Uni survival guide: dealing with Uni while disabled

G’day my friends and welcome to another week and another blog!!

If you are in Australia, school and Uni has started back for another year! Yes I know. Summer is over, and never ending assessments begin. Where parents are sitting back thanking the powers that be that they finally have some peace and quiet and where us students are sitting in class day dreaming about summer.

I didn’t take a gap year after high-school before I started Uni, so I have been a student for 18 years! Wow that is crazy to think most of my life I have done some form of study.

I guess that makes me a little bit of an expert when it comes to studying while you are disabled.

So I thought why not delve into how I dealt with study, in particular University as a disabled person. Don’t worry a school based one is coming!

Disability aside: Naivety is a real thing

an photo looking down at someone studying. they have a notebook open, a phone, glasses laptop and planner in front of them. their hand is in their hands clearly stressing about something
Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

This point isn’t disability related, but going into uni I was so naive! I honestly thought it would be exactly like highschool and I would be fine.

I was no wrong there! Uni is relies on how much you put into the experience. Most lectures, for me anyway, were not graded on attendance so you could either show up or not that was your choice. Unless you had an awesome lecture who would contact the class to see how they were traveling, it was up to you to reach out if you needed help. And there was no one to remind you about due dates of assessment every week!

The stress was real! To the point I didn’t think that Law was for me and was one email away from changing degrees all together. Thank goodness I didn’t.

The one thing that is good about Uni that is so different from school, is that you are treated like an adult, and you can walk into class with a coffee! That novelty still hasn’t worn off after 6 years of Uni life. The fact I can go and get a coffee one my way to class, or grab one in between study sessions is just bliss.

My experience dealing with Uni

The beautiful Japanese Gardens at my University. A red bridge is in the middle of the picture with a lake and trees surrounding it. The sky is cloudy
one of my favourite places on campus. And accessible pathways for the win!

Ok, I should probably talk about my experience studying while being disabled. After all this is a disability blog right?!

I am so grateful that I was able to go to a uni that was super accessible! There was a lift to my main classrooms, the support staff was great and organised, and I could get around stress free.

However, the one thing I struggled with for the first year at least was fatigue and my diet.

Yes. I too sucummed to the Uni diet. Anything fast was best which was usually highly processed and not good for the body. I was and still am a comfort eater. So given I was stressed trying to find my feet and deal with anxiety I wasn’t eating the best.

And that took a toll on my disability in that I was fatiguing quicker and didn’t feel good personally.

In all honesty, University is a lot to take on when you have any illness that will impact on how much you can do at any one time.

However, I learnt a thing or two that I want to pass to you all!

Tips to survive Uni

Me at my uni graduation! Bachelor of Law in the bag! I am wearing a black dress which is covered by a black ceremony robe with purple sash, black grad cap and holding onto my degree!

Just because you are disabled, doesn’t mean you can’t go to uni! It actually doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still go back to school! Either to get your high school certificate or to get a degree.

I have a few tips that I want to share with you that helped me along the way and wish I knew sooner.

Firstly, you absolutely need to make yourself known to the disability support staff if you attend on campus. They can help you with anything from ensuring the correct chair is in your classroom, modifications to bathrooms and considerations when it comes to exam time. Now isn’t that not reason enough to book that appointment and get a support plan in place?

My second tip ties in with the first one. Ask and you shall receive. Well for the most part at least! Had I not have asked, the disabled bathroom wouldn’t have been modified to include a electric door! Just by asking you save yourself and a lot of your other fellow disabled community members from using their mobility aids as a battering ram. Yes it did that. Yes it was epic until I nearly broke my scooter ramming it into the door.

Next, do not compare yourself to others. I know us humans are hard wired to constantly compare ourselves to nearly everyone. But when it comes to study, this is a big no no. Your study techniques will be different, how you sit your exam or complete assessment may be different. But that is ok! Your study journey is unique to you!

The last tip I could give is join as many groups or clubs as possible! Don’t be affraid to get out there and meet new people! For the first half of my degree I was too self-conscious ad shy that I signed up to clubs but never attended. Because of that and not attending classes (procrastinator big time!) I didn’t meet many new people or form any friends. Also you never know what kind of opportunity could be waiting around the corner if you didn’t interact at Uni. Its not what you know it is who you know. So network up a storm!


p.s. if you want to read my all about what I learnt during my degree and my graduation click here https://livingabled.com.au/graduation-life-and-realisations/


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