As a teenager, there is a lot of life that you are desperate to experience, but when you have a disability you might feel limited in certain ways. Whether it’s a medical condition that requires you to have more rest than others or a physical disability, that means that you need certain adjustments made for you. The college application process can become even more terrifying when you have to figure out which institutions can accommodate you and your disabilities.
Almost every single college out there we’ll talk about diversity and inclusion, but unfortunately it tends to be an empty echo chamber for many different institutions. You have to be able to decipher which colleges are going to offer you the commercial handrails in the bathroom of your dorm and which colleges are going to be able to put ramps in the building in place. Are they going to put you on the 5th floor with no elevator? Or are they going to see you for more than just your disability and make accommodations that are easier for you? It’s exciting but terrifying to apply for College in general, but here are some of the tips that you need as a disabled student so that you can make sure that you are looked after.
- Identify the colleges that are accessible for you. You’ll never come across a college that tells you that they are not accessible to students with disabilities, but you need to make sure that you’re looking at the red flags.Is the campus full of stairs and no elevator access? Other institutions that rank athletic ability in their application process. You need to think about accessible tours for certain colleges, so call around the ones that you are looking to apply for and find out whether they’re tours are accessible to you. You should also ensure that they have a multicultural affairs team at the institution so that celebrated disabilities are an identity and not just a hindrance to the college.
- It’s OK to say that you’re disabled during the application process. There are some people that will tell you not to disclose your disability on your college applications, but you should. You should not have to hide any part of yourself, so it’s important that you make sure that you look at how you approach the subject itself. Talk about your disability as an enhancement rather than a hindrance, and think about calling ahead to those colleges to find out their disability and inclusion policies first, so that you can word your application around their policies.
- You can still get scholarships. A lot of people will tell you that scholarships are impossible for those with the disability, but it’s not actually the case. There are merit scholarships out there for students with chronic illnesses or disabilities, but it’s more important to call the college directly and ask rather than rely on a Google search.
Your disability does not define you, but it is a part of you and you have to accept that during the college application process.