"Keep a well
your goals and
stick to them,
stay away from
Shawn Smith is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of
Prince Edward Island, majoring in history with a minor in political science.
He is interested in education and plans to work towards an education degree.
Shawn is also a student with a learning disability.
When it came time to make the transition from high school to postsecondary
school, Shawn felt there was no other place he would rather be
than the University of Prince Edward Island. Born and raised on the Island,
he had no difficulty finding information about UPEI. “On a small island
everyone knows about everyone and everything,” says Shawn.
Shawn took some very important steps to prepare for the transition process
from high school to post-secondary. His uncle, the Dean of Arts at UPEI,
and his high school guidance counselor acted as a team in Shawn’s transition
process. Academically, Shawn got ready early by obtaining a tutor for
English classes before he started university. He also attended a student orientation
session at the university and visited the campus before classes started.
During his first year at university, he took an excellent course that helps first
year students improve their study techniques. This course explains how to
produce a well-written paper, and gives students a chance to share tips for
first-year success. Shawn highly recommends this course to new students.
Shawn also took advantage and still takes advantage of the writing centre at
UPEI. This centre helps with the proofreading of students’ papers and with
brainstorming essay ideas.
Shawn says there have been few changes in his learning strategies from yearto-
year. He stresses that the trick is to set up basic and positive patterns right
from first year. “Keep a well organized schedule, set your goals and stick to
them, keep yourself positive and stay away from the television,” he advises.
Shawn has had a positive experience with the disability center at UPEI,
and with all of his professors. He says the professors have been excellent in
providing accommodations for his disability.
Shawn says he has been very lucky to have his grandparents help him financially
with university. He also receives provincial loans, and works during
the summer months to help afford tuition. These steps ensure that Shawn
does not have to work during school, giving him time to concentrate on his
Shawn says his experiences at university have been similar to those of nondisabled
students. “There are good times and there are bad times, you just
have to work through them,” he says. Shawn advises students “if you work
hard and you don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t succeed at postsecondary
school, you’ll make it through.”