Colleges are required by law to provide accommodations to students who qualify. Here, six students in the Eye to Eye mentoring network share accommodations that helped them succeed in college. (Also, be sure to look at this list of college supports and services to see what else may be available.)
A quiet, distraction-free room to take exams
In Pixar’s movie Up, there’s a talking dog named Dug. Simple things completely distract him. He’ll blurt out “squirrel!” when he sees one, and drop everything to watch it. Because of , I’m sometimes like Dug. When I take a test in a big lecture hall with a hundred people, every time someone gets up, coughs, or even just shifts, I have a classic Dug “squirrel!” moment. And once something grabs my attention, it’s very difficult for me to shift my focus back to my test. So the accommodation that helped me the most is taking my tests in a quiet, distraction-free room with only a few other students.
— Arthi Selvan, Temple University
A fidget for classes and exams
I’m a very active and rambunctious person, and I get distracted easily. I’m always playing with my hands. An accommodation I worked out with my professors is to have a fidget — something to hold in my hands that helps me focus and concentrate. I actually use a foam duck I got from Eye to Eye. In my public speaking class, my professor let me hold the duck when I was presenting to the class. I’m also allowed to use a fidget during exams, which helps when combined with other accommodations, like extended time and having a quiet room.
— Cole Hendricks, Purdue University
Note-taker in class
Having someone to take notes for me in class allows me to focus more on the lecture. After class, when I get the notes from the note-taker, I can compare them to what I wrote down and see if there is anything different. Often, I’ve missed something because reading the lecture slides and listening to the professor’s voice at the same time isn’t easy. Accommodations like this have helped me understand how I learn best.
— Macey Tam, University of Rochester
Audio recording of lectures
Because of my , I have a hard time taking in information in class. In the past, when it came to exams, I essentially had to teach myself class material by looking at my notes and the textbook. That was very difficult. Now, as an accommodation, I’m allowed to audio record lectures. Having a recording lets me listen to any information that I missed in class. It also gives me a second opportunity to learn at my own pace when reviewing my notes.
— Elizabeth Akel, Lehigh University
Shared Google Docs
One accommodation that helped me succeed was sharing Google Docs with fellow students. For instance, in political science, we had a single shared Google Doc for the class. Everyone had access and could ask questions or add notes to it. The document became a platform for us to talk with anyone in the class and share knowledge. I have ADHD. So sometimes it’s hard to stay organized. I used the shared Google Doc to look up class information and ask questions when I needed clarification.
— Mary Claire O’Malley, University of Colorado–Boulder
Digital calendar and reminders
For someone like me with ADHD, it isn’t always easy to remember simple daily tasks like meetings, classes and assignments. I can be forgetful. I use the digital calendar in my phone as a visual aid so I can see everything that I need to do. I also use the reminder alarm to let myself know when I need to be somewhere or when a task needs to be completed.
— Ryan Wagner, University of Wisconsin–Madison
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About the author
About the author
Eye to Eye, Understood Founding Partner pairs kids with learning disabilities and ADHD with young adults who help them build self-esteem and self-advocacy skills.
Jim Rein, MA has lectured on postsecondary options and summer programs for kids and young adults with learning and thinking differences.