How To Spread Your Butterfly Wings & Be Successful in College

Getting accepted to college is a huge accomplishment. Many students wonder if they are prepared for the challenges they might face when entering college and feel worried about managing academic and personal life. The transition from high school to college can be intimidating, but there are many opportunities and resources available to help manage the transition. Individuals with Turner Syndrome (TS) may face a unique set of challenges when entering college and require additional support. It is important that students with TS can access help and support to allow them to be successful in college.

Tips for Academic Success

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Generally, the issues and concerns college students face can be grouped into three categories: academic, social, and financial. To learn more, we spoke with Renée Bailey, youth speaker and author of 18 Things College Students Need To Know. Ms. Bailey’s mission is to make sure today’s high school and college students are equipped to do their best, without unnecessary stress. She provided her top three general tips for incoming college students:

  • “Find at least one interest group, club, or Greek organization to join for social support and balance before you even step foot on campus.
  • “Investigate the academic resources that are available to you when you’re on campus: Does your department have a free tutoring program? If you have learning differences, how do you arrange the accommodations you need? What are the professors’ office hours, and how much time do they spend there? 
  • Always fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You’d be amazed at how many students don’t do this basic step towards funding their college education, thinking they’ll only be offered loans because their parents ‘make too much.’ If you don’t complete  this form, you’re not only cutting yourself off from federal student aid, but also from state aid and school-specific scholarships. Many times, those aid packages are based on FAFSA data.”

Resources To Help You Succeed

Individuals with TS may require additional resources to be successful in college. Ms. Bailey provided the following, sometimes underrated, resources and tips for students with TS entering college:

  • Professors: Make use of their office hours, and ask them questions via email and in class. They are there for a reason, and you are not bothering them. Take advantage of their time!
  • Academic counselors/advisors: They will help you figure out which courses you need to take. You should build a good relationship with them so they can give you personalized guidance on how to get your degree and what to do with it after you graduate. 
  • Financial aid counselors: They can help appeal your financial aid package with the university to get you more aid, if you need it. They can also point out other available resources for people with your particular circumstances and needs. 
  • Tutors: If you’re struggling in a course, get a tutor early on. Your department will usually have a list of tutors for the specific courses they teach, so make use of that.”
Renée Bailey, youth speaker and author

TS Butterflies in College

Ms. Bailey also provided the following tips for college students with TS:

  • Respect your family: They’re going to annoy you and maybe cling to you a little more than you would like as an adult. But they are your family and your main support system. Find kind ways to increase your personal space and maintain boundaries with them.
  • Make sure you’re not neglecting your health: Take advantage of student health and other resources on campus if you don’t have health insurance. If you do have health insurance, make sure you establish your local care team long before you move to the campus area. Know where the local ER or urgent care is, and use it if you need to. Don’t skip your medications.
  • Be an advocate for your learning needs. If you need extra test time, ask your professor or advisor how to request it. If you need a tutor, talk to your academic department. Go to office hours, and do everything you can to be the kind of student that professors not only know, but want to invest their energy in.”

Managing Stress

While academics are a major priority for most students, it is also vital to prioritize your mental and physical health to be successful in college. Here are Ms. Bailey’s top tips for managing stress: 

  • Take frequent breaks when studying: Use the Pomodoro Technique (35 to 50 minutes of studying, followed by a 10-minute break). Combine this with spaced repetition (repeating the material multiple times, with time in between – like a day or so). This will help you avoid burnout.
  • Give yourself ‘you time’ every day!: Do something for yourself every day that makes you feel like you’re taking care of  yourself (e.g., do your nails, give yourself a facial, watch your favorite TV show, read a book) – whatever lifts your spirits and makes YOU feel cared for.
  • Move!: Moving your body through exercise or stretching is key to your physical and mental health. So do some yoga, go on a ‘hot girl’ walk or run, play some soccer – whatever your favorite movement is, DO IT!
  • Meditate and journal: Give your mind the rest of quiet        meditation or unburdening through writing down your 
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thoughts on paper. This will allow you to feel relaxed and focused again.”

Taylor’s Educational Journey

Taylor, TSF volunteer

As a woman with TS who just graduated from college, I learned firsthand that taking advantage of resources is the best way to

set yourself up for success. Like many women with TS, I struggle with spatial awareness. This led to difficulties with my general chemistry class. At times, I felt very defeated, like I was putting in the effort to succeed but wasn’t getting the grade I wanted. It was clear I needed outside support, so I decided to contact the disability resources office. I was able to get extra time on my exams. I also took advantage of free tutoring available at my college and attended my professors’ office hours regularly.

This experience was probably the most valuable lesson I learned in college. If you are struggling, for whatever reason, do not be afraid to ask for help and be your own biggest advocate. College is meant to challenge you, so it is to your benefit to take advantage of every resource and support available to you.

Turner Syndrome Foundation Resources

The Turner Syndrome Foundation (TSF) also has resources available, including the Star Sisters support group. This private, online group has monthly meetings where individuals affected by TS can share their experiences and/or concerns. TSF also has a free recorded webinar, “Don’t Panic: College 101,” presented by academic advisor Helen Rhoads, M.S. Ms. Rhoads discusses important topics like the FAFSA and various academic and health resources available. 

We hope this information helps you be successful in college and realize your full potential. You can do it!

Written by Taylor Moore, TSF volunteer blog writer, and edited by Susan Herman, TSF Blog Coordinator. Designed by Jasmine Persaud, TSF volunteer blog designer.

© Turner Syndrome Foundation, 2022

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