OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Slightly disabled, yet extremely confused

College should help students stay in, but I have yet to meet a teacher who understands "disability", and I lost my scholarship as a result.

Photo of Abraham Jacobson
1 3

Written by

I am currently attending one of the top (and highest priced) schools in the southern US. I submitted an application for this school, thinking that there was no way I would get in, yet they offered to pay for half of the ridiculous tuition. Because I have severe ADHD and generalized stress disorder, however, my high-school guidance councilor, my parents, even my psychiatrist said that I should go to this school because it would be the only place I could actually get to talk to my teachers. Talking with them, however, proved incredibly difficult because I constantly felt like I was the only one who didn't understand instructions, which greatly discouraged me, even making me depressed. With no advice given on how to prepare for tests, essays, or projects for freshmen, I did horribly on tests, I forgot a lot of homework, and barely managed to not flunk out first semester.

Although the school claims to have tutors, the tutors are actually other students, who may or may not have ever taken the class you need help with; my second semester, I wound up having a tutor from outside, and even with his help throughout the entire semester, I still barely got a C on the final because, although the teacher had allegedly outlined everything that was going to be on the test weeks ahead of time, there were still things that we hadn't gone over for months. As a result of receiving none of the help they claimed to provide - from no way to get essential notes after class that I very much needed due to a very slow writing speed, to requests for extended time being met with venom from the teacher (if not denial or suddenly changing the date without my knowledge)- I lost my scholarship. Even with both of my parents working, my father as a radio-oncologist and my mother as a nurse, they still are constantly stating that if my grades don't improve, they might have to take me out.

This year, things are barely any easier, as I now have one teacher who only put half of the homework (for her homework based class) in any sort of syllabus, while another threatens to take away 10% of final grades if anyone forgets four homework assignments, which would only count for 4% of my total grade otherwise. Moreover, I will lose points if I miss another day of this class, when my only three absences were caused by a crippling migraine, and two very important Jewish holidays. I was thinking about going over her head to someone in the offices with a formal complaint, when someone in the offices emailed me, saying that I needed to email the teacher to even get a chance for makeup work. I did email her, all three times, and if I went forward now, I'm afraid I would be called a liar and possibly get kicked out of the school. There are only two classes which are doing everything right that I am currently engaged in, a business class, and an ancient greek history class, and, oddly enough, the two classes I am having trouble with are taught by heads of some department or another, while the classes I am performing well in are either taught by teachers new to the school by comparison, or only very recently joined the available curriculum for this school.

From my personal experience, being offered and receiving the most financial help that the school is willing to offer is completely useless to those who have no idea what they are going into. If there were any sort of program to help students learn how to prepare for college level courses that was not itself embedded in a class (therefore affecting GPA), I feel that many more of those offered scholarships would be able to keep it, making college more affordable to those who have previously shown a passion for learning unmatched by average teens, as well as demonstrating the ability to learn. This past year and a half have been absolute torture on me; in high-school, I had only ever gotten a C overall in one string of classes - this class was classical Latin. As a result of the poor test grades, I would constantly lose motivation, making it so I didn't learn from my mistakes at all. If there were any sort of safety net, I would still have my scholarship.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

the system is unfair to the disabled, even in the most prominent schools of America. The school I am talking about is actually Rollins, who recently started a program for "social entrepreneurship", ironically enough.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Abraham, interesting post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story with higher impact. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.