offers, by visiting The Balanced Living Center's website.

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You can often hear me ask my clients “Where do you feel [that emotion] in your body?” And very often when the emotion they’re feeling is anxiety, my clients say they feel it in their head like “a dark cloud” or “a tornado” or like “static on a television set”. If you have ever struggled with anxiety, then you know that anxiety clouds your thoughts, perceptions and beliefs about yourself, others, and your experiences within the world. I have heard countless stories from my clients who are students and/or professionals about how these unhelpful ways of thinking have gotten in the way of their school work, preparing for a test or presentation, trying something new, or going out with friends on the weekend. As we embark on a new school year - a time when anxiety can run high - I want to share with you a tool that I find myself teaching almost every one of my clients at some point in our work together.

Below is a list of Unhelpful Thinking Styles. These are unhelpful ways of thinking that we all use from time to time and you may find that there are a select few that you use more often. Here are the steps to using this as a coping skill to develop more helpful ways of thinking:

Read
Read through the left column and take note of which unhelpful thinking styles you have used in the past/noticed yourself using presently. Become familiar with the ones you use most often.

Notice
Over the next week, just notice when you use an unhelpful thinking style. You will most likely notice you’ve used it after the fact; this is completely normal and is a step in the right direction!

Name It
Once you’ve noticed it, name the unhelpful thinking style. Just naming it and calling it what it is helps to diminish its power in the moment. For example, “I’m totally going to bomb this test! ...oh wait, that was me jumping to conclusions. I always do that before a big test, don’t I?!”

Work To Change It
Now it’s time to familiarize yourself with the right column of the page. These alternative responses are the ideal/more positive ways of thinking.  Over time and with continued work to improve your self-awareness, you’ll become better at noticing when you use these unhelpful thinking styles. Then you can work to change them by substituting the unhelpful thought with the alternative responses. Or, better yet, you’ll be able to anticipate the unhelpful thought, stop it before it happens, and the alternative responses will become your default way of thinking.

Wood, J.C. (2010).  The cognitive behavioral therapy workbook for personality disorders: A step-by-step program.  Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Wood, J.C. (2010). The cognitive behavioral therapy workbook for personality disorders: A step-by-step program. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Mastering these steps will take practice. Don’t forget to have compassion for yourself and to be patient. Think about it this way, you’ve likely spent years perfecting these unhelpful styles as your default, so naturally it would take time to change your default way of thinking. Practice makes permanent.

Wishing you all a successful start to the school year!

Self-Advocacy: A Crucial Skill for Individuals with Disabilities

Jennifer Bolander is a special education advocate and owner of Education Advocacy Services LLC, an independent advocacy business based on the west side of Cleveland. She has written advocacy articles for “The Gathered View” (national newsletter of The Prader-Willi Syndrome Association (USA), and “Support Matters” (newsletter for Rare Support, a newly-formed non-profit providing resources and support for the rare disease community). Ms. Bolander has completed advocacy training through Wrightslaw, the Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys, and the Institute for Special Education Advocacy at William & Mary College of Law.

When a young child is diagnosed with a disease or syndrome which affects his/her education to the extent that they are eligible for an IEP, or they receive accommodations through a formal 504 plan, their path through their school years is helped along by a team of people: their parent(s), therapists, teachers, the school psychologist, and possibly members of their private medical team. These adults are advocating for them, on a regular basis, regarding their particular needs in the educational or medical setting. As a result, it is often the case that they don’t (or aren’t always given the opportunity to) advocate for themselves on a regular basis. However, there will come a point when that child has finished with their education years with their school district, and will then need to know how to advocate for themselves.

Self-advocacy is not an instinctive skill – it has to be taught, explained, and practiced in various settings. Teaching self-advocacy skills must start long before the child is “on their own” at whatever age/level, because advocating for oneself effectively takes practice. While the ultimate self-advocacy responsibility falls on the individual, as they will be the person communicating their needs to college staff and/or workplace management, there are nevertheless multiple parties involved in teaching self-advocacy skills to young adults: the student, their parent(s), school staff personnel, and employers.

The Student:

By the time they are young adults, graduating high school and/or transitioning out of the school-district “cocoon”, the student should be relatively comfortable with advocating for their own needs, so that they can be as independent as is safely possible. Specifically, this means that the individual

  • Should have as comprehensive an understanding of their disability as possible.
  • Should have a comprehensive understanding of the specific challenges they experience as a result of their disability.
  • Should know which disability-based challenges affect specific settings (i.e., some challenges will happen more in one setting than another, whereas other challenges may not be an issue).
  • Should have an understanding of 2-3 specific sources of support – specific professionals in each setting to turn to for direction and help (job coach, CCBDD support person, parent, manager).
  • Should have had a great deal of practice in using appropriate “advocacy language” to verbalize their specific issue as well as specific solutions to that issue.
  • If appropriate from a maturity/cognitive ability perspective, the student should also be taught that as a disabled individual, they have certain automatic protections through Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Parent(s)

  • It is imperative that parents teach and encourage self-advocacy skills with their child starting in their child’s pre-teen years (or earlier). This is necessary not only because it will take time and practice for their child to thoroughly learn good self-advocacy skills, but also so that their child can support their own safety and privacy needs as they are in social situations throughout high school and beyond. It is crucial that young students with specific environmental, social, and psychological needs, become well-versed in what those specific needs are and how best to verbalize those needs in a polite but firm way.
  • Parents will need to get out of the habit of talking to school staff for their student in every single situation. It often happens that an upsetting situation will occur at school, and the student will come home and tell their parent about it. The parent then calls up to the school (or emails) and discusses the situation with the teacher. While in some cases this is fine, this potentially takes a self-advocacy opportunity away from their child – and may not ultimately solve the situation as the parent was not present during that situation anyway. The parent, the student, and the student’s primary school staff person need to discuss and agree on a set of actions the student will take while still at school, to work through upsetting situations and advocate for themselves. The student needs to be empowered to work through their problems and seek out assistance from relevant staff who will in turn support that student’s self-advocacy efforts.
  • Parents will need to educate themselves about legal guardianship. Once their child turns 18, that child (regardless of cognitive level, mental ability, physical ability to care for themselves) is considered a legal adult. In that situation, a parent’s rights to advocate for their child’s needs in any setting may be questioned. While self-advocacy is a crucial skill for every individual with any disability, it is still important that the topic of guardianship be fully explored and discussed so that parents and child have a solid plan.

School Personnel: Teachers, Therapists, Counselors, School Psychologists

  • An important aspect of encouraging a student’s self-advocacy efforts is that the school personnel who interact regularly with that student must be informed about, and be supportive of, that student’s overall self-advocacy goal. It is a learning process to know which issues are truly a problem, and the right ways and times to talk to someone about that issue – thus, school personnel should take each situation seriously and work through it with the student. It does not benefit the student at all to have their efforts disregarded and not taken seriously, after they’ve been told that they need to practice self-advocacy.
  • The student’s self-advocacy plan should be communicated to all relevant school personnel, so that staff members respond appropriately when the student is using their advocacy skills. This effort to keep everyone informed necessitates that the self-advocacy “action pathway” be written down, so that both the student and the staff are following the same plan.
  • Should the student choose to pursue further education at a college or university, both the student and his/her parents should have multiple, comprehensive discussions with the guidance/transition counselor about the following important detail: The IEP does not follow the student into higher education; instead, the student’s needs are accommodated through a formal 504 plan. It is crucial that the student and their parents understand how a 504 plan helps disabled students function and learn in a higher-education setting. The Counselor must also teach the student how to contact the Disability Services office on the campus of their chosen school; the student will need that information as a source of assistance, especially because the student will have multiple professors who will need to be informed each semester about the student’s required accommodations. Part of being an effective self-advocate is knowing how to find the appropriate help!

Employers

  • Individuals with disabilities have certain protections in the work setting as well, specifically through the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. As students with disabilities transition out of school-district services and into work life, they will generally be supervised to varying degrees by a job coach, who would ensure that the individual is treated fairly and has appropriate accommodations in the work environment. However, if questions arise, a good resource is Disability Rights Ohio, a nonprofit protection-and-advocacy agency: http://www.disabilityrightsohio.org/programs.
  • Individuals with disabilities must have a self-advocacy action pathway for the workplace, just as they had in the school setting. They will need to learn what their specific needs are in that workplace (more time to process directions, written task lists, lots of encouragement, a consistent plan of 1-2 people to whom they can go for help), and to whom they should go when those needs are not being met or something upsetting has happened.
  • However, even with the help of a job coach, and local/state agencies specializing in disability rights, it is still imperative that individuals with disabilities are taught from a young age about their daily challenges and the supports they need to succeed.

The ability to effectively and appropriately advocate for oneself is a crucial, life-long skill which needs to be taught, learned, practiced and supported.  The learning process involves not only the individual with disabilities, but also their support team – their parents, IEP/504 team members, school guidance counselors, staff from local agencies participating in his/her transition process, Disability Services staff at a college/university. It is my sincere hope that this article has helped readers on their or their child’s path to effective self-advocacy!

The Difference Between K-12 and Postsecondary Services for Individuals with Disabilities

As more and more students with disabilities are accessing postsecondary educational options, the need for information and services beyond high school continues to grow. The first step in accessing those services is to understand the similarities and differences in services between K-12 and postsecondary education.  The key lies in the laws that regulate those services.

Similarities Between K-12 and Postsecondary Education

The similarity between K-12 and postsecondary educational settings is that all individuals with disabilities are entitled to accommodations. These accommodations are guaranteed under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which aim to level the playing field between those with and without disabilities. These laws cover individuals from birth to death, so these accommodations are available to those in all educational settings and beyond.

Differences Between K-12 and Postsecondary Education

Although all individuals with disabilities are guaranteed accommodations in all educational and occupational settings, individuals with disabilities may only receive direct services to address their deficits during their K-12 experience. This is because services for individuals from ages 3 to 21 are also covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA ensures that those who met eligibility criteria for special education receive direct instruction supports and services to meet goals outlined in their IEP, in addition to any accommodations they may need. This is a higher level of support than what is provided under Section 504 or ADA. In a postsecondary and work settings, only Section 504 and ADA apply, and therefore adults are only promised access to accommodations.  There is no requirement to provide specialized services beyond reasonable accommodations. For our adult clients, this can be quite the transition.

Now that we under have established an understanding of the differences between services in educational settings, we will continue to talk about services in the college or postsecondary level.

The Top 4 Things First Year College Students Worry About

This week, please welcome Natalie Borrell as our next guest blogger.  Natalie is an academic life coach at Life Success for TeensShe works with teens and young adult to teach them skills they will need to be successful in high school and college.  This week, Natalie is sharing about what many first-year college students worry about, along with information they should have as they start college.

Here’s a secret that many recent high school graduates will adamantly deny. They are TERRIFIED about heading off to college. Even though they may pretend to be relaxed and ready, there are likely several things that are weighing heavy on their minds.

The first step to helping your teen handle their anxiety is to be aware of what they really fear about the whole college experience.  Here are a few of the top fears I hear from my clients:

Am I smart enough?
Many teens wonder if they will be able to continue to earn A’s and B’s like they did in high school. Even students who have taken honors and AP classes in high school often worry that they may not be able handle the increased work load that will inevitably come with college level course work. One student recently said to me, “Everyone in college is going to be smart.  What if I can’t compete?”

What your teen needs to know:
The best recipe for academic success in college includes three things: time management, organization, and using your resources (study centers, professor office hours, tutoring, etc.)

What if my roommate is weird?
Moving out of your parents’ home and into a small space with a stranger can be nerve wracking. It’s a great lesson in learning to tolerate other people’s differences. My freshman year roommate ate onions like they were apples. I learned to live with the smell.

What your teen needs to know:
Compromise is key. They will need to find a way to respect each other’s space and needs. It’s good to remember that Resident Assistants are trained to help work out any roommate differences.

What if I get homesick?
Missing your family and your dog is completely normal. Many teens worry that they won’t adjust well to college life and will end up coming home. One of my clients set up a weekly Skype date with her parents and siblings. She knew she could call them anytime, but looked forward to her set aside weekly family time.

What your teen needs to know:
It’s ok to have some bad days and want to go home. It can be helpful to fill your time with activities that make you happy. Try taking a workout class, joining a club, or playing an intermural sport. The more connected you are to other people, the stronger your support system will be. If the homesick feelings don’t go away, make sure you talk to a friend, your Resident Assistant, or go to the counseling center for some extra support.

How am I going to pay for all of this?
In addition to the cost of tuition, your teen needs to eat, purchase books, and have some extra spending money. Where does all of that money come from? How to get money, how to spend it, and how to have enough to last are all important skills they will need to learn.

What your teen needs to know:
Cheaper meals, books, and entertainment do exist. Make sure you shop around for deals, use coupons, and seek out free activities. Look for a part time job that would allow you to study at work. Don’t open up multiple credit cards. The free blanket isn’t worth it.

A Counselor's Take on Depression in Adult Students

We are excited to introduce our first guest blogger, Lauren O’Brien, a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor who works with older children through adult clients at Lifestance/PsychBC in Fairlawn, Ohio.  While she works with many clients with a variety of needs, Lauren specializes in treating clients with depression and anxiety.  You can learn more about her background and services by visiting her Facebook page or her Psychology Today page.  We hope you find her insight helpful!

“Where does depression hurt?  Everywhere.”  I think about this commercial when working with clients because, although the verbiage seems cliché, it is quite true.  Even though the commercial may be talking about everywhere in regards to the physical body, when working with my clients we discuss how “everywhere” can refer to many facets of life.  For the sake of this blog post, let’s use school and work.  Depression is often a vicious cycle of minimal motivation, disinterest in self-care or hygiene, withdrawal, decrease in self-esteem or self-worth, and the cycle continues. 

Let’s put this into play with a fictional student named Rob.  Rob has low self-esteem and recently has been experiencing depressed mood.  He has not been feeling well and has minimal motivation to do ADL’s, or activities of daily living. Rob has skipped his morning shower for the last few days, and this morning is disgusted with his greasy hair and unpleasant body odor.  He normally plays softball in a recreational league on Tuesdays and Thursdays but has felt that the past two weeks the team is better off without him.  He has turned down many opportunities over the last two weeks to spend time with friends and has begun to miss classes at his university.

Using the example of Rob, it appears he struggled with depressed mood and ultimately it affected his self-esteem, relationships, school status and probably several other facets of his life.  I can only imagine that if Rob’s cycle would continue without help, it would continue to hinder social interactions, hygiene, relationships and jeopardize his status as a student at his university. Depressive thoughts can contribute to irrational thought processes, and those thoughts can trigger emotions and behaviors. In therapy, I like to use thought logs to assist in challenging irrational beliefs.  A thought log looks something like this:

  1. Event: Received F  on Test
  2. Thought: I'm the stupidest person that has ever existed
  3. Consequence (Emotion or Behavior): Embarrassment, Sadness, Shame, Withdrawal from Classes
  4. Alternative Response: OK- I bombed that test.  How can I better prepare myself for next time?

I challenge my clients by utilizing an exercise like this in daily life to help alter thought processes. 

Coping skills can assist in diminishing symptoms. Some of the coping skills that I recommend to clients are keeping a schedule, exercising, journaling, staying involved with friends and family members, and reaching out to a trusted person when the thoughts get the best of you.

I feel there are times in every student’s life where they may experience symptoms of depression; that does not necessarily mean this student has a depression diagnosis but is experiencing depressive symptoms.  Even if you don’t have a diagnosis, it is important to seek out the support you need.  Partnering with a mental health provider can often help you work through periods of depressed mood.  Most postsecondary education institutes have counseling centers that provide services, or you may prefer to find a counselor in a private practice setting.  If you do have a diagnosis, you can visit your institution’s Accessibility Office, who can help you secure appropriate accommodations.  Your mental health provider will be able to write them a letter including information about how your diagnosis impacts your life and what supports you need to be a successful student.

Depression can become overwhelming and at times can lead to suicidal thoughts or plans.  Sadly, suicide is the second leading cause of death in people aged 15-34 as reported by the Center for Disease Control.  There are resources for students who feel suicidal.  Thanks to Logic, the Grammy nominated artist, the national suicide hotline has become more recognizable.  It is 1-800-273-8255.

If Rob sounds like you or someone you know, there is help.  Should you need further assistance, there are plenty of therapists out there who are willing to help, including myself.  Please know that depression is workable, and with the right support and assistance, you can work through the symptoms.  I’m here for you, you are not alone.

Adult Students

Many people are surprised when we tell them that our school psychology practice has many adult clients.  In fact, at least half of our clients have already completed their K-12 education by the time they see us. 

Why might adults need services to support their learning?  Even though we tend to think of children when we think of students, adults are students too!  And just like children, they have a wide variety of experiences that lead them to seek school psychological services.  Some come to us already having a diagnosis but needing updated assessment and documentation for accommodations.  Others come never having been diagnosed before.  Generally, these students have experienced a lot of struggles in their K-12 experience but, for whatever reason, they never received any special education services or accommodations.  Sometimes these are traditional college students who have even greater difficulties in college.  Others are adults who, because they had such negative learning experiences, go back to school later in life but want to get answers and support to help make their college a better experience.  Other adult students have gotten vocational training but need accommodations to do well on their board exams.  And the list of circumstances in which adult students find themselves is endless.

Many adults need services to facilitate their learning including assessment, tutoring, or mental health supports.  We will be dedicating our future blogs to address topics of interest to our adult learners.  Please check back to learn more about strategies you can implement in the postsecondary setting and resources that can support you.  We will also be inviting guest bloggers to share about their areas of expertise.