Resources For Students
Before Classes Begin
- Make an appointment with each instructor to identify yourself and explain your disability.
- Ask each instructor about his or her course content and what kinds of tests, papers and/or other assessment tools that will be used during the semester. If you need special accommodations, discuss this with your professor.
- Talk with your professors about test format. Will the professor give essay, true/false, multiple choice or a number of different types of questions on his or her exams?
- Tour the campus, and make sure you can find each of your classes. In addition, confirm the location of other important offices on campus, (i.e. bookstore, OSD, cafeteria, tutoring center, library).
- Purchase your textbooks from the bookstore. If you need textbooks in alternative format, give your textbook list to the OSD.
- If you are a student who is blind or has a visual impairment, contact the Division of Blind Services and request mobility training. Unfortunately, the OSD does not provide escort services. Therefore, students need to learn and practice independent mobility skills well before the first day of classes.
- Students who need to tape record their lectures, should secure a lightweight, reliable tape recorder. In addition, purchase enough batteries to accommodate your class needs.
- Students, who need an attendant or personal assistant to accompany them to the College, need to employ this person well before the first day of classes. Make sure your attendant is ready to accompany you on the first day. Share your class schedule with your attendant so that he/she will know where you are at all times.
The First Day of Class
- Arrive early to secure the best possible seating. Sit up front, close to the instructor. This will help you with concentration and minimize distractions.
- If you use special equipment, arrive early so the instructor can work with you, without taking up class time.
- Make sure you receive a class syllabus from each of your classes. Review your class syllabi and make sure you have the instructor's office number, phone number and office hours.
- If you use an interpreter or reader during class, you may need to save a seat for him or her.
- Organize each class syllabus, outline, notes and calendar in a notebook.
- If you have any questions or concerns, ask your professor and/or contact the OSD immediately.
During the Semester
- If you use interpreter services, inform the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Coordinator of any changes in your schedule (i.e. if you drop or withdraw from a class).
- If you need special assistance during tests, make sure you inform the OSD of your test needs at least one week prior to test time. This includes students who need readers, scribes, interpreters or request testing in the OSD office.
- Make appointments to talk with your instructors to monitor your progress. It is beneficial to do this at least once before an exam and again shortly after the exam.
- If you think you will need tutorial assistance, request a tutor early in the semester, preferably the first week of the semester. Do not wait until your first test to seek these services. Make an appointment to meet with a tutor on a weekly basis.
The End of The Semester
- Check the final exam schedule to make sure you know when and where your final exams are scheduled.
- Request support services, if needed, for your finals (i.e. reader, interpreter, scribe, testing room in the OSD). Remember to request these services at least one week in advance.
- Talk with your instructors to discuss the final exam location and/or support services.
- Check with the OSD to find out the priority registration schedule if you don't receive a postcard or letter in the mail.
- Thank your instructors for their assistance.
College is hard work! To be a successful college student, one must be willing to work three hours outside of class for each one-hour in class. Students with disabilities usually need to schedule more study time than students without disabilities to be successful. Practice the strategies in this section of your handbook. They will increase your chances of success.
- Attend all classes. Other students may be able to get by missing an occasional class, but for students with disabilities hearing the lecture is critical in learning new material.
- Preview new material and review the previous lecture before each class.
- Sit in the front of the classroom so you can hear and see well. This puts you in close proximity to the instructor. If you have a question or want to participate in the class discussion you are in easy reach.
- Students who choose to tape record class lectures, need to carefully label every tape (for example, Side 1, Intro. To Humanities 10/15/01). Make sure you label the tape before you insert it into the recorder. Set the counter on your tape recorder to zero and if you are unsure of a concept during the lecture, jot down the counter number in the margin of your notebook for easy review and clarification later.
- Review tapes and/or notes as soon after the lecture as possible. Compare your notes with a study partner if possible. Copy notes over, if necessary. Highlight and summarize the main points. Keep a glossary of important terms, lists of key concepts, major events, contributors and their theories or formulas.
- Keep a master calendar. Make sure it's large enough to enter assignments, exams, social events, and important appointments. Use other calendars for specific assignments, (e.g. a wall calendar for long-range assignments).
- Work backwards from the due date on long-range assignments and build in extra time. Go over this time line with your instructor and ask for feedback on your progress periodically.
- Make sure you have understood the assignment correctly and completely before starting. Schedule an appointment with your instructor to clarify any questions you may have.
- It is often difficult to begin working on a new assignment. Start by making a commitment of 30 minutes and then lengthen the study periods gradually.
Use a computer program with spell check to identify misspelled words. Spell check cannot however, identify proper nouns, or homonym errors. Neither will grammatical errors, inappropriate prepositions, word choices or punctuation errors be spotted. Have your papers proofread by a writing tutor, friend, or relative who is willing to assist you in finding and correcting errors.
- Be aware of Add-Drop, and Withdrawal dates. Use them to your advantage to enhance success. Do not continue in a class in which you have no chance of completing successfully. Remember, a grade of "C" or higher is considered success completion in college.
- Schedule tutorial assistance early in the semester. Do not wait until you have failed a test before seeking a tutor.
- Review your course material frequently and regularly throughout the semester.
- Color code, enlarge, underline and highlight your notes to strengthen your visual memory of course material.
- Read and copy your notes over as soon as you can, after class ends. Sometimes the act of writing facilities memorization. Reading your notes can also due you into information and concepts that you didn't understand during the lecture. These are things that you can clarify with your professor or tutor.
- Read your textbook, notes, and/or papers aloud (tape recording while you read). Often hearing information with or without seeing the words helps students remember what they have read.
- Tape record lectures and listen to them while driving, exercising, eating, grocery shopping, etc.
- Rehearse material to be mastered either orally or in writing. Write concepts out in full. Read your notes silently or aloud. Paraphrase or explain concepts to a friend or tutor.
- Review course material frequently and commit material to memory using strategies that aid recall such as listing, categorizing, visual imaging, revisualizing, alphabetizing, memonics, and associations.
- Find out what examination format your professor will use (i.e. multiple choice, essay, true/false). Ask your professor for practice exams or find out if practice exams are available. Take as many as you can and check your answers against the answer key, with a tutor, or the professor.
- Prepare for essay exams by studying practice exams or trying to anticipate the questions that will be asked on the exam. Write out your answers to the anticipated questions. Remember, essay questions need to be approached like writing papers for an English class. Develop a short outline to give you some organization to your essay. Use proper grammar in writing your answer. Make sure your essay answers all parts of the question.
- Sugar, caffeine and cigarettes are stress-enhancing substances. Avoid foods or beverages that contain these substances before taking tests or exams. Complex carbohydrates and some protein will provide the best source of energy over an extended period of time.
- Before you begin your test, write down any formulas, dates, names or terminology that you have committed to memory. This helps you get out the information while it's fresh in your memory. Also, you will have this information to use as needed, later in the exam.
- Read the test directions carefully. Underline the verb that describes what you are to do: describe, compare, summarize, list. Then follow the directions precisely.
- Answer the easiest questions first. Circle the hard ones and come back to them after you have answered the easy ones.
- Pace yourself. Even if you have extended time, it is not unlimited time.
- If you don't understand a question, paraphrase it for the instructor or proctor to confirm that you have understood the meaning of the question.
Support Students with Disabilities at VCU
We know budgets are tight, but the time is right to support students with disabilities at this web site. Your wonderful donation can provide information, endow student scholarships or fund staff publications. Our students are great and they can’t wait to reach their potential and graduate. Donated dollars will help develop our scholars and provide a platform for the student of tomorrow.
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Disability Support Services
Monroe Park Campus
907 Floyd Ave.
Voice/TTY: (804) 828-2253
Fax: (804) 828-1944
Office of Health Career/Education and Special Services for Students
VCU Medical Center Campus
1000 E. Marshall St.
Phone: (804) 828-9782
TTY: (804) 828-4608
Fax: (804) 828-4609