Grades and test scores aside, can a learning difference affect a student’s chance of acceptance?

College Admissions

Our Counselors Answered:

Grades and test scores aside, can a learning difference affect a student’s chance of acceptance?

Reecy ArestyCollege Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.

Grades and test scores aside, can a learning difference affect a student’s chance of acceptance?

it can be a positive or negative result, and it better be revealed completely on the application – or else!

Nancy MilneOwnerMilne Collegiate Consulting

Grades and test scores aside, can a learning difference affect a student’s chance of acceptance?

It shouldn’t. The issue is usually one of whether the transcript indicates there is a good match with the academic press. The rigor of your high school’s curriculum and your transcript are a very good predictor of academic success in college. Beyond that, a school can’t discriminate against you because you use a tutor, require the use of adaptive technology, or need any other accommodations.

Bill PrudenHead of Upper School, College CounselorRavenscroft School

Grades and test scores aside, can a learning difference affect a student’s chance of acceptance?

It shouldn’t, but in reality it is hard to know, and concerns about that fact have led to a division of opinion on whether or not students should admit on their application that they have a learning difference or disability. I have always believed that a student should disclose the information, that it is not something to hide, but is instead an important, but not defining, part of who they are and a recognition of the fact provides context for their overall record. However, there are those who fear that, the law notwithstanding, schools see it as a problem, one they do not want to deal with or are not staffed to deal with once the student gets on campus. Thus it may be a reason to deny a student admission. My experience has been to the contrary and I do think that it is in the applicant’s best interest to provide the admissions office with a full picture of who they are that includes full knowledge of the situation.

Lora LewisEducational ConsultantLora Lewis Consulting

Grades and test scores aside, can a learning difference affect a student’s chance of acceptance?

In a perfect world, as long as a student had the grades and test scores to demonstrate the strong likelihood that he or she would be successful at a particular college, disclosing a learning disability wouldn’t affect the chance of acceptance. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world, and there’s no way to gauge whether disclosure will influence the decisions of admissions officers. In some cases, it might even be a positive thing that a student is rejected based on his or her learning disability; if admissions knows, for example, that their college doesn’t provide the level of service a student would need, they can avoid setting a kid up for failure. But the reality is that applicants have no way of knowing how colleges will view their disclosure of a learning disability. This is why it’s very important to make smart decisions about whether or not it is in your best interest to disclose on your application. If your LD is the legitimate cause of lower grades in some subjects, sketchy test scores, or other weak patches in your academic career, it can be to your benefit to disclose. It can also show that you are mature in your approach to your learning needs, understand their impact on your education,and are proactive in advocating for yourself and your education (all of which colleges like). But if your grades and scores are strong and there are no “red flags” on your application that would catch the eye of admissions and perhaps be alleviated by the explanation that you have a learning disability, it makes more sense to withhold disclosure until after you’re admitted.

Lora LewisEducational ConsultantLora Lewis Consulting

Grades and test scores aside, can a learning difference affect a student’s chance of acceptance?

As with so many things in college admissions, it depends. Some schools don’t even maintain wait-lists. Some take several students from the list, some take very few. This is also true of individual schools from one year to the next. A college might take 15 students from the wait-list this year, but next year only take three. Your best bet is not to stress about your chances of turning that wait-list status into admitted. Express your ongoing strong desire to attend the school via a letter, then put your wait-list worry aside and focus on choosing from among the colleges that have already offered you a spot.