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Discussing Course Selection with Your Academic Advisor

The following is information we often provide to students when discussing how to consider their disabilities in planning their coursework. We are providing it as a reference so that academic advisors can be aware of some of the issues affecting students with disabilities and the issues that may come up during the academic advising process.

Self-disclosing to academic advisor

  • What is important for him/her to know to better help you put together a manageable schedule?
    • More alert at a particular time (i.e. a.m., p.m., midday).
    • Joints/body aches at a particular time (i.e. a.m., midday, p.m.).
    • Difficult topics require more time (i.e. math, foreign language).
    • Need breaks during certain times of the day (i.e. need to eat or take meds, fatigue easily).
  • What factors/variables are important in choosing your classes?
    • Class format (i.e. small group discussion, student presentations, large lecture, interactive, online).
    • Teaching style (i.e. lecture-based, PP presentations with handout, interactive).
    • Exam format (i.e. essay, multiple choice, short answer, oral).
    • Amount of reading.
    • Number of credit hours (may need to take a reduced course load approved by SSD).

Course selection

  • Consider which topics are more difficult for you (i.e. math, science, writing, foreign language).
    • Create a schedule that will allow more time for difficult topics.
    • Take difficult course/s in the summer, through independent study, correspondence or at a community college.
    • Discuss course load options with SSD administrator prior to meeting with academic advisor.
  • How do you handle a lot of reading?
    • Inquire how much reading is required in the courses you will be taking.
    • Get texts early and begin reading ahead.
    • Ask about books on tape/alternative texts (with your SSD administrator).
  • What foreign language experience have you had? Is it required in your major?
    • Identify options (i.e. majors or schools w/o language requirement, alternatives to language courses such as culture courses, study abroad).
    • May need to get creative with accommodations through SSD.

Differences that matter

  • M, W, F classes are approximately 50 minutes long. T, Th classes are approximately 1 1/2 hours long.
    • Consider issue of continuity/practice effects
      • Better if meet more often.
    • Consider the amount of time you can typically pay attention or can remain seated in class.
  • Some classes are larger than others.
    • Use priority registration to take advantage of smaller courses/sections.
    • Explore whether different courses can be taken for the same requirement.
    • Can course be taken in the summer?
    • Consider accommodation of preferential seating (obtained through SSD).
  • How many hours do you think you want to take?
    • Consider 1 hr. in class = 3 hrs. out of class preparation.
    • Impact on scholarship, financial aid, rehab services (discuss with SSD).
    • Concern of time (years to graduate, cost vs. level of achievement/gpa).
    • Need for reduced course load (approved by SSD)?
  • When are you most alert?
    • Morning, midday, evening?
    • Consider medication side effects.
  • How much time do you need between classes?
    • Amount of time necessary to get to next class (look at the map).
    • Ability to get organized/re-focus before beginning of next class.
    • Extended time on tests may eat into other classes- no more than 2 classes back to back.
    • Time needed to prep for classes.
    • Desired times to relax, eat, sleep, study, take medication, etc.

Course style

  • Attendance policies.
  • Instructor style.
    • How do you learn best (i.e. lecture, participation, read on own)?
  • Test format.x
    • Explain to the academic advisor or consider how you do on different types of tests (i.e. multiple choice, essay, short answer).

Resources when considering courses

  • Slam tables
    • Set up on the Flawn Academic Center (FAC) porch near the end of each semester.
    • UT students may write whatever they wish about any given instructor/course (good and bad).
  • Pickaprof.com
    • Students review courses/instructors giving insight into workload, lecture style, exam type, attendance policy. Further, grade histories are available.
    • Fee-based service
  • Talk with instructor/department and/or look for syllabus prior to enrolling in a course.

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