Success For All: Support Systems at Rowan and Where to Find Them

If your student has a documented disability, sending them to college without an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) may feel downright scary. 

Lisa Wilner, parent of a College of Education graduate student in the Higher Education program, wants to flip the script. 

“[Parents] need to understand that universities are not abandoning the IEP resources that your child had,” she said. “Your job is to teach your child to use the resources that exist and to find the proper university for your major that has the resources. Rowan has them.” 

Lisa is a featured speaker for the Academic Success Center’s College Prep Transition Conference and a parent network member with Rowan’s Autism PATH program, which aims to strengthen employment outcomes and networking opportunities for neurodiverse students and alumni. 

Lisa’s tips, gleaned from five years at Rowan with her son, Ben — who also earned his undergraduate degree in Music from the College of Performing Arts — offer a parent’s take into the university’s academic and wellness resources.

  • “If you have a student with a disability, you should register them with the Academic Success Center, even if you don’t think they’ll need it. If they think they can get extra test-taking time at the Testing Center, and they didn’t register and they ask the professor, they’re still going to have to take that test. It’s not like they can change it instantly. To register with the Academic Success Center, they need their senior year or [most recent] documentation of disability.” 

  • “I highly recommend the College Compass [transition to college] program. Students come in early, before the rest of freshmen students, and they get familiar with the school. They get comfortable, before everything starts to happen. And whether your student is on the [autism] spectrum, has ADD, has emotional issues, no matter what challenges, it gives them a comfort zone within the school.”

  • “Register with Academic Success Center to work with an academic coach. I look at it as an insurance policy. If they never use it, that’s wonderful. But if they need it and you didn’t register them, you’re going to have issues because you can’t go backwards.”

  • “This is for all students — drop-in and math tutoring and writing labs, all students have [access to] those. We just have to teach our children to utilize the services.” 

  • “[Students] have to build relationship with professors. Meet your professors. They have to know who you are by name. They have to go to their office hours. Get their email. When your student gets their accommodation letter, give it to the professor on day one, trust your student to do that.”

  • “Your student needs to utilize Blackboard and check their email. I get more calls from parents saying my son’s crashing because he never checked his email. Some students are really good about that, others aren’t. A lot of professors [also] communicate through smartphones.” 

  • “The first two weeks of the semester and right before finals, your student will be freaking out. They will be a stress mess. So whatever their stress relief is, tell them to do it … it could be the gym or to just breathe. Rowan has something that is very unique — they have one counselor [at the Wellness Center] who specializes with working with students on the [autism] spectrum, ADD and such.”
Lisa Ann Wilner with son Ben Wilner at home
Lisa Ann Wilner with son Ben (left) at home.

Lisa’s final tips: “Your student knows more than you think they know. You just have to get them to advocate for themselves. At this point, we’re letting the student go. We’re their emotional support and their encouragement. Rowan is their scholastic support.”

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