By Alicia Seewald (Whetstone staff writer)
It takes junior Amy Maguire twice as long as many other students to finish a homework assignment.
“Sometimes my psychology homework and reading the chapters takes me much longer than a regular person in my class,” Maguire said. “Or even what a normal time of what the professor would expect.”
There is a considerable difference between the stress levels of college students diagnosed with learning disabilities compared to other college students. On top of dealing with the regular stressors of college, students who need help cope with additional aspects their disability creates.
While Maguire is doing her schoolwork, she also struggles to understand what she hears during lectures without help. Because she has a hard time listening, she has a classmate take notes for her.
“I feel like high school doesn’t prepare students for college,” said Christine McDermott, Assistant Director of the Department of Academic Support and Coordinator of Disability Support Services. “They don’t understand that they have to take it upon themselves to get extra help. Just because you’re trying doesn’t mean you are going to pass.”
Many freshmen diagnosed with learning disabilities do not receive accommodations, McDermott said. Freshmen often are too embarrassed or may have gotten through high school well enough to think they can handle college on their own.
Because many of them do, professors don’t realize that some of their students need help.
“Just because they have documentation doesn’t mean their professors know,” McDermott said.
Usually after their first semester, freshmen realize accommodations are extremely helpful and needed for their learning disability.
“There are currently 120 active students,” McDermott said.
The number increases each semester.
“If you can get help, get it,” senior Ryan Gushanas said. “Sometimes you can do things and sometimes you cannot.”
Gushanas, who overcame brain cancer but still has cognitive trouble because of the effects from surgery, receives extended time for tests. Support Services also provides him with a person to take notes in class. When he takes a test, he dictates the answers.
Providing accommodations for classes do not give disabled students an advantage over fellow students.
“I am trying to learn like every other college student at Wesley,” Maguire said. “However, I need to learn in a different way and take longer to accomplish tests. I do not think that my accommodations have any advantage to another student.”