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5 Tips for Applying to College With a Disability

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I’ve just wrapped up my junior year of college at a major university. I study Digital / Print Journalism and minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Before I begin my senior year, it’s important to me to give advice to people like me with cerebral palsy, and others with disabilities who are trying to enter college for the first time, or wondering if they even can. The answer is, yes, you can! I believe you can do anything you put your mind to, and getting into college is no exception. But college applications can be daunting. Here is my “crash course” of 5 tips to get into your dream school as a person with a disability.

1. Don’t deny or downplay your disability on the application. Be honest about your needs and your struggles, where you’ve come from and where you are going. If you’re like me, you didn’t have a long list of extracurricular activities to put on your application or include in your essay. That’s probably because you spent a lot of time battling your illness and caring for yourself — use that as a strength. College admissions officers are looking at who you are as a person, and how much you’ll value the education, not necessarily the list of things you did.

2. Be realistic. If you don’t know what you want to study, say so! There’s no shame in being unsure, but don’t set goals you may not be able to reach in your application. Choose a career path that is in line with your ability levels over the long term.

3. Be yourself when writing your essays. The last thing you want to do is get accepted based on something you’re not; you want to know you got in because of who you are. I chose to write specifically about my struggles and triumphs as a person with a disability. I think it showed strength of character, and I think it paid off.

4. Apply to multiple schools. I only applied to a community college that I was already enrolled in as a high school student. While I did visit some schools and researched many more, in the end I really only sent out one application – and I got in. So, I give this advice because I regret not applying to more universities.

5. Don’t take rejection too hard. If a school turns you down, it’s their loss, not yours. They may not have been the school for you.

Happy college season, and good luck!

This story originally appeared on Cerebral Palsy News Today.

Originally published: September 12, 2016
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