How should I go about my initial search if I am disabled?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

How should I go about my initial search if I am disabled?

Dawn Smith

How should I go about my initial search if I am disabled?

Start with a visit to the school and take note of things such as the terrain, ease of navigating the campus and accessibility of the school’s major facilities (dorms, classrooms, dining hall, student union, library, etc.).  When scheduling a college visit, a student with a disability should also make an appointment with someone in the disability office to learn about the services offered, the cost, staffing, the number of students registered with the office, and documentation required in order for the student to receive assistance.  Inquire whether there are other students with similar physical conditions on campus.  If so, the prospective student should try to meet with someone who can speak directly to the experiences and challenges of college life with a physical disability.  One should seek candid responses with respect to fit, social acceptance, support and ease in navigating the college campus.

Robin Smith

How should I go about my initial search if I am disabled?

It's a good idea to register with the local Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) office.  In addition to ensuring that disabled students receive the rights and protections to which they are entitled, VESID will provide training and resources to assist students in achieving independence in school and work.  Students registered with VESID are eligible to receive text books and other required course materials free of charge (up to a pre-determined limit).  In some cases, other support services may be covered, including transportation to and from college and personal aides.

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

How should I go about my initial search if I am disabled?

Harness the power of the Internet before making any trips to colleges. Disabilities take many forms, or course, so you will want to read information from the specific college of your choice to see what accommodations are available for you. Most have made quite an effort to enable you to discover their services online. Another way is to speak with your secondary school's guidance department about feedback they have received from previous grads with disabilities. You should make a target list of schools just as any candidate would. Depending on what you find out about its accommodations, you will wind up adjusting that list. Remember, so much of your initial research can be conducted without going onto a particular campus. But don't deny yourself that pleasure - and it should be a pleasurable experience.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

How should I go about my initial search if I am disabled?

if you have your own counselor to work with you, your counselor may set up interviews with the admissions office and other people. that's the best way to go. if you do not have a counselor, you should visit schools with other seniors or classmates to gain different perspectives. if your parents are helpful and able to share their perspectives with you, you should consider their inputs seriouly. if you have college friends, they can help you with their experiences as well.

Helen Cella

How should I go about my initial search if I am disabled?

Research the schools that have the best reputation for helping students with your particular disability.

Tam Warner Minton
Consultant College Adventures

Disabled Students

If you are physically disabled or have a chronic illness, you need to do research to find out if the college will happily accommodate your needs. Make sure the college you eventually choose is understanding about your condition. For Learniing Different students, there are questions you need to ask before your search. 1. Do you need accommodations only? 2. Do you need a comprehensive support program? 3. Perhaps you need a college dedicated to the Learning Different Student. All three are available. On my blog (www.collegeadventures.net/blog) I have written quite a bit about LD students, from ADD to Asperger's Syndrome. Take a look at http://collegeadventures.net/blog/category/college-for-learning-different-students/

Shannon O'Brien
Counselor Palatine High School

How should I go about my initial search if I am disabled?

The search you conduct will depend on if you plan to disclose your disability to colleges/universities. If you plan to disclose then you need to be aware of a college/universities services for you. Most of your smaller, private schools will offer more support and in a structured way. Larger colleges/univeristies will offer services, but they seem to offer the same types of services to all students. Another way to seek support/services is directly working with professors. Again, if you disclose to them the nature of your disibility and refer to your IEP document, then you have the paperwork to show what your needs are.

Donovan Blake
Lead Consultant Griffin Blake Educational Consulting

How should I go about my initial search if I am disabled?

Your first priority should be to look at schools that offer your major. The second step is to throughly research each schools disability support services. If a school does not offer services that will support your needs, then you should cross them off of your list. Peterson's Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities is a great place to start. You can also check out LD online, to get a list of schools with great support services.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

How should I go about my initial search if I am disabled?

The fundamental process is no different, but students with disabilities do need to determine what the exact extent of the school’s effort and accommodations will be. Given the nature of the Americans With Disabilities Act there are certain things that every school must provide, but some are certainly more involved and active than others. Indeed, some schools are making a point of being particularly open to and supportive of students with learning disabilities—it is their niche--and so obviously those schools are ones that student with disabilities might find even more attractive. Ultimately an applicant for whom this is a concern must do their research and ask the right questions.

Kathleen Harrington
Owner New Jersey College Consulting

How should I go about my initial search if I am disabled?

Both four year and two year colleges offer disability services to students in need of assistance. The most important thing to keep in mind when a special needs student is researching potential colleges is the type of disability program he/she will need to be successful in their post-graduate years. The two programs: Structured vs. Self-Directed. A structured program offers above and beyond what is dictated by the government through Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. This program typically has an additional if not entirely different application process that requires documentation that accommodations and/or modifications are needed. A self-directed program typically does not require an additional application and is more than likely handled through the Office of Disability Services. The structured program is much more hands on with the special needs student.