Accommodations through Student Support Services help many students succeed
Ripon College’s Student Support Services offer various means of assistance to a wide variety of students. Federally funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s TRIO program, SSS strives to provide personal, academic and career services to students who are first-generation, low-income or learning/physically disabled, or any combination of the three.
Being a federally funded program, the SSS provides reasonable accommodations and services required to assist students on campus. These accommodations include assistance with note-taking; extended test time and alternative, quieter testing locations; and access to the computer programs Kurzweil, a textbook-reading program, and Dragon, a voice-to-text program. Programs like Kurzweil can aid many different types of students, from those with reading disabilities, such as dyslexia, to those with trouble seeing.
“Not all students require the same set of accommodations, and we are very motivated to support each individual student by ascertaining which accommodations will meet their needs,” says Lisa Zeman, associate director of SSS, McNair Scholars graduate school preparation program and disability services coordinator for SSS. Zeman meets weekly with many students on Ripon’s campus to offer support and to encourage students to be open with professors about their disabilities and unique needs.
“College is a different atmosphere from high school in that students have the choice whether or not to disclose their disabilities,” Zeman says. “Many do not, which is unfortunate as our goal is to level the playing field and provide equal access for all learning activities. We continually maintain open communications with professors to advocate for our students as they work through individual challenges as well as successes, and it is this level of support that Student Support Services students of all backgrounds appreciate and reflect positively on.”
SSS also offers extensive tutoring services. “Our tutoring program is the most widely used support service on the Ripon campus, and it is a tremendous asset to students with disabilities,” Zeman says. “Hundreds of students at Ripon College benefit from having a peer tutor every year. We emphasize that tutoring is analogous to practicing or preparing for a musical or athletic event. We take it for granted that people would practice early, often and regularly on a scheduled basis for those events with anticipated good results, but our American culture is oftentimes conditioned to see tutoring as a response to failure versus an opportunity to review and learn.”
Zeman says that the students who utilize the services of SSS learn to not let their differences limit their goals. “Ripon College has graduated students with disabilities who have gone on to graduate and medical school,” she says. “Some have become doctors, counselors, archaeologists and animal handlers, and work in finance and in professional sports offices, just to name a few.”
Megan Sohr ’18