Wexford's Vivian Rath is a PhD student and lecturer in Trinity College Dublin where he is researching the social engagement experiences of students with disabilities in higher education.
He spoke to Orla on the Sunday Grill about his experiences in college and gave some tips on what students with disabilities need to consider before starting.
Tips when considering going to college
If you are a student with a disability planning to go to college, you should consider the following tips;
- Remember you have options,
It is important to remember, that there are several routes into college, and you have many options available to you.
For instance, after my leaving certificate, I decided to do a Post Leaving Certificate Course (PLC) in science. I found this very useful because it gave me some time to think and decide on what I really wanted to do. There are also fantastic Further Education Courses (FETAC). So, there are a wide range of options available to you.
- Check out the Disability Access Route to Education,
This is a scheme to support students with disabilities to access higher education. It is available across a wide range of colleges and universities nationwide. There are a range of DARE clinics where people can learn more about how to apply. For more information on dates etc here
- Understand your needs and make sure you are at the heart of decisions relating to you,
If you previously had supports, you may require the same supports when you go to college. It is also possible you may need new supports as you will need to be more independent. So, it is important to take some time to consider your support needs. I would also recommend that students consider disclosing their disability to the college in advance. This can help the college have your supports ready for you when you begin.
- Visit the colleges,
Although it can seem like a lot of work it is worthwhile to visit the colleges you think you might like to attend. Go there, meet the access or disability services and ask to speak to other students with disabilities. These students will be able to tell you exactly what the college is like and share their experiences with you.
- Be kind to yourself.
My final tip is to be kind to yourself. Planning and preparing to go to college can at times be tough. It may seem overwhelming and hard to know what to do next. It is important to remember to reach out for help during those times. The Association for Higher Education Access and Disability can help you do that. You can contact them by going to their website here or calling them on call 01 716 4396.