Talking with professors in college can be intimidating, especially if you are asking for special accommodations. Many professors are actually more approachable than students realize; but when you are new to college and its structure, it is easy to be overwhelmed or nervous around instructors. However, it’s important to approach them and explain your need for additional accommodations at the very start of the semester (instead of right before the first exam … or even worse, the last!). That way they can have more of a heads-up for what you need and aren’t thrown for a loop at the last minute. Also, there is always the chance that your teacher can’t or won’t provide you with all the accommodations you request. If this happens, it is better to become aware of this at the start of the semester rather than right before a test or important due date.
The next question might be: How do you approach professors to explain your learning difference or need for accommodations? The best time to do this is often during their office hours or immediately after the first or second day of class. All professors are required to hold office hours and encourage students to drop by if they need help on anything. Generally, instructors love having students drop by during these hours, and it is a perfect opportunity to explain your learning differences while meeting the professor one-on-one.
When explaining your learning needs to professors, be sure to help them understand how you learn best and show them the ways you study so they can understand how to help you be successful in their class. This is also a great opportunity to ask for keys to success in the class or study tips they have found useful to students in the past. If their office hours fall at times you have class, send an email politely requesting alternate times to meet or ask to speak with them briefly following one of their classes.
When sharing that you’re allowed accommodations or expressing concerns about a class, it is important to not be rude or demanding. Have a teachable spirit and willing attitude to work with the professor on succeeding in their course. Do not go in with an attitude that they owe you a good grade just because you think you deserve it or ask for self-pity because of your LD. This will not only make the professor less willing to help you, but will also hurt your motivation to try in the class. By being respectful and willing to go the extra mile, your professor will be more willing to help you in your journey to success.
Overall, communicating with your professors in a polite, respectful, friendly, and teachable way can have many benefits. Never be demanding or rude but rather excited and open to their ideas and opinions, and you are likely to go farther than students (even without a LD) who never make the effort to get to know and talk with instructors. So don’t be afraid to ask for what you are entitled to in order to be successful in the classroom. You aren’t the first student with a learning difference to ask for accommodations and you won’t be the last.