Do you want to know how to succeed in your college classes? Good, I’m here to share with you how I mastered college and graduate school with hearing loss.
First, it is not easy. I was an above average grade student. I worked hard listening to important details from professors, while following along with the powerpoint presentations, in conjunction with writing everything down and processing new information. Exhausted yet? I was.
By your first college exams, you should have an idea of what kind of college student you are. Some can study last minute and ace the tests, while others have to study days before and still stay up late to cram all the important details of the anatomy of your inner ear.
The purpose of this article is to help you, no matter what kind of student you are, learn tips and tricks to be a successful college student with hearing loss.
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#1 Know When to Ask For Help
The following tips are from personal experience, not necessarily required by the college to provide, but just some other helpful tips that may not otherwise be mentioned by professionals.
Use office hours! Use this time to clear up any misunderstandings or to ask for help understanding a topic. Don’t abuse it though. There was one time I didn’t feel my alarm clock go off and I woke up late. We had an assignment due at 7:30 am at the start of class. I arrived late and he would not let me turn it in. I sought him during office hours and explained my situation. Fortunately, he was understanding, but he never missed a chance to give me a hard time about it after that. He treated me like a normal college student and maintained his expected standards whether I had a hearing loss or not. I’m glad he did that. I was never late again.
Find a study buddy. One that does well in the class. What you missed in class they will likely know the answer to, because they likely heard it.
Reach out to a mentor or your advisor. These people genuinely want to see you do well and succeed. They usually have your best interest in mind. Use them to help guide you where you need to take your next steps with whatever it is you need.
#2 Utilize Hearing Assistive Technologies (HATs)
College students with hearing loss are usually familiar with the Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) route by the time they reach college. These days, starting from an early age, FM systems are introduced. Does this continue into college? Absolutely! It’s even more crucial. When you think you don’t need it, that is when you do need it.
Elementary classrooms generally have poor room acoustics and are noisier than we would like. Research shows noise levels ranged from 34 to 66 dB(A) in elementary classrooms. The strong push for FM use is clear in the research that it is beneficial to the hard-of-hearing elementary child. But what about in college classes? Much quieter right? Sure, with 299 other students!
HATs provide access to speech by placing a microphone on the talker, transmitting the signal directly to a receiver worn by the listener. With hearing aids including BlueTooth technology, a student can take advantage of remote microphones that allow the user to stream the professor’s voice straight to their devices.
#3 Utilize the College Disability Center
Your child must register as a student with disabilities to receive accommodations. Very important to understand that colleges don’t fall under the IDEA, therefore no IEPs. They do have to follow federal civil rights laws, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). After evidence is submitted and approved, the student may have access to accommodations. The list below consists of the accommodations I used to help me in both undergraduate and graduate school.
Hearing Assistive Technology; remote microphone or FM (Digital) Systems
Notetaker for each class or as needed
Access to early registration for classes (this is huge!)
Extra time on tests if needed
As I write this post and see all the new graduates on Instagram and Facebook I’m reminded of my own journey. Not just my journey with hearing loss or with my cochlear implant, but with my life. I’ve had many obstacles to overcome and was able to get through them no matter what happened. It may not have been the path I expected, but sometimes those are the best realizations that the previous journey was not for you. When one door closes, another one opens. Check out the link to my graduation speech at UNC Chapel Hill. Get your tissues out, it’s a tearjerker. I hope this will inspire you to make the most of what you are given in this life and to bring joy to others.
So, you made it this far, you must really like my stuff! Do you have any tips & tricks to add to this post? If so, please share in the comments. Here is the link for the FREE download.
I would love to hear what you used to help you advance in your career so I can be sure to pass it on to my patients.