"Get to know
early. That way,
if you have a
you need to ask
for an extension,
it’s not coming
out of the blue."
Corey Walker has big goals for himself, and he doesn’t intend to let his
disabilities get in the way.
Corey, who has a visual-perceptual disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome,
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and ADHD, is hoping to graduate this year
from the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) with a bachelor’s
degree in English and history. Corey admits his disabilities have made his
post-secondary career a challenge. He is completing his four-year degree
in six years because he “burned out” for a while, in part because of the new
skills and new environment he had to get used to when he started university.
Corey attended a small high school, where he knew all his teachers, and they
knew his needs. Additionally, he managed to remain a very well organized
person throughout high school. But he says that all fell apart when he got to
university. While the UNBC is a small school compared to other Canadian
universities, Corey still had to make an effort to get to know his professors.
In addition, he had to learn new time management skills, and to take effective
notes from lectures despite the fact he’s not an oral learner. The strain
made for a difficult first few months.
“I had to learn to adapt to basically a whole new education system, and a
whole new way of school,” he says. “Then there was the added challenge of
having to contact disability providers, and talking to professors about my
Rather than letting it get to him, Corey tried a variety of things to better
prepare himself for the rigors of university. He wrote all due dates in a
daybook, and drew up timelines to stick to for assignments. He says sometimes
those tactics worked, and other times they weren’t as effective for him.
He used a quiet room at the disability service centre on campus to work on
assignments, and frequently changed his study environments to avoid getting
restless by being in one place too long. He also participated in a session
being offered on how to succeed in university as a student with disabilities.
Ultimately, Corey’s methods have proven effective in allowing him to
He attributes a large part of his success to his ability to advocate for his
own needs. Because the UNBC is a small school, he says, there is only one
disability service provider. While she does a great job, she isn’t always
available to help right when he needs it. Corey has learned to combat this
problem by talking to his professors early in the semester, and bringing them
letters from the disability services office outlining his accommodation needs.
“Get to know your professors early,” he advises. “That way, if you have a
situation where you need to ask for an extension, it’s not coming out of the
Once Corey has completed his bachelor’s degree, he hopes to move on to
teacher’s college, and teach for a couple of years. From there, he intends to
get his Master’s degree in his first love – theatre.
“Be prepared for a shock,” Corey warns first-year post-secondary students.
“Realize your first year is going to be a transition year and will take some
adjusting. But also know that you will eventually get used to it.”