I was wide wake the other morning at 3:30am, unable to get back to sleep. The culprit partly responsible for my insomnia was jetlag (I have just returned from the UK so 3:30am EST was really 8:30am!), but I was also tossing and turning because my daughter has started college this week. She has transitioned from a high school that specializes in students with language-based learning disabilities and boasts of one-to-one tutorials everyday, an average academic class size of 4-8 students, and classes designed to provide individualized, remedial instruction. Now she is in a different academic world. At 18, and as an adult, she must self-identify her disability if she wants to receive any accommodations for it. Her first class is a fast-paced course on the history of Western Art consisting of lectures with 399 other students. No wonder I couldn’t get back to sleep!
With some encouragement and her own determination, my daughter sought out the Academic Resource department between the end of her orientation and the beginning of her academic classes. By providing the appropriate documentation, she was determined to be eligible for accommodations under Federal ADAAA guidelines (more about this in another blog post), but the letter outlining her accommodations that needs to be given to her lecturers will not be ready for a few days. In the meantime, she has had her first class! Having been taught in high school to take notes on her laptop (she finds this particularly beneficial because it helps with her spelling) she came armed with this tool to the auditorium packed with students. I received a text message as she waited for the lecture to begin: “do you think I’m aloud to us my laptop to take notes everyone here has a notepad.” That surprised me. Having completed a masters degrees a few years ago, non-laptop note-takers were in the minority. But, as the lecturer explained in his opening comments, there would be no laptop use unless it was an approved accommodation. So, the laptop was put away. Not only does my daughter need that official accommodation letter to get her accommodations started, but now she needs to get it modified to allows use of a laptop for note-taking. Tomorrow, will require another visit to the Academic Resource department!