Hello, I’m Eilidh a young ambassador for Dyslexia Scotland, but I’m also a first year dyslexic student at SRUC. Here’s my experience of support in higher education.
In higher education, things will be completely different from school. For starters, in higher education there is a higher number of students, therefore there will be a higher number of dyslexic students, which means you’re not alone. Secondly, the support you receive will probably be quite different to the support that you received at school. There is plenty of support there, all you need to do is ask. Universities and colleges do not want you to be at a disadvantage from everyone else and they don’t want to see you fail.
The support in higher education can vary, but most places will offer study support, which is basically in place to help you with your studies and get the most out of them. It is a one to one session with someone (usually a member of the support team) who can help you with your work, organisation, planning and offer support. You can also request proof reading – when someone checks all your essays and reports for spelling errors and grammar before you submit them. You can also be funded though SAAS in the form of DSA (disabled students allowance). This allows you to fund any equipment you might need, for example a computer. With exams, the support you could receive can be extra time, use of a computer, a reader or a scribe. If you have been through school exams with support and special arrangements, then it’s pretty similar to that.
A high number of people will often find out that they’re dyslexic at higher education, usually because they’re around different people and because of the demanding workload. If you think you might be dyslexic or are struggling, please tell someone. They can help you get the right support you might need. I know it can be scary to voice that you’re struggling with things, but believe me, you’ll be far better off if you speak to someone. Seeking the right support is definitely going to benefit you in the long run, especially now that there’s so much wonderful technology to help. People will understand why you’re using a computer in lectures or why you’re using a really cool pen that records things. There is less stigma about dyslexia than there was at school. It’s probably because everyone is older and more mature.
My main advice for anyone with dyslexia in higher education is just to enjoy yourself. Don’t let your dyslexia hold you back from getting that really good mark in a report or exam. Be proud that your brain works differently and that you can think outside the box. It might be rough in places and a bit overwhelming – believe me, I have had that experience. But it makes it more rewarding because you had to work that little bit harder, but in the end your degree/qualification will be worth it. Do try your best to be organised – I know that dyslexia can make organisation twice as hard. Be prepared – university and college are probably going to be a lot harder than school, but the support will be there.
College can also be a great place for dyslexic people because of the smaller class sizes. So, don’t let people make you feel bad if you’re not at university. It also means that if and when you go to university, it will be more rewarding because you have taken the long way round.
If it makes you happy then go do it! Do the degree/qualification you want to do!
Some useful links:
A really good video on dyslexia at university/college: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCDc79ZLKoc
A really good site for those going to university or college: http://university.which.co.uk/advice/student-finance/what-learning-support-am-i-entitled-to-if-i-have-dyslexia
Another really good site: http://www.dyslexia-help.org/education-higher.asp
An interesting article: http://www.theguardian.com/education/mortarboard/2013/oct/14/more-support-for-dyslexic-students