College students with dyslexia, here, offer unique stories. Some humorous, others sad, and many with creative coping strategies. It is refreshing to see how most of them have "blossomed" in college.

For these students, like most, college is a whole new ball game. The umbilical cord is cut-Mom and Dad are no longer local. New terrain is being traversed. The question is how students cope in this new setting and what tools and strategies, if any, they use.

In 47 interviews, I pose the question "Are you asking for special accommodations in college?" That included extended time on tests or exams, extended time on reading assignments, readers, scribes, note takers, books on tape etc. I also ask if they add their own coping strategies, if Dragon NaturallySpeaking (a voice-recognition program) or MicNote Pad (a Mac shareware recording software program) are working as enhancement tools, and if ASL (American Sign Language) is being substituted for a Romance language? Are papers e-mailed home for editing or is the Learning Resource Center replacing mom or dad's proofreading skills?

It turns out most students are asking for special accommodations and many are incorporating their own coping strategies. Attitudes about accommodations and strategies, however, are dependent upon individual character traits, such as how they handle a situation or get through life.

The themes that best categorize their responses are as follows:

1. Conventionalist 3. Independents
2. Low Profilers 4. Pragmatists

Special accommodations go with conventionalists. They work closely with the Learning Resource Center on campus and with academic counselors and tutors, and work less on creating personal strategies. Conventionalists go with the flow, become situated in a zone, and really have no reason-and often no time-to look beyond what is offered, to come up with personalized strategies. Conventionalists, in general, prefer structure and stability.

Low profilers want to lie low. They are light on both special accommodations and coping strategies. These students don't disclose their learning disability, don't associate with the Learning Resource Center, don't ask for special accommodations, and let as few people as possible know about their different learning style. Getting papers edited from home often still is the norm. Low profilers don't want to muddy the waters or raise red flags. Some have been burned, others are scared to show their LD, a few just want to be left to do college as they prefer.

Independents are heavy on personalized coping strategies and light on special accommodations. They don't officially hook up with the Learning Resource Center, but ask for special accommodations on an informal basis, working directly with a professor. Independents tend to be individualistic, prefer flexibility, and are somewhat visionary about the college scene. They prefer to do it their way, and in doing so, utilize their personalized strategies over conventional accommodations on campus.

Pragmatists try to strike a balance between special accommodations and personalized coping strategies (and they do a good job!) The bulk of student responses are here. I refer to them as pragmatists because their attitudes range from "I'll take what's out there at college and then top it with my own strategies," or "I'm on cruise control. I'm comfortable with what's out there, but I like my own way, too." Pragmatists work closely with counselors, proofreaders, note takers, etc., in the Learning Resource Center. They also work on their own strategies. Periodically, they fine-tune their plan, balancing the scales.

Overall, students talk openly about their college experience and their self esteem. Some interviews are analytical, some emotional, and some just plain factual. Others include risky strategies from gutsy students. I'm sure you will embrace them all and learn from their experiences and anecdotes. Tips from some of the students are at the end of their interviews; these are directed at K-12 students and college students. And, at the end of this section the pointers touch on strategies for test taking, researching papers and reading assignments, dealing with math and foreign-language classes, and developing computer strategies.

College students have some strong opinions about special accommodations, the Learning Resource Centers and faculty. They also speak frankly about multiple-choice testing, foreign-language classes, and standardized testing for grad school (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, etc.) In some ways, they are a direct contrast to the sibling respondents (young ones).

I hope you will read these interviews with the understanding that they don't represent one particular university or college. More, they're an indicator of where young people with dyslexia are going to school today. I also hope you will see reflections of yourself or young adults you know, in their stories.

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