This guest post is brought to us by Heather Jensen who is in association with Utah State University For many people who stutter, it begins between the ages of 2 to 4 years. Many of these people will then outgrow stuttering by 7 to 8 years of age. About 1% of the population, or about 3 million people in the United States alone, however, will not. While stuttering is not curable, it is manageable, and should never stop you from following your dreams, such as furthering your education. Instead, when it comes to college, you should learn how to work with your stutter, stick up for yourself, and to even embrace your stutter.
Be Prepared and Prepare Others
For most everyone, college is an exciting yet scary time, filled with a new environment, new people, and a new, often larger and more stressful workload. While stress and nervousness is not a direct cause of stuttering, it has shown to aggravate it for some people. Recognizing that such a big change may exacerbate your stuttering at first can help you prepare for it more. One way to minimize the pressure and anxiety that comes with stuttering is to let others know that you stutter up front. Trying to hide your stutter by avoiding certain words or by avoiding conversation altogether can be exhausting. Letting someone know that you stutter not only prepares the person, but is also a bold step that gives you the ability to deal with it on your own terms. Plus, you will usually find that most people in college are from all walks of life, and will have a higher level of maturity and acceptance.
Advocate for Yourself
Not every class you have will be a lecture with hundreds of students. Some of your classes may be smaller and discussion-based. In these particular classes, discussion participation can be a large part of your grade. Instead of taking a grade cut or trying to avoid these classes, speak to your professor. Introducing yourself to your professor can be a good idea regardless of your situation, but simply letting them know that you have a stutter, that it is not a big deal, but you may need some extra time to convey your thoughts, can assist them in understanding your situation. Some majors may require a Public Speaking credit. Many universities will offer alternatives for students who need it. Speak with your advisor about your concerns and options. You can also often find resources from the Communications Department if there is one at your university. You may even wish to speak with your university’s Disability Services.
Seek Out Support
Many universities offer opportunities for therapy at discounted or even free rates for students. You can also seek out support from others who live with stuttering, through groups like the National Stuttering Association (NSA), FRIENDS, local support groups, or possibly even groups or clubs through your university. The NSA has found that people who participate in support groups report fewer negative effects of stuttering, more successful speech, improvements in self-confidence, and more positive attitudes about speaking and stuttering.
Embrace Your Stuttering
Instead of allowing stuttering to discourage you from attending college, use it to get into college! Using your experiences with stuttering as inspiration for your application essay can help set you apart, and gives you the opportunity to express how dealing with stuttering has shaped you into the person you have become today.
Biography of guest writer: Heather Jensen is an Audiologist and Clinical Assistant Professor for Utah State University. She received her Doctorate of Audiology from Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2004. She has been an adviser for the student academy of audiology organization at USU for 11 years. Before coming to USU, she owned her own private practice, but decided she wanted to give back to the field of audiology by teaching students. When she’s not working she spends time with her four children, she also enjoys doing hearing related humanitarian missions.