College students need to learn and practice a lot of skills. One of these essential skills needs to be self-advocacy. Self-advocacy is the ability to understand and effectively communicate one’s needs to other individuals. With so many changes happening from high school to college, it is important to keep in mind that college requires a great deal of independent work and self-motivation. Students who may have relied on others to advocate for them in the past now have to learn to communicate their needs to others.
Do you know your strengths and needs?
Learning to advocate for you begins with knowing yourself. You may need to examine your strengths and challenges, your accomplishments, and how you got where you are today. Some of these things may be obvious to you and some may require more thought. It is also important to know what resources are available to you and how to access those resources. You need to be clear about what you need to be successful and how you plan to accomplish your goals. This is the time for you as a student to take control and direction for your own future.
Do you know how to make this happen?
You need to get organized and make some important decisions. It is hard to advocate for yourself when you don’t have a clear understanding of what you are advocating for. Knowledge and effective communication can be the keys to self-advocacy. The more you know, the better you understand, and the easier it is to explain. Also, get to know the professors and administrators in your programs and practice becoming more articulate with professors and staff. A student with a disability needs to become comfortable with asking for help from those most able to be effective in meeting their needs.
Questions to keep in mind as you plan for success:
- Am I able to articulate my strengths and needs when I need to?
- Do I have an organized plan that will lead me to my goals?
- What are my goals for this semester, this year, my college career?
- Do I know the resources I have available to help me and who my support persons are on campus?
- Am I aware of my rights and responsibilities?