The Belin-Blank Center piloted its Academy for Twice-Exceptionality in Fall 2021. After decades of success with our first university-based program, the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy, discussions began on how to create a program that supports twice-exceptional college students at the University of Iowa. The inaugural cohort consisted of two students. The main emphasis was on weekly meetings and a few social events. Although the cohort was small, they provided us with excellent input and experience as we planned for Fall 2022.
Fast forward to today, and there are now seven students in the Academy! The program has expanded beyond weekly meetings to monthly group workshops, more regular social events, communication with families (every three weeks), a Spring Family Weekend, and plans for additional staffing. In the past year, we more clearly detailed the student support framework to address academic, practical living, executive functioning, and social/emotional skills. A scope and sequence have been drafted to focus on the varied needs of students in their first year through their graduation year. Topics include understanding a syllabus, finding classes on campus, email communication, planning for job fairs, and applying for jobs and/or graduate school. The University of Iowa campus is rich with student-centered resources. We have established many partnerships, such as with Student Disability Services, University of Iowa Libraries, Housing & Dining, the Career Center, and Admissions.
In January, we surveyed the current cohort and received our first glimpse into the program’s effectiveness. All seven students responded “somewhat agree” or “strongly agree” to the following questions:
- The program has helped me advocate for myself.
- The program has helped me challenge myself to take more safe/healthy risks.
- The program has helped me with interacting with others at the University of Iowa.
- Setting goals in the program has helped me accomplish what I had hoped.
- During the weekly one-on-one meetings, I receive useful ideas and suggestions to try on my own.
- During the weekly one-on-one meetings, I receive useful support to help me reach my goals.
None of the students responded “somewhat disagree” or strongly disagree” to any of the fourteen survey questions about the intended support framework provided.
College is a journey. The Belin-Blank Center is committed to joining students whose profile requires some additional support to get to a desired destination. When asked what they enjoyed best about participation in the program, one student responded, “I have enjoyed meeting more and more people who are in the same boat as me.” The University of Iowa is an incredible “boat” that is full of opportunity, and the Belin-Blank Center is committed to assisting these students as they steer their own boat.
Learn more about the Academy of Twice-Exceptionality on our website.