My experience at Beacon College
Beacon College is a Special Needs college in the small town of Leesburg in Florida where they provide an academic curriculum and support services to the students with learning challenges like ADHD, dyslexia, and different learning differences. In my opinion, Beacon College is one of the most well-known and reputed colleges all across the United States for students who need to learn differently. I have spent three years at this college and highly recommend parents to allow their kids to pursue their dreams in a college like this where you can have a diversity of support over there.
In my case, I came to know about Beacon during my senior year at Maplebrook School in 2017/18. During that point in time, me and my parents were looking up for colleges in America where I could receive some sort of support both academically and personally with my learning challenges. However, my Principal and mentor at Maplebrook School, Mr. Ferrusi, suggested that we check out Beacon College. Taking this lead, we decided to visit there in the summer of 2018. When I visited Beacon in June 2018, I loved it at first sight. I mean I loved the college on my first visit over there since it had everything that I had wanted and the location of my classes, dining hall, and dorms were nearby so I could go there without any hassles. At the same time, I quite loved the weather in Leesburg as it was quite better than Maplebrook and New York.
After the campus visit to Beacon in 2018, we started the admission application process as my parents had also started preparing the paperwork in terms of the diagnosis of being a student with learning differences. At the same time, I was enjoying my senior year at Maplebrook and I was visualizing myself being a college student after this. Unfortunately, due to the delay in the application process, I was asked to take a 4 month’s extension at school in New York as a way to prepare myself for college which was quite helpful. Luckily, my application process at Beacon was completed while I was at school. Furthermore, I had an interview with the admission-in charge over the phone which went well and I got confident that I will get the call confirming my admission.
After the tele-interview with Beacon, I received a letter from them in my email confirming my admission. I was extremely happy and overjoyed with the news of my admission and so were my parents who were at a loss of words with joy and relief. With this, I returned home to India in December 2018 as I was required to receive a visa on my passport for college.
I started my Beacon journey on the morning of 17 January 2019 as I entered the Student Center to pick up my book from the bookstore. During my visit to the student center, I met a variety of faculty members like Dr. Davidson, Dr. Greenstein, Mr, and Mrs. Harding, Dr. Chandler, and Dr. Hagerty who helped me a lot to get used to the atmosphere and the environment of the college. Later, my fellow friends at college showed me around the campus and I specially remember the help given by a person called Haven who was the Orientation leader then. She did a great job in making me feel welcomed to the campus. In the end, I met my wonderful roommates at my apartment in RAP Hall.
During the first semester of my freshman year in college, I had taken classes like Art Appreciation, Learning Essentials and Self-discovery, Beacon Experience and Technology, and Global Environment. I enjoyed my classes except Technology and Global since I feel I am technology challenged. Apart from these subjects, I also loved another class known as College Composition where I had the opportunity to work on my writing skills. I also tried making more friends and having more fun with more off-campus activities.
During the second half of my freshman year in college, I had taken other classes like Writing Across the community, Math strategies, Critical Thinking, General Psychology, and Introduction to Humanities. Just like the first half of my freshman year, I had a great time gaining knowledge from these classes. But I had a torrid time with Math. even though I managed to pass Math with hard work and the help of my professor in the Math Lab. Nevertheless, Critical Thinking helped me a lot to think about everything analytically and develop logical thinking in my head. In the end, Writing Across the Community helped me to shape the style of my writing with the help of advertising and illustration essays so I can have a large diversity of topics to write on for the future.
Unfortunately, I was not able to proceed to my second year in college with my lack of credits. Which meant I have to repeat Technology and Global environment for the fall of 2020. Honestly, this did not shatter my confidence and I realized that to proceed to the second year of college I need to work harder on my subjects. During the session of 2019/20, I participated in classes like Rhetoric, Exploring Atlantic History, Myths & Legends, introduction to exercise and Wellness, and Humanities I. Well, my favourite subjects in the semester were Rhetoric and Introduction to Exercise and Wellness as I got the opportunity to learn about Physical education. In Rhetoric classes, I was able to work on my writing and communication skills where I was able to make a podcast for the first time.
In the middle of my classes in 2020, I had to return home to India due to Covid. Unfortunately, I had to attend online classes at home. To be honest, I did not like the idea of coming back home just in the middle of my classes and it took me a while to process that there is a public emergency going on at the moment and we need to stand up to fight this deadly battle of COVID with loads of precaution and safety. But it really was tough for me keeping awake till 2–2:30 in the night to attend my classes from India. The best part of this period was I had more time to spend with my family at home before returning to college in 2021.
As far as the second year in college was concerned, I was part of classes like Technology in Global Environment, Introduction to Sports and Physical Education, From Villages to Empires, and Fairy tales from Disney to Star Wars. I also had Gen Ed Math but I had to drop out of that class since I was not doing it quite well in that subject because I realized especially in a subject like Math online classes are not the best way to go in terms of education. Somehow, I had more fun with Fairy tales from Disney to Star Wars and introduction to Sports. Studying fairy tales from a completely different perspective was a new experience for me. With Introduction to Sports and Physical education, I was able to get good information about sports and physical education for personal execution. Overall, I had the most productive semester in college while being stuck at home in India.
In the second half of my second year in college, I was quite fortunate to be a part of classes like Florida Ecology & Conservation, Florida Ecology & Conservation Lab, Modelling Social and Cultural Construction, World Literature, and Beat Literature. During that semester, I learned something new from one of these classes to learn more about animals which I never expected. Through the help of Florida Ecology and Conservation, I was extremely lucky to gain more knowledge about the Burrowing Owl which is extremely famous in some parts of Florida. Eventually, from Beat Literature I was able to enlighten my knowledge of the literature from the 1950s where it had helped me to create a certain amount of versatility of topics to write on either for school or on my blog.
Thankfully, I returned to campus in the fall of 2021 for my third year in college. Over there, I took subjects like Creative writing, Human Rights & Global Justice, World Revolution and Gen Ed Math, and Career Exploration. During that semester, I enjoyed a lot in gaining knowledge from these classes. Unfortunately, I failed Math during that semester which meant I had to take that class again the next semester. Apart from this, Creative Writing and Human rights & Global Justice helped me a lot to gain more practice in my writing so I could try to capture the reader’s mind. In the end, Career Exploration helped me to explore what I shall try with my career as Sports Writer in the future.
In the meanwhile, I started the second quarter of my third year in college with loads of positivity on my mind. I had participated in classes like Career Planning, Thinking Politically, Reading Oppression and Freedom, and Gen Ed Math. As far the Career Planning class was concerned, it helped to expand my plans on how I can work toward my dream to be a sports journalist. I learnt a lot about making a resume and a cover letter for job applications. Thinking Politically and Reading Oppression & Freedom helped me to gain knowledge in historical topics which can give me more opportunities to write on these topics. Lastly, I worked hard on Gen Ed Math where I passed with flying colors. I had implemented a few strategies like writing my notes with a black marker, a file where I kept my notes, and using the high contrast theme on the computer in the math lab. With help of my professor, I was able to pass the class on the third attempt and I think I will never get tired of working hard on anything in life.
As I look forward to my final year in college in the fall of 2022 I feel there is a big difference between school and college. Hence, I feel college has made me realize that one needs to work exceedingly hard to achieve their goals. Well, thanks to support systems like the Writing Center, the center for student success, and the Counselling center have helped me a lot in what I am both academically and individually in my three years. At the same time, I also want to say to those who felt college was not the best thing for them, I strongly believe that you should see everything from a brighter side and start embracing what you have instead of crying about situations that did not go well for you.
In conclusion, I would like to thank my professors, learning specialists, Occupational therapists, and friends for all the support, love, and guidance over the three years at Beacon College. I hope the upcoming students and their families can reflect upon Beacon College as an option for both a career as well as life-expanding choice.