Preparing students with disabilities for college success

Students face many challenges as they approach leaving home and entering college. For those with disabilities and their families, these challenges and other changes (known and unknown) can be much more difficult. College learning disabilities specialist Elizabeth Hamblet addresses these concerns this week (Wednesday, December 5 at 7:00 p.m.) in her presentation “Preparing Students with Disabilities for College.”

This presentation is designed to help both students and parents learn strategies they can put into practice now, whether college is right around the corner or down the road a few years from now. “The transition to college can be a positive experience even with the challenges students with disabilities face,” says Hamblet. “With the proper preparation and knowledge students can engage the opportunities and resources available to help them enjoy success.”???

Hamblet, author of “7 Steps for Success: High School to College Transition Strategies for Students With Disabilities,” is back at the library for her third presentation in recent years. She started her career in special education at a high school in Massachusetts, and then began working at Simmons College in Boston, where her knowledge of the support services available to students expanded. A position at Rutgers University in Disability Services brought Hamblet to New Jersey, and she and her family settled in Princeton. Her career path in higher education led to her current position at Columbia University.??

“When I made my transition from working in a high school to college, I saw things from a different point of view about how students may better achieve success and what they need to do to prepare for college,” says Hamblet. “I saw a gap between students’ expectations for the accommodations they might be able to get and what was available, especially from the perspective of learning support. I also learned that if the students and their families had better-defined expectations that they would be more likely to improve the student’s college experience.”??

The “seven steps,” honed by Hamblet’s presentations and talks, are based on recurring themes developed out of research in the field. Some common themes include adjusting to different timetables and deadlines, as well overall time management issues. For example, students with Attention Deficit Disorder may experience more intense executive functioning disorders and trouble setting priorities. Also, minus the structure of the home and high school environment, accomplishing even general tasks is a greater challenge when living away from home, or for those commuting to college and living at home but experiencing a decrease in familiar boundaries.

What can students and parents expect as the takeaways from the workshop this week? Hamblet will explain how the system for accommodations works at college, describe students’ rights and responsibilities, and share the skills students should develop while in high school to ensure success when they reach college. She will also review some of the laws that dictate how service provision works at college, and the types of accommodations usually granted. She will share information about the documentation students need to apply for accommodations and discuss specific resources that may be available. Parents and students (eighth grade and older) are encouraged to attend. The presentation will be followed by an opportunity for further discussion and time to ask specific questions.

Hamblet is an avid and devoted library patron and says she is delighted to return to PPL in this capacity once again to connect students and their families to share these resources. “My work and family are keeping me really focused right now,” says Hamblet. “But my editor tells me I have a second book in the works!”??

?For more information and resources, students and their families visit Elizabeth Hamblet’s website.

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