Let’s face it—navigating college (from the application process to graduation of undergraduate or graduate studies) is intimidating and unnerving; doing so as an individual who is blind or low vision can be even more challenging due to additional considerations, preparations, measures, and uncertainties. But take heart! Envision’s College Success Program is here to support those who are blind or low vision navigating college if and when support is desired.
The truth is, the road to and through college needn’t be walked alone, and it isn’t unchartered territory. Think of Envision’s College Success Program like a personal GPS…except the navigation is provided by real people with personal experience. So, it’s more like a sherpa on your Mt. Everest trek. Meet your guide.
Envision, Supporting College Students and Prospective College Students
To find out how Envision supports students, let’s cover questions you may have.
What is Envision’s College Success Program?
Envision’s College Success Program (CSP) is a community where current and prospective college students who are blind or low vision can connect with each other, mentors, and staff. The program shares resources and information on all aspects related to the college experience. Relevant topics include preparing for college, obtaining Orientation and Mobility on campus, navigating the social scene, discovering technology, exploring majors, mastering the application process, and more.
CSP offers monthly webinars, podcasts, events, and mentorship. Additionally, CSP has a Facebook group and twice- monthly meetings for students to call in and talk to peers, run by sherpas…I mean, mentors.
Can you tell me more about the mentorship program?
Mentorship is a valuable component of the College Success Program. All the mentors are relatively recent college graduates who are blind or low vision; in other words, the mentors have the knowledge and expertise learned via experience. They have a wide range of former studies (athletics, STEM, social work, etc.) and experiences.
Mentors and mentees are matched based on technology used, shared interests, and skill-set compatibility. Together, they work on establishing goals and planning how the mentee can achieve their ultimate goal of graduating post-secondary education and finding employment.
To be matched with a vetted and trained mentor, join the College Success Program and request a mentor through the dashboard. The time from submitting a request to matching with a mentor is approximately two weeks. Once matched, the structure of the relationship is individualized. Thankfully, distance and time constraints are an almost non-issue: mentorship is flexible, unstructured, and virtual. Mentors and mentees meet regularly via phone, text and/or email throughout the semester.
Who is eligible?
Envision’s College Success Program is for any aged individual who is blind or low vision and interested in attending college. Whether seventeen and preparing for college or other post-secondary education or seventy and attending a graduate program, CSP is worth consideration.
How can I sign up?
You can sign up for the College Success Program at Envision College Success Program (collegesuccessbvi.org). Applicants will simply submit basic information—no fees or strings attached.
Once registered, one can access a personalized dashboard displaying all resources, meetups, and email lists.
Anything else I need to know?
CSP offers a robust set of resources covering a wide variety of topics. Don’t miss the summer workshops; workshops are an opportunity for students to interact and discuss topics of interest such as books, movies, mindfulness, or other hobbies.
If you have specific questions, reach out to CSP@envisionUS.com.
Let’s hear from a Mentor and Mentee
Preston Radtke is a mentor with CSP.
He works in instructional design and accessibility and is a handler of a dog guide. Preston was motivated to become a mentor a year and a half ago because he had a mentor who is blind who showed him the ropes in college. He recognizes college can be overwhelming and it’s often helpful to bounce ideas with others who have “been there” and to receive constructive guidance. Preston currently works with three college mentees and says, “It’s a mutually rewarding experience. I am able to improve my communication skills, and I enjoy seeing the growth of advocacy and confidence in my mentee relationships.”
Ilire Goca is a mentee with CSP.
She is a senior at Cookstown, studying to be a teacher for students with visual impairments at a school for the blind. She receives accommodations such as extended time on tests and accessible word documents. She stated, “I learned about CSP in 2018. I’m proud to be paired with a mentor who is also blind—we can relate to each other and I have been provided with suggestions that have alleviated frustrations and inaccessibility. I’ve received information about scholarships and meetups, as well as gained experiences with cooking and finding employment.”
If, like Preston and Ilire, you believe CSP may be a good fit for you or a loved one or student, visit College Success Program (collegesuccessbvi.org) today. Because college needn’t be tackled alone.
To learn more about Envision’s College Success Program’s all-virtual, holistic support system that helps guide students as they transition from high school to college, watch the APH ConnectCenter webinar:
You’ll hear from program staff and from mentors and mentees as they share personal insights and successes.
- APH ConnectCenter Transition Hub, is a one-stop, easy-to-use, searchable resource of transition programs across the United States.
- Perkins’ Compass Program Prepares Students for College Success – CareerConnect (aphcareerconnect.org), a nine-month virtual program for students in 9th through 12th grade, as well as their families and educators. Rather than a set curriculum, Compass uses a coaching model to work with students at an individual level.
- How Does a College Degree Impact Your Working Future If You Are Blind or Have Low Vision? – CareerConnect (aphcareerconnect.org)