Ask Kate Anything: How to succeed with a learning disability

Dear Struggling,

to put it simply: college can be difficult. Professors expect more from you than your high school teachers did, and you need to put in a lot more time to do well in your classes.

Most professors want their students to succeed and will gladly answer questions and explain things more clearly if that’s what you need. Some teachers, however, can be unhelpful, unapproachable, and sometimes downright rude.

This is a good time for you to learn how to be responsible and navigate through whatever life throws at you.

A good option for every student in every class is to find a study group. If the professor isn’t helpful or willing to explain things to the extent that you need, having a group of peers that have to learn the same things and study for the same tests can be extremely helpful. Often, someone in your group will be able to help you understand the material more fully.

You also can and should seek help from a tutor on campus.

But sometimes those options aren’t what you need.

Nearly everyone struggles in one class or another at school, but if you have autism or any disability, whether physical or mental, you are eligible for help from Special Services.

If you suspect you have a learning disability but haven’t been diagnosed, there is a learning disability specialist that can test you in Special Services according to the program’s website, which also gives the warning sign for a learning disability: doing well in most classes but very poorly in some.

Having a learning disability and being a part of the Special Services Program does not mean teachers will make class easier for you or lower the workload compared to other students. You will still be graded with the same standard as every other student, but there are accommodations that can be made to help you succeed, such as extra time on tests, and being allowed to record lectures according to the website.

If you are struggling in classes and have not sought help from Special Services, you should talk to one of their counselors and see what accommodations can be made for you. They are located in the Student Services building.

Whatever you do, make sure you try your best and stick with it. Sometimes you may have to repeat a class, but that’s OK. With hard work, you will succeed.

Do you have a question for Kate?  Don’t shy away, ask Kate anything by sending an email to  If you have a question of a sensitive nature and wish to remain anonymous, your identity will be a kept a secret.