Strategies and Tips

The fact that you have a disability need not put you at a disadvantage over other students at Simpson College. The services described below can assist you in your academic endeavors, and you are encouraged to take advantage of them. You should, however, realize that you may have to work harder than other students in order to achieve similar academic results. Therefore, your motivation and effort are essential to your success in college.

Learning Disabilities

Admissions policy for students with learning disabilities

Persons with learning disabilities are considered for admission to Simpson College on the same basis as all other applicants and must meet the same academic requirements.

Declaration of a learning disability
Students may choose whether or not to reveal their disability to Simpson staff and faculty. However, in order to qualify for special services, students must provide proper verification of disability to Hawley Academic Resource Center.

Hawley Academic Resource Center will not release the disability information to other staff or faculty without the student’s written permission, but some accommodations can not be made without faculty knowledge.

Services available to students with learning disabilities

  • Students with special needs, like all Simpson College students, have access to several academic support services through Hawley Academic Resource Center. We recommend that students with disabilities seek these services early in the semester.
  • Similarly, students with special needs, like all Simpson College students, have access to counseling and career services through the student development office–and may want to take early advantage of these services.
  • Students with documented disabilities may qualify for special services such as: alternative test arrangements, books on tape, and other assistance as the documented disability warrants.

Recommendations for students with learning disabilities
Students will need to set realistic goals and priorities for course work. According to an article in the Journal of Learning Disabilities, the recommended study time for most students is 2-3 hours of study per hour in class, while the recommended study time for students with learning disabilities may need to plan on lighter course loads and limit extra-curricular and job responsibilities–at least until the student adjusts to a college pace (and maybe throughout the college career).

Simpson College recommends that students with learning disabilities be assertive about their needs, strongly motivated, willing and able to implement individual coping strategies. Students will need to take time management seriously. If special arrangements are needed, the student must provide validated documentation early in the semester.

Foreign Language competency and students with learning disabilities 
Due to their disability, a number of students who have been diagnosed as learning disabled cannot master the rudimentary knowledge of a foreign language. Simpson College offers alternatives to meet the foreign language competency requirement. Students who provide formal documentation that their learning disability hinders them from learning a foreign language will be permitted to substitute other courses for 101 and/or 102 of a foreign language. This substitution may occur either prior to taking 101 or while taking 101.

The documentation needs to be provided from an Area Educational Agency, Vocational Rehabilitation or a similar evaluation center. The report must include interpretation from several standardized tests such as WAIS-R, Woodcock-Johnson, Achievement Clusters, Slosson Oral Reading, or Lindamood Auditory Conceptualization. After the staff of the Hawley Academic Resource Center and the department chair of foreign language review the interpretation of the testing, permission may be granted for the student to choose from a list of substitute courses.

The substitution may focus on the structure of language systems or on expanding world views by gaining greater cultural sensitivity. Course examples of the structured nature of language include math, computer science or American sign language. Examples of greater cultural sensitivity include cultural anthropology or Indians of Americas.

Suggestions for College Students with Learning Disabilities

Tell others of your needs

  • Provide your Individualized Evaluation Program (IEP) to the staff of the Hawley Academic Resource Center. This documentation is needed to receive special accommodations.
  • If you are having trouble, seek assistance early in the semester.

Before class begins

  • If you know that you have a documented learning disability, talk to your instructors BEFORE the semester begins.
  • Set realistic goals and priorities for coursework. A student with a learning disability may need to spend four to five hours in preparation for every hour of class.
  • Keep a calendar with all relevant dates, assignments, and appointments.

Class accommodations

  • Sit toward the front of the classroom to maximize your eye contact and to reduce distractions.
  • Make arrangements with instructor if you have difficulty taking notes. It may be possible that a fellow non-LD student could make a duplicate set of lecture notes for you to use. If you choose to tape a class lecture, first ask permission from the instructor. Remember that a taped lecture is no substitute for note-taking, but rather a device that allows for unhurried listening to help you comprehend and organize information.
  • Discuss with your instructor your needs for taking exams. If alternative arrangements need to be arranged such as extended time, a quiet room, a reader or scribe, or word processing equipment, you and your instructor can seek help from the Hawley staff.
  • Make arrangements with the Iowa Commission for the Blind if you need books on tape.


  • Make notes of any questions you might have so that they can be answered before the next exam. Ask for a tutor to help answer these questions (available at Hawley) or go to the professor for help.
  • Estimate how long a given class assignment will take, generally planning on 4-5 hours outside of class for every hour in class. Build in study breaks, as fatigue is a big time waster.
  • Maintain a neat, distraction-free environment in which to study.
  • Use a word processor.
  • Seek the help available at the Hawley Academic Resource Center.

Strategies for Students with Attention Deficit Disorder

As with any disability, academic strategies for students with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) should be tailored to meet the needs of each individual student. Some of the strategies for success in college listed below might be helpful to you, especially if you modify them to meet your own needs. They are:

  • Sit toward the front of the class to help you focus. Do not sit near other students who tend to chat with you during class and distract you from what the professor is saying.
  • Use other students in classes as note-takers or use a tape recorder in classes to help you review lectures.
  • Take time to get to know the faculty at Simpson and the support staff at Hawley. Seek these people out to request any assistance you need. Also, seek help immediately if you experience difficulties. Consider working with a counselor or advisor to help you learn better academic coping strategies.
  • Keep a planner, assignment book, or electronic scheduler in which you record your assignments, the due dates for papers and projects, your plans for completion, your personal deadlines for steps to completion, the dates of quizzes, midterms and final exams, and your plans for study periods.
  • Pick a quiet and comfortable study place, schedule regular study periods, and take regular breaks to refresh yourself.
  • Set aside 15 minutes at the end of your study time to review where you are on your various projects and plan the next day.
  • Select courses that are of high interest to you and a good fit for your learning style. Consider taking a reduced course load. If you must take a course that you know will be difficult for you, consider taking it during the summer or during a semester in which you have a light course load.
  • Request needed accommodations in advance for courses, examinations and activities.
  • Make it a policy to ask questions if you do not understand an assignment or an exam question, and, if you remain unsure, note in writing your question and then proceed to complete the task to the best of your ability. Then come back to the question and see if it has become more clear.

Physical Disabilities

If you have a documented physical disability, Simpson College offers a variety of services and accommodations you may take advantage of that will allow you to pursue your studies successfully.

  • Students can be hired by Hawley if you need assistance in taking notes for class.
  • Readers are available through Hawley.
  • Accommodations regarding the location of a test site, the time available for taking a test, and the date of a test can be made.
  • Simpson College will consult with the respective disability agency regarding a student’s special needs.

Tips for Students with Physical Disabilities

If you have a physical disability, there are a number of things you can do independently to help you succeed academically.

  • Talk to you instructor before the semester begins about different strategies and accommodations that would enhance your performance.
  • Plan ahead, and keep a calendar with all relevant dates, assignments, and appointments.
  • If you are having any problems, seek assistance early in the semester from both your professors and the Hawley Academic Resource Center.