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.

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours

Buy a college guide for LD students.

Begin your search like all other students by determining what elements will make a good academic, social and financial fit for you. Become aware of what a disability support office is on a college campus. Schedule an appointment with a DSS office at a school near you and learn about how you will take your LD to college and succeed.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Disability and the College Search

An independent educational consultant may be your best starting point. There are guidebooks (The K&W Guide), information on websites, and your current educational providers to look to for information. Obviously the specific disability may drive your search. A mobility impairment presents a different set of circumstances than someone with dyslexia. Knowing what you will need to experience success in college is key. It will be up to you to advocate for yourself once you are on campus, so there is no time like the present.

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.

Lisa Carlton

Resist The Temptation -Don't Start With Disability Programs

I love this question! I always tell my students with disabilities to start the college search process the same way any student would. 1. What are my interests? academic interests? personal interests? 2. What kind of college do I imagine attending? big/ small? public/private? 3. Are there particular colleges do I want to learn more about? 4. Do I want to be close to home or far away? 5. Do I prefer lecture based classes or interactive classes? Use these initial questions to guide your search. Once you have a glimpse of what you are looking for in a college, then also look at the Disability Support Services. I find many students and parents do the reverse process. I caution you to resist this temptation. There are many, many wonderful colleges with good disability programs. Don't sell yourself short by only defining the process in terms of your disability, find a few colleges that really excite you and then review their disability programs.

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 ( I have written quite a bit about LD students, from ADD to Asperger's Syndrome. Take a look at

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

Disability and the College Search

The ADA has laws that ensure that a person with disabilities have all of the same access as one without. So search based on your academic and personal interest not your disability. Remember you are a human being with a set of different abilities and if I am not mistaken that is just like the rest of the world. So once you have chosen your college I recommend you go to the Disability office if you need special accomodations so they can be in place when you arrive for classes.