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Know How Much Support You Need

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Levels of academic support vary greatly from college to college. You will want to compare them carefully before making a decision. You may need minimal support, or you may need moderate or intensive assistance. Careful investigation of services can be the key to a successful match between your needs and the available services. Use the descriptions below to help you decide the level of support that best suits your needs.

Minimal Support - The responsibility to adapt is all yours!

The college accepts students with disabilities but provides only those supports required by law. All students may access available academic support services, such as tutoring, remedial or developmental classes, writing labs, and study skills courses. There is no designated individual or office to advise you on finding campus resources, to discuss appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services, or to mediate between you and your faculty when problems arise. You are responsible for being your own advocate, for knowing your rights under the law, and for advocating for yourself with instructors and others on campus. Students who do well in these settings are usually confident of their abilities and talents, know how to compensate for their disabilities, have or know how to obtain needed assistive technology, and are bright and well-motivated.

Moderate Support - The campus helps you adjust to the program!

A range of services is available to students with disabilities to help them adjust to campus life. The disability services office coordinates appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services. A disability services counselor advises students, advocates for students with disabilities and works with faculty to help the student obtain appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services as well as assistive technology. You assume responsibility for explaining to faculty your disability and your academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services. On some campuses, the disabilities services office may provide a letter stating the services to which you are entitled. You may have to arrange for tutors, readers, and other services with guidance from the disability services office. You have access to those campus resources (writing labs, remedial courses, learning centers, etc.) available to all students for additional assistance with academic or study skills.

Intensive Support - The program adapts to your needs!

Special programs provide intensive support to prepare you to function independently in classes. Often these programs charge additional fees. You may receive specialized remedial and compensatory instruction to improve your academic, study, and coping skills from trained personnel who can assess your needs and design interventions to help you succeed academically and in daily living activities. Courses, small group instruction, and tutorial sessions prepare you for academic requirements. On-going communication occurs between the program staff and the faculty and residential and other student services staff to facilitate your academic adjustment and support your transition to independent living. Counseling and support groups are available to assist in interpersonal skill development and adjustment to postsecondary education.

Excerpted from Virginia's College Guide for Students with Disabilities (2003 Edition).
Available at