It can make the difference between sinking or swimming. It can mean accessing what a student really needs to be successful. It’s about making connections that make issues and concerns resolvable-before they become concerns. It can be hard at first, but with the right approach, can become the absolute best tool for college success. It can feel both empowering and challenging.

Self-advocacy.

Let’s make it our go-to phrase for the year, shall we? In fact, we love it so much that this is the first of three in our 3-part series on self-advocacy. We’ve been talking about it a lot with you recently at conferences, meetings, and transition fairs. You’ve named it in ways like “finding your voice”, and “helping students take steps that are right for them”, and “when students know and can tell others about what they need in order to learn.” We’re all on the same page, here. And as a teacher, disability coordinator, transition specialist, counselor, advocate, or parent, it’s a truly fabulous thing to watch a student take part in. How do you describe it? Where have you seen examples of self-advocacy in action with your students? Please, take a moment and post below in the comments section- we love hearing your stories.

Self-advocacy simply rules the transition process. It’s like a well-paved, new road. It may take a bit of effort to create, but when enacted- even just a little- it can create a pathway for so many good things to follow in a new college setting (there are UNENDING opportunities for self-advocacy in college). Things like...

  • Building social connections that increase the feeling of belonging at a new place (and a sense of belonging leads to persistence in higher education)

  • Making sure extended time is added for a test or quiz

  • Defining and then asking for the right housing placement for increased accessibility or academic success

  • Speaking up (make an appointment with an advisor) when something is not going as planned, rather than taking an oh-so-tempting “wait and see” approach.

And this is just a very small handful of examples of how self-advocacy makes a difference. Stay tuned to our blog and newsletter- we’ll have two more posts on the topic, with useful information and strategies directly from our upcoming self-advocacy toolkit, which will make it’s way to you later this spring (yes, you’ll access parts for free in our blog, so stay tuned!).

Here’s to being empowering advocates for our students’ independence, self-awareness, and self-advocacy. Stay tuned- and give us some of your ideas below!

college student typing at computer (photo credit WOC in Technology)

college student typing at computer (photo credit WOC in Technology)

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