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Going To College


Jacquie802
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Hi,

I know a few people on here attend school. I would like to take a few classes, but I'm curious as to how to go about this. I recently got approved for SSDI and I don't want to screw that up, plus I know I can't sit/stand for too long as it is. I would love to further my education because I am hoping someday that my docs and I can find some meds to help me. I wouldn't live at school and I am hoping that financial aide could help pay for most or all of my school...I guess I basically would like to know how this school thing is done! Thanks in advance for any advice! :blink:

Jacquie

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Jacquie,

Not sure about the benefits, you may want to check Soc. Sec. website. If you were just approved, I wonder if they may question being well enough to attend classes--- but they do encourage training and trials for back to work without loss of benefits, so this may be worth looking into.

What about starting with on line classes, to see if you can keep up with that and then move on to possibly attending part time? I think it would depend on how you are feeling and then looking into schools and seeing what they can offer you for accommodations-

good luck!! it helps to stimulate the mind for sure!

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First, I would definitely check and make sure that going back to school isn't going to do something to hurt your SSDI. Like nadine said, they may start to question things if they think you are well enough to attend classes.

As for college, I went back when my POTS was doing okay but yet still unpredictable. My POTS did get aggravated and I ended up missing two days. I was surprised how far I got behind but then again it is college and things do move quickly. I withdrew and was lucky enough to get 100% of my tuition back even though I was through most of the semester due to the fact that it was a medical problem.

I decided to try online classes. I started off part time and now I've been going full time for over two years. It is actually a lot more work than attending regular classes. You have to do a lot more reading and even more writing to stay involved adequately. Even though it is more challenging, it turned out to be a great alternative for me because if I'm having a bad day, I can work from bed with my laptop if something really needs to be done. The nice part is that I know my schedule really well and I try to do things ahead of time so that if I'm really not feeling well I don't have anything else to stress about.

Depending on where you are POTS-wise, you might want to consider online classes. But definitely check out about the SSDI stuff first. If you decide to look into online classes and need some school suggestions, let me know. I did a lot of searching before I found the right school for me.

Good luck!

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I am going to a local community college full time right now, 4x a week and am in my 3rd full time semester. It can be challenging, but so far I have been okay. I started during the Summer last year, and my symptoms are always worse in the heat, so that made it a little more difficult. I have to mention that I am doing very well right now, and my symptoms are mostly under control with medication. Without my meds I could not attend school at all. The school you want to attend will have someone working there that personally deals with students in need of medical assistance and/or special accomodations. If you do get approved to go to school without the possibility of losing your ssdi, than see this counselor/advisor first. He or she may request your medical records, but can arrange with your teachers to make your life a little easier. For example, if you need extra time on tests or wheelchair access, etc. Although I made an appointment with the ADA counselor at my school, I never really needed special accomodations; I just wanted her to know and make note of the fact that I have a medical condition, that way if I ever start to have problems later, my situation is already documented.

I don't really know how conditioned/symptomatic you are right now, so it is hard to say how well you could possibly tolerate going to classes. I was scared to death when I applied to go to school, and I started full time in a summer semester. I was going five days a week, and was loaded down with work. I was struggling a little, but tried to rest whenever possible, and I don't have a job, so that def. kept me a little less stressed out. My husband helped out tremendously, so a good support network is helpful. For example, if you have class one day and get home and have homework, you may be too exhausted to clean or cook, so it helps to have someone around that can understand that and be patient. So far I have made it okay and honestly my symptoms have not worsened. I try and take it easy at home and at school. I don't even attempt going up or down steps; I use the handicapped elevator for the on campus library. Lucky me, the building sits on a giant hill and one must go up about five flights of steep stairs to reach it. I have left class early a couple of times, but don't recall actually missing any classes because of my illness.

Online and video classes, as well as hybrid classes(a mix b/w online and in class) are widely available now, so there are many options. Also, you may want to only go part time and start out with just a couple of classes. It is important to know what you want to major in, and come to terms with whether or not you will be able to use that degree and physically handle the type of work you plan to do later with that degree. If you are not planning on working(which you may not since you are disabled) then taking a few classes here and there for your own self improvement is fine, and will help keep all the stress and pressure off of you.

College can be scarey at first, but really, it is so easy once you get on a well timed schedule and find a familiar routine. There will be many advisors and counselors to answer questions and help you get started; whether it is academic, admissions, or financial assistance, there is someone to lead you every step of the way.

I have never taken an online class myself, although I did take Psychology by video. I have to say it was an easy course, even easier than the in class version I hear, but it is so hard to stay motivated and stay on a strict schedule when you are the one deciding on when to watch the videos and begin assignments and study time. It is easy to procrastinate and fall behind.

Anyway, I plan on using my degree to work part time or full time after graduation, so I do worry about whether or not I can handle working. But so far everything has gone better than I imagined. I do stay really tired because of my illness, so that does affect my concentration sometimes, but so far I have maintained a 4.0 GPA for all three semesters. I enjoy the freedom and socializing in school, and I know I now have the option of working and being independent if I need to.

Good luck with your decision. Find out about your benefits, and if that isn't a problem, start calling up some schools and asking losts of questions!

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It might be easier on you to do some self-directed study and take advanced placement exams to get college credits.

http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/about.html

Also, you might want to look into an online type of school to get at least some credits.

The important thing is to pace yourself. Taking it a little at a time and getting good grades is better than overdoing it and having a meltdown: relapse and bad academic record.

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Hi, Jacquie:

To reiterate what others have said here, online classes are a great option, particularly for those who struggle with their health. I completed my master's degree through an online program. Many excellent universities now offer online options for course and degree completion. I would wager a majority of schools offer online classes now, so you don't have to complete your degree through a school that screams "ONLINE!" :)

The flexibility of being able to complete your courses without any set days that you have to actually be somewhere was an amazing option for me. I was just too sick too often to make it into a classroom on a regular basis.

Worththewords is completely right, though - it takes a lot of self discipline to complete the classes. You have to really dig into the texts because the information is not spoon-fed through regular lectures most of the time. All of my classes did meet online for chats, and the professors were really responsive to questions both during the chat and by email. They were also flexible with my health on those days (weeks) that I couldn't get something done in time because of illness.

Starting out slowly is usually the way to go, though... you never realize how much work even one class takes until you are smack in the middle of trying to finish it! ;)

Good luck and take care!

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Hi Jackie,

I am really proud of you for wanting to get back into College. I'm not sure how it works in the USA, but over here you can claim DLA (our equivalent of SSDI) and not be penalised because college is not the same as paid work.

I'd suggest you get in touch with the Disabilities Office/Center at the college you are thinking of going to and asking what accommodations they could make.

Do you have an idea of what you want to study and where? The best thing might be to email one of the course conveners and ask what they think- that way you know any future tutors will already be aware that you have POTS.

Adjustments can easily be made for people who may not be able to attend all classes. My tutors were all very helpful with me, I only had problems with admin staff and accommodation. If you're based at home, that shouldn't be a problem for you- so GOOD LUCK, go for it, and let us know i we can help and how you get on!

Much love to you, setting out on your latest adventure and challenge! ;)

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Jacquie,

I am coming to the end of my first year of college. I attend our community college and what really helped is the ACCESS Office. Dr. Grubb wrote a letter explaining my disability and I receive extra help through the colleges ACCESS Office. They made sure the college police and safety dept knew me and of my problems. They made a special meeting for me to meet them and explain my concerns. If a room is to hot they can try to make it cooler for me, if I have a bad day and can't walk from one class to the other someone from the safety dept will come with a wheelchair and take me back and forth (I haven't had to be so far), I can be late to class, bring snacks, water, leave early, and come and go as I please if I need to step out. I can take my tests in the learning center instead of class so if I am not feeling well I can take it anytime during the week of the test. Since POTS affects us cognitively sometimes I get double time during tests. So if a math test is for 1 hour I can take 2+ hours, and take it in the learning center. The college ACCESS office also has tutors that have been very helpful. Last semester I took all my classes at the college, summer was a bit problematic, as some rooms were hard to get cool, and it's just harder in general in hot weather. This semest I took one three hour class that meets 2 days per week, and 2 online classes. This helped taking online classes but as other have already said, you have to be disaplined with your time and it's a bit harder than campus classes. I had all kind of worries but it has been a good experience.

Kim

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Like that quote...."Today is tomorrow I worried about yesterday, and all is well." Nice thought!

Here's my two cents... It all depends on you. How long can you sit up, walk? How frequently can you go out per week (without detriment to your overall level of function)? Are you a self-disciplined, critical reader? In-class courses are more physically demanding...at-home tutorial courses (online or print-based) are more intellectually demanding (because it's all you, you are both the student and the professor, with only the textbook to inform you about the topic). Both take about the same amount of study time. I've done both, but the traditional style only worked for me when I was healthy (pre-POTS). I'm all DL (distance learning), but it is slower this way because I get so sick of the books!! Having classmates and a superimposed schedule is a big help for pushing a higher pace...but not possible for me.

Hope you find your niche!

masumeh

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