Info for Students with LD
As students begin to think about life after high school, it is important for them to consider what their academic and social needs may be. The range of options for students include:
*Four-year College or University
*Two-year College (private or community college)
*Learning Disability Colleges
*Schools or Programs with Specialized Fees
*Post-graduate year at a Prep School
Continuum of Services at Two- and Four-Year Colleges
While many colleges and universities offer programs and services to meet the special needs of students with identified physical or cognitive disabilities (e.g., academic advising, tutorial support, special accommodations, etc.), the degree of support available for eligible students will vary from minimal federal compliance to full comprehensive programs.
Minimal Federal Compliance
All colleges and universities are required under Federal law (Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act) to provide reasonable accommodations to students who can provide evidence of a disability and the need for accommodation. Some colleges and universities only provide the basic level of accommodations (e.g., extended time, books on tape, etc.) to remain in compliance with the law. These schools typically have a designated ADA Coordinator who oversees all disability-related services and basic services are provided to students at no additional cost.
In the middle of the continuum are colleges and universities which provide “coordinated services” in addition to basic accommodations to students with learning and other disabilities. These schools typically have an office staffed with professionals with expertise or training in learning disabilities and provide students with tutorial support, advocacy training, faculty outreach, etc. The extent to which referrals and services are coordinated will vary from college to college. However, most services are provided to eligible students on a drop-in or by-request basis for no additional fee.
At the far end of the continuum are colleges and universities which have a specific “comprehensive program” for students with learning disabilities or AD/HD. These programs typically have a separate admissions process. Interested students must apply directly to the program in addition to submitting an application to the college’s admissions office. Features of a comprehensive program may include: the option to participate in a specialized summer program, regularly scheduled meetings with a learning specialist, specialized courses based on student’s diagnostic profile, reduced course load and assistive technology. These programs are almost always are fee-based.
Click on this link for more information from the US Department of Education on “Transition of Students With Disabilities To Postsecondary Education”
The College Search Process
Students on an IEP or 504 plan should work closely with their liaison and/or counselor in the junior year to begin the process of identifying their post-secondary goals, which options may be best explored, what type of support and/or program may be needed at the college level, and what testing and/or other information will be needed to support their request for accommodations or services. Suggestions for students:
* Take as many college preparatory, mainstream classes as possible while at L-S. This will help to prepare you for the academic demands and expectations of college level work.
* Learn to articulate what your strengths and weaknesses are. The better you know yourself, the better you will be able to advocate for what you need when you get to college.
* Think about how much and what types of support have been most beneficial to you at
L-S. How are your time management skills? How do you typically handle transitions or new situations? College students are expected to be independent: taking responsibility for their own learning, advocating for themselves and managing their time in and out of class. If you tend to need help with any of these things, then you might consider looking for a college that will help you develop these skills and/or support you during the transition to college.
* Visiting college campuses is very important! Do not rely solely on what you have heard from other people or read on the web or in guidebooks. You and your parents should visit both the admissions office and the disability support services office at each college to develop a well-informed opinion about the school and the appropriateness of its program for your interests and needs.
To Disclose or Not on the Application
It is a student’s decision whether or not to disclose his/her disability during the college application process. If a student is applying to a college’s comprehensive learning disabilities program, then documentation of the disability (usually cognitive and achievement testing administered within 3 years of application) will be required, along with a copy of the student’s IEP or 504 plan, for the application. However, if a student is applying to a college that offers coordinated services or minimal federal compliance, then documentation of the disability does not have to be submitted until after the student has been admitted and is requesting accommodations.
Although disclosure is not required at the time of application, it can be helpful during the admissions process for a college to have information about the student’s learning style, the nature of services received in high school and the type of support a student may or may not need in college. Students should talk with their counselor and/or case liaison to determine what strategy makes the most sense for them.
Waiving of Foreign Language Requirement
Some colleges that require foreign language for admission MAY be willing to waive this requirement for students who have a documented learning disability that directly affects the student’s capacity to learn a foreign language. The student would have to provide documentation of the learning disability (copies of cognitive and achievement testing administered within 3 years of application and a copy of a current IEP or 504 plan) with their application for admission. If a college waives the foreign language requirement, they typically expect that the student has taken other appropriate course work during high school to substitute for the years they did not study a foreign language. Furthermore, colleges that waive foreign language for admissions purposes may still require the study of a foreign language during the college years to meet college graduation requirements. It is important for students to check the admissions requirements for their colleges of interest to insure that they are prepared to meet those requirements.