College Readiness Program
College Readiness Program conducted by the Office of Learning Support (OLS) has benefitted more than 800 people from over 40 cities, representing 10+ disabilities over the last four editions. The office successfully concluded the fourth edition of this flagship program in the first week of February 2023. This program is now being seen as a catalyst in building capacity and strengthening the educational ecosystem for learners with disabilities. Many new collaborative relationships have stemmed out of this flagship initiative, giving OLS the opportunity to go far and wide, beyond the Ashoka ecosystem to establish inclusion in higher education as the norm.
The program is a biannual virtual learning series designed exclusively for high school students with disabilities. The program is divided into three modules, covering topics such as the importance of self-awareness, navigating college applications, and job opportunities, using assistive technology to facilitate the higher education journey, accessibility, creating a support system, and the need to self-advocate for one’s needs. The sessions seek to equip students with tangible skills that prepare them for the transition from high school to college and to become future-ready. The program engages various stakeholders – schools, career counsellors, parents, students, disability experts, and professionals.
The sessions in the latest edition of CRP included a keynote address, interactive discussions, assistive technology demonstrations, reflective presentations, and lively panel discussions. Ashoka’s Outreach and Admissions teams also presented on this platform for the first time. They spoke about the variety of disciplines offered, as well as the steps Ashoka takes to ensure that the needs of diverse learners are fulfilled.
The program has enabled the community that learns and unlearns together, building a safe space to share knowledge and resources related to college readiness for learners with disabilities. It has evolved to become an impactful and community-driven initiative spearheaded by the OLS. This can be seen in the resulting ripple effect – the students, parents, and professionals who had participated in the previous editions are connecting with each other, starting their own initiatives, creating support groups, and sensitizing communities around them.
One really interesting part of the College Readiness Program was the last part, where students of Ashoka University itself were invited. They were talking about their own experiences and how, basically, they transitioned from school to college. I would say it was a great thing because many students who have different disabilities and different sets of
problems, they don’t know even if they are told that there are facilities for you to do things. But they don’t know how to avail them. But if they find a person or listen to a person who is similar to them or has similar disabilities or similar set of problems, they can relate and it motivates them to think, “If they can do it, I can too”.
Honestly speaking it was something I was always looking for, A platform where all the answers one was always searching for could get a went. World at large is unable to comprehend the issues and requirements of specially abled children. Students and speakers from various fields gave a great insight into many things. Overall, it was a wonderful program.
Well-coordinated and comprehensive. Helpful checklists for awareness, advocacy, decision making. Lived experiences to learn from and be energised by.
It was all very informative and useful. The insightful part was to the students speaking of their journey and how they navigated the system. It was also amazing to hear the parents.. and their fight for themselves and or their children. It brought to fore the importance of the very reason Ashoka chose to take this series – the need to create awareness and policies for easier transition for these children into adult learning and life.
Wonderful insights and information shared by all – speakers, parents and professionals. Such platforms vigorously widen your knowledge and make you aware of so many things related to special needs. I too have a Special needs child and such interactions make you feel you are not alone!
-Parent and Professional
It was a well-planned program with a good mix of theoretical and practical knowledge, the topping on the cake was the third module, wherein, students with disability shared their experiences and the also parents of children with disability shared their journey. Listening to them makes it so much real and it no more looks like things are not possible.
Peer Learning Support Programme (PLSP)
The Peer Learning Support Programme started out as an interactive platform based on a mentor-mentee framework, where senior-year students provide one-on-one assistance and guidance to junior-year students who are facing difficulties with navigating several aspects of their academic journey at Ashoka. Till now, the PLSP has had more than 100 students as volunteers to be mentors and guide their fellow Ashokans in having a more fulfilling university life. The PLSP also received the award “Creative and Entrepreneurial Initiative” from the Office of Student Affairs.
The PLSP continues to evolve and has now branched out into many opportunities for Ashoka students to volunteer or work with the Office of Learning Support with the larger goal of facilitating the inclusion and integration of students with diverse disabilities into the Ashoka ecosystem.
Messages from Mentees for their Mentors
Having you as my peer mentor this semester has been an absolute pleasure. I can’t thank you enough for always being so patient with me and for answering all my queries with eagerness. Your constant virtual presence has been reassuring, and something that proved to be absolutely necessary for getting my ship across the wild sea that my first semester at Ashoka was. Thank you for making things a little easier than they were for me.
Thank you for standing by and looking out for me throughout the entire semester. You were always there to listen to even the smallest of inconveniences without ever dismissing them. I can’t thank you enough for your guidance and I know I would never have survived my first months of uni without you. Thank you so, so much! I wish you all the best for what’s out there and I hope you receive just as much support as you’ve given out in everything that you do and so much more. I’ll be cheering you on!
I’m incredibly grateful for all of your help this semester. Just starting out at college, especially in an entirely online mode, was daunting and puzzling to say the least. However, your guidance and patient consideration made it so much better! Thank you so so much for your prompt responses to all my queries, your helpful suggestions, and most importantly, your kind support throughout the last few months! Genuinely thankful for all of your efforts and hope to see you on campus soon!
– Mentee 3