Seeing is Believing: My College Experience with Usher’s 1B

Megan Lengel, a recent college graduate and young adult with Usher syndrome, has offered to share with us her valuable experience attending college while dealing with Usher syndrome. 

by Megan Lengel

College is insane. Even for someone without Usher Syndrome, it can be the most hectic few years of life. The pressure seems to come from everywhere in college; students are expected to figure out their futures, form lifelong friendships, and make solid strides in their careers before graduation. For those with Usher’s (including me!) the pressures can increase tenfold with the added stressors of a degenerative disease that can affect performance in all these areas. I am writing to tell you that it CAN be done. I graduated from the University of Mary Washington in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a double major in Sociology. It took five years, but I am now done with my undergraduate schooling! I could spin an extensive tale about what a crazy ride college has been for me personally, but that’s for another time. I want to encourage all of you with Usher’s that are thinking of attending university or are currently enrolled with my journey and a few pieces of advice that either helped me or that I wish I had heard before starting college.

  • "In searching for colleges, I found that accessibility matters much more than the size of the school. I personally looked for smaller or medium-sized schools, as I struggle with social anxiety and generally hate large places with many people. "

  • "When looking for the right college, it is vital that you consider what you want to get out of your college experience. Some people prioritize socializing and getting to know the people on their campus, and others focus on their academics and career-oriented goals."

  • "Mentioning Usher’s on your application is entirely up to you. I had other things that I mentioned in my applications to various colleges. I may have mentioned Usher’s casually, but I don’t believe I wrote any of my applications about my disability"

  • "Registering for accommodations should start before you even decide to attend your selected school. You should have already had a preliminary meeting with the disability resources office, where you went over the accommodations you plan on requesting and how they can meet your needs and work with you to ensure a successful college career."

Types of Accommodations

  • "Determining housing is possibly the most important part of ensuring your comfort and success at university. As a person with a disability registered with the disabilities resources office, you should be on their short list of people to get first dibs on housing."

Working In A Science Lab

The Social Scene

  • "The social scene at college is not something you can always anticipate. It is entirely up to you how you want your social life to work. In your first few weeks, be sure to go to your university’s Club Carnival to learn about the organizations on campus."

I hope these tips and tricks have been helpful! College is not for the faint of heart. It made me a stronger person, and I am so grateful for all the experiences I had. Remember, this is your time to shine. Make the college experience something you are proud of. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. Touch base with your support system often. You can do this.

Photo by inbal marilli on Unsplash

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