When I was seventeen, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Being the youngest person I know who can’t shake hands without wincing can be tough at times. But I came to college to learn, and by golly I am going to learn despite not being able to hold a pencil some days! And so I have… though I haven’t always gone about it in the smartest way.
Whether you have a physical or learning disability, there are several ways you can cope at Berry:
3. Tough it out (not recommended)
Grit your teeth and bear it. When that boy accidentally slams the door into your hand, you just smile at him through the tears and wish him a merry day. When your ankles are hurting during dance class, just hold your breath and keep pushing. Sure, you could be doing serious damage to your joints or your grades, but no pain no gain, right? (Wrong. Please don’t do this.)
2. Wait till the last minute, then panic (also not recommended, but a testament to awesome professors)
Once upon a time, I was a wee freshman. I woke up the morning of a history test and found my fingers so swollen there was no way I was going to be able to write a whole essay in pen during class. Trembling like a rabbit, I timidly approached my professor’s door about an hour before class, explained the situation and begged him to let me use a laptop for the essay portion of the test. He very graciously made the proper arrangements, and everything worked out.
Sometimes you can avoid doing this. I could have told my professor at the start of the semester that I’d probably need a laptop for tests, but I was too embarrassed. Not being honest about my needs led to a lot of unnecessary stress and panicking.
Sometimes it’s unavoidable, like when you try to carry a huge load of laundry to your car on the way to class and nearly black out on the sidewalk. Either way, Berry professors are usually very understanding and will do what they can to help you out, especially if they know you are working hard despite your difficulties.
1. Talk to Academic Services (highly recommended!)
The people at Academic Services are epic. I’ve been in contact with Martha Van Cise (head of the office) since freshman year, and she is the bomb. If I know I’ll need help ahead of time—like for finals—she can help set up what I need. If I know I’ll be missing class due to health reasons, she’ll contact my professors for me to explain the situation. If anyone on campus ever turned a deaf ear to my just needs, Martha Van Cise would probably grab a broadsword and go to my defense. Seriously, this office is amazing.
After three years of having health problems on top of the regular trials of class and work, I’ve got to tell you there’s nothing wrong in admitting you need help. Particularly not at Berry, where there are so many people eager to be helping you. Don’t try to tough it out. Embrace the best college experience you can have at a school that will fully support you along your journey.