Self-advocacy is referred to as the ability to articulate one’s needs and make informed decisions about the supports necessary to meet those needs (Strodden, as cited in Test et al., 2005).

As an ACE Pillar, Self-Advocate is the ability to effectively communicate, convey, negotiate, or assert one’s own interests, desires, needs, and rights. The goal of self-advocacy is for YOU to decide what you want, and then develop and carry out a plan to get it — the act or condition of representing oneself, either generally in society, or formal proceedings.

Standing up for oneself is not always easy, but it is a critical skill for students to develop. There is a tendency for students to accept whatever the professor says, even if they don’t agree, or know it’s not correct. Professors are not always right; grades are not always fair and learning how to contest an unfair grade appropriately, or the ability to influence a different desired outcome effectively builds confidence.

Self-advocating is not only about grades in college. The ability to represent oneself, or one’s views or interests becomes increasingly more important when one enters the workforce. Whether you are applying for a job, negotiating a raise, speaking on behalf of someone being mistreated, or stating your political views, it takes courage and conviction.

The role of the ACE Coach is to use the inquiry methodology to help the student determine if he/she is unrealistic, blaming, or has accurately stated the facts. Again, the role of the ACE Coach is not to give advice or state a position of right or wrong. The student must stand up for what they believe is the correct thing to do and follow through. They also must learn to accept the outcomes and consequences of their decisions — what better way and place to practice and hone these skills than in college.