DHH & College Bound: Tips from Two Who Made the Leap


By Dane Seaver with Claire Scanlon, NTID/RIT Students

Did you ever wonder how many deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) high school students go on to get more education after graduation?  The U.S. Department of Education reported in 2006 that 50% of “hearing impaired” high school grads continue with some kind of further education or training.  Of that 50%, approximately 21% go to a four-year college, which roughly translates to this fact: of 100 deaf or hard of hearing kids, only 11 go college.  (http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d06/tables/dt06_383.asp?referrer=report)  Will they stay in college and finish a degree?  Here are some suggestions on staying focused.

Deaf students who will be entering college next fall need to remember a few things: you are there to get an education, be the best you can be, stay true to yourself, stay responsible, keep motivated and think ahead as much as possible.  

Reality Check-Up  Let’s start with a reality check up: the biggest point for all deaf students is to realize that you are still in school, but this time there are no parents to look over your shoulder and make sure you’re getting your work done. You have to be responsible for yourself. Parent support is going to come in a completely different way. You can interact with them through emails and phone calls, but they aren’t going to have dinner waiting for you at the end of the day. You’ve got to take care of yourself. You can be financially supported by your parents, but you will be on your own when it comes to certain things. There is nobody telling you to stay in your room and do your schoolwork. You have to be strong enough to tell yourself that and get it done. Whether it is your parents or Vocational Rehab services paying for your college education, always remember that college costs money and you are there to get an education. You are there get a good degree that will lead to a good job, so dropping out after a year or two would be a mistake and a huge waste of money. 

Social Pressure Be the best you can be-- no matter how hard it is out there. Try to avoid negative influences. Stay true to yourself and do not change for anyone. Always be yourself and there will be people who accept you for you. If you change who you are to be “cooler” you will miss a lot of opportunities to meet people and do things that make YOU happy. You have to know who you are... that is being honest with yourself and other people. Others will have more respect for you if you stay true to yourself.  Stay true to yourself and you will find your life easier.

Stay responsible. Do not forget what you are supposed to do. Day planner books are the best tools for helping you remember what your homework is and what quizzes/tests are coming up. It will also assist you to think ahead and plan for when assignments are due.  It is also essential for seeing if you have time to go hang out with your friends. School work should always come before social time with friends. Friends are a good thing to have, but will they help you get a good job five years later? No. A college degree does that.

Stay motivated. Being motivated will help you get a lot of essential things done for school. As soon as you hit college, your life is in your own hands. Nobody is there to motivate you but yourself. Try to find ways or goals that will keep you motivated and maintain a good work ethic. If you want to blow off some steam and have fun, tell yourself you can do that after you get the paper written or the homework done.  It’ll keep you motivated and you’ll be able to enjoy yourself more if you’re not worried about school work.

Find your own path.  If you keep up with all of these suggestions, you will find your pathway to a successful life more clearly. Keep them in your mind while you are at college; you are making your own life-track through college. The college years are a time to grow and mature, to find your heart’s desire. College can give you a degree, but it’ll also teach you over 500 things about yourself. You will cry and laugh over much of what happens there. You will find the true meaning of friends and relationships. And you’ll finally learn who you really are now that you’re on your own.  ~

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