Hearing from others who have gone before you can often help you to navigate new or difficult situations. Read on as some of our NSA’ers discuss their opinions about how stuttering relates to college.
The classes that you will encounter in college will probably differ from the classes that you have experienced in high school. College classes are often larger, require independent work, and demand more critical thinking skills. However, if you are a person who stutters, do not assume that all universities only have huge lecture halls and you won’t have to speak up in class. This is simply not true! Many universities offer smaller classes and seminars courses, especially for first year students. It is important to participate in class and ask questions, especially if the subject matter is difficult. You don’t want to fall behind from your classmates just because you were afraid to speak up. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can approach your professors privately after the lecture and tell them that you stutter and that it may take you a longer time to get your thoughts out in class. It may be necessarily to approach your professor if you are taking a public speaking class or are enrolled in a course which requires you to make timed oral presentations. The professor can then make accommodations for you, if needed. It is crucial for you to be proactive to maximize your educational experience to ensure your success in college and eventually, your future career. -Chani
Leaving the Comforts of Home
Starting college is a challenging experience because you will be leaving everything familiar to you back at home. It can be especially difficult for you, a teenager who stutters, because you will be leaving those closest to you who understand your history with stuttering, advocate on your behalf, and want you to succeed. However, you may find that beginning college can feel like a huge relief because you will be starting with a clean slate. Your classmates and professors will not have any prior assumptions about you and your speech. If your stutter is mild, people may not even realize that you stutter! You will probably find that students in college are less judgmental than your classmates in junior high and high school. However, it is important to keep in mind that regardless of your present level of fluency, your stuttering may get worse when you first begin college. You will be entering a new environment, the coursework will be stressful, and you will be meeting dozens of new people. If you were in speech therapy in high school, it can feel scary to “be on your own” controlling speech. Anticipate that your speech may be less fluent and be mentally prepared for what you will do if and when that happens. If you learnt fluency-shaping or stuttering modification techniques in therapy, continue to practice those in college. Try to get enough sleep, stick to a healthy diet, and find ways for you to relax. Most importantly, stay positive and keep in touch with those who love and care for you back at home- family, friends, neighbors, therapists- and that will make the adjustment way easier. -Chani
College Students Attitude
The students in college overall are a lot different than high school. The students tend to be more mature and less judgmental then high school from my experience. College students seem to be a lot more accepting of stuttering and all other disabilities even though I don’t consider stuttering a disability. Depending on what type of college you choose there are usually a lot more students than high school so it is not like you are stuck with the same people in every class. If you do come across someone in college who isn’t accepting of your stuttering most likely you won’t see them very often depending on the size of your college. If you do come across them often you can most likely avoid them because of how many students there are unlike high school. So far in college I have not had any negative experiences with my stuttering. My transition into the “college life” was a lot easier than I thought it would be. -Garrett Langer
Finding Therapy/Support in College
In college you can often get speech therapy on campus especially if your college has speech language pathology as a major and has clinics on campus. I receive therapy at my college for a discounted rate compared to what the general public pays because I am a student. Speech therapy can be expensive especially when trying to pay for college so having discounted speech therapy available is really cool. I also think that therapy in a college clinic setting is really cool not only for us, but for the graduate students. When you receive therapy by the graduate students most likely you are the first person who stutters that they have ever worked with. I feel that not only are they going over tools and other things that I want to work on, but I feel that I am able to educate them on my experience with stuttering which may help the next person who stutters that they give therapy to.-Garrett Langer
General College Topics
I personally used stuttering in my college application. It has been a major part of my life and its helped my overcome some events and shape who I am. I freely disclose stuttering on every essay where I have the chance. As for dorm life, I didn’t let it bare any effort on where I ended up. When my new roommate and I contacted each other, I explained that I stutter and she was okay with it. I figured if I am comfortable with my speech, she will be too. There isn’t a lot of therapy that I consider to be helpful and the fact that I go to school in a remote area doesn’t help either. My friends as a whole support me in my speech so I have that going for me.
Leaving the comforts of my “home” was more of a personal thing with leaving my life and civilization behind. I went from one of the largest cities in America to a village which was quite depressing. The difference from high school to college is that you pretty much have to “have you your own back”. Be ready to stand up for yourself and make your own way. Meeting people for the first time is tough plus classrooms sometimes aren’t as intimate as it might be in high school. It can be intimidating raising your hand in a big lecture class. Honestly, going to college as a person who stutters isn’t a really big deal. People are more open because people are more “mature” in their thinking. If you don’t want to talk to anyone then you don’t have to and if you do then you find people who click. College seems scary because others have fear attached to their stuttering. Drop the shield and the fear and dive right in. -Marina Piazza