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Zach, College Graduate

Photo of Zach Ball

“After I graduated high school, I decided to stay for one more year before I started college.  I enrolled in a high school cooking program that let me learn and practice my skills before I started college.  It was a fantastic program – not only did it let me test out my area of interest, we actually visited the college I was going to the next year and met with many of my future teachers.  The experience helped me build up my skills and confidence for college, and took some of the unknown out of the process.

I really enjoyed my college experience, and it was a big stepping-stone for me as I developed my mindset, social and personal skills, and career goals.  I definitely faced some challenges – like managing my time and working with students who didn’t understand my disability, but overall for me, I liked college better than high school.  My instructors were more understanding of my disability and they were great at teaching students with all sorts of different learning styles. My favourite part of college was having the freedom not only to pursue the program I wanted – Culinary Arts – but I also had more control over my course choices, for example I was able to focus more on cooking than on baking.

My advice to future college students would definitely be to register with Accessibility Services to get accommodations.  There was a lot of paperwork and it felt overwhelming and stressful at times, but the staff helped me through it all and it became a lot easier in future years.  I also chose to tell some of my instructors more details about my disability, and if you feel comfortable and trust your teacher, I think that’s a good idea as well, because sometimes they can provide extra help or support in teaching the way you learn.  I do wish I used more of the services available to me, such as First Generation services, because I was first in my family to go to college and I think some more support would have been helpful.  Also, I do wish I spent maybe a little more time on social events, to help balance my stress and make the most of my time at college.

I’m really happy that I went to college – to be able to learn and explore my interests in a professional setting while gaining new skills put me on the path to success in my career field. It was a great experience – and it can open doors and give new experiences for any student out there.”

- Zach Ball, College Graduate