Ask yourself if you want to be like everyone else and have the same opportunities. The only option for me where I lived was Oakland in Michigan, there weren’t too many programs so I went there. Look at what you want from a college and where it is.
Going to conferences on college might help: helped me learn what is out there at different colleges, and helped me in meeting new people and learn about what experiences they have had.
You have to want to go to college and see what there is for you to participate in. There are many things you can choose from for your college experience.
- Visit colleges before you make a choice, if can’t then call and see what they have and what you have to do.
- One program had dorm living but only one section for those with disabilities so I didn’t want that.
- Is college for everyone, you should go and visit and see. Some people might like idea of college but it is a big thing to come and it can be hard work.
- You’re on campus sometimes late completing homework or out socially.
- It’s important to go on a tour before you pick the college you want.
Housing: where do you want to live? Some colleges may not have housing and you have to find it off campus. You should know when you apply the answer but may have to ask specific questions on where is best for you.
Finding friends to hang out with: finding people or groups with same interests, like going to sports, lunch, meals. Are there programs for students with disabilities? At Syracuse, we have peer to peer or groups like Best Buddies. Sometimes at colleges there are fairs where there are different clubs, activities to participate in.
Taking classes: you have to go on the website or look through a catalog to see what is open. Some colleges you can pick between a few classes that were offered. At Syracuse, I was able to take any class I wanted to.
Micah Fialka-Feldman is a self-advocate, teaching assistant, outreach coordinator, national speaker, and pioneer who fights for disability pride, justice, and inclusion. He is part of the first wave of adults with intellectual disabilities attending college and has been fully included in school and community. In 2008, Micah won a federal lawsuit which upheld his right to live in the university dorm. Micah earned a certificate in Disability Studies from Syracuse University in 2015. Micah currently lives in Syracuse, NY, where he co-teaches classes in inclusive education and disability studies. He is an outreach coordinator at the Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education. In May of 2014, Micah was appointed by President Obama to President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. He is featured in Dan Habib’s new documentary film, Intelligent Lives. For information on Syracuse University, you can visit the website.