Liberal Arts College: A place where differences are accepted and celebrated, a place where the faculty and staff know you and wish for you to succeed, a place where rainbows and unicorns are a dime a dozen… Oh wait, that’s Disneyland.
When I was in first grade I was held back a year. My teachers and parents could not understand why I could simply not learn the ways the other children did. My mother took me in to be tested and many worries were confirmed. I am dyslexic.
Despite this, I freely believe that I had a perfectly normal childhood. Yes the teasing could occasionally be merciless but I developed a strong left hook to combat it. I learned how to smile and nod when people gave me useless suggestions on how to “get over” my disability. I will never forget one teacher even telling me that, if I simply read more then I would grow out of it. But despite this, the schools I attended provided me with accommodations and I did well in my classes.
Then it was time for college. One of the reasons I decided on Kalamazoo College was because their website proclaimed it a place where people with disabilities could flourish. The fact that the website had no further information on the services they provided should have been my first clue that this is not so. Gain accommodations from this college has made it possible for me to attend this institution but I would not do it again if I had the choice. The, perhaps unintentional, agenda of the college is to make sure that no student abuses the accommodation system. This agenda may seem helpful but in reality it promotes a mentality that those who ask for help are really seeking a shortcut. Having to "prove" that you deserve a chance at this education despite a having a disability can make students feel like criminals. No students deserve to feel like that, and those seeking extra help should be no exception.
It was not all a terrible experience. Eventually I found an advocate who encouraged me to advocate for myself. The most important thing to remember when encountering this situation, or a situation like this, is to never take no for an answer. You may be told that this institution doesn’t owe you anything, but they do. They owe you their respect, so demand it.