Should students disclose a disability on the admission application?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

Should students disclose a disability on the admission application?

Jane McClure
Partner McClure, Mailory & Baron Educational Counseling

Should students disclose a disability on the admission application?

Here is my video response to the question.

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours

The art of self-disclosure

It is my opinion that a student's application should display a student's strengths. If a student presents a well rounded application without disclosing then I feel that self-disclosure has no place on an application. Disabilities that show up on an academic transcript in the form of a poor grade may be best addressed in a counselor recommendation provided that the student has worked hard and the counselor has positive comments to add.

Owner Ellen Richards Admissions Consulting

Einstein and Mozart had ADHD, but the controversy over the disease continues

The common diagnosis of ADHD has increased consistently over the past few years. A recent study at the University of Central Florida concluded that people with ADHD are most notably more "fidgety' than others when trying to concentrate or focus. For example, they split up a group of boys - some with and some without ADHD - and asked them to watch the movie. The results showed that the groups remained basically still because they didn't have to actively think while watching the film. On the other hand, when students with ADHD become bored or must concentrate on a subject that does not interest them, the become fidgety as though attempting to take themselves and their brains up so they could focus. In fact, many people diagnosed with ADHD have higher intelligence than those who do not. In fact, evidence of hyperactivity has been documented in great thinkers like Einstein and Mozart. Some argue that students need pharmaceuticals in order to get their focus in check; they perceived ADHD as a problem and wanted to fix it it. This realization ushered in an entirely new market for pharmaceutical companies. This argument begs the question: how did people who suffered from hyperactivity cope so well before the dawn of miracle druges that prevent them from moving too much while attempting to focus? One must consider the option that perhaps drugs are not necessary to help children learn. A few high schools exist that cater to students with ADHD, most notably the private school named Charlotte Country Day in Virginia, offer a better learning environment for students who have trouble concentrating. They maintain small class sizes and zero in on individual attention. The students respond overwhelmingly positively to this tupe of learning environment and find that they have mastered the skills necessary to succeed in college. Perhaps instead of comparing the ADHD of today to that from years ago, researchers and educators should take the problem at face value and expect nothing les than what past leaders offered the the world. By teaching the students to cope without medication we will not rob them of their creativity, but perhaps foster it so they can feel energized rather than "dumbed down."

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

I don't believe it makes a big difference

many schools will not require you to disclose your special needs situation. if the school does offer programs to help students like you, the school will know what to look and how to connect students to the program. make sure you pay a visit to investigate the program first.

Tam Warner Minton
Consultant College Adventures

Disclosing on your application

It depends. If you are going to request accommodations after you are accepted, there is no need to disclose your disability during the application process. Many times disabled students, whether physical or learning, write an essay about their difference, thereby disclosing the disability on an essay. Research the college and if you question whether they have the services you need, check it out before applying.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Disability Disclosure? Yes, It Is Part of Who You Are

There is some division on this question. I have always believed that a student should disclose the information, that the disability is not something to hide, but is instead an important, but not defining, part of who they are and 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 staffed to deal with once the student gets on campus, and thus may use it as a reason to deny 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 disability.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Should students disclose a disability on the admission application?

Disclosing a disability on the application is totally up to you. If you feel it will help explain something that might otherwise be confusing, then definitely use the opportunity to clarify. Schools can not hold a disability against you when evaluating your application, so you don't need to worry about that. If the availability of certain support services will be critical to your success on campus, then the application is the place to make that known. If you haven't done you homework to see if the campus can support your needs, and you don't tell anyone about your disability, you may be disappointed once you are on campus. Again, if you feel after 4 years of high school you have things under control and don't want to disclose a disability; go for it.

Mary Mariani

Should students disclose a disability on the admission application?

If there is a direct question asking whether there is a disability or not, the answer is yes. If not and there is an opportunity to talk about it, I would do so. I have always believed that being honest about one's learning needs is very important. If the institution can make accommodations to assist the student in being successful, I believe the student should take full advantage of what is available. The college wants all of its students to be successful, which means that the staff needs to know what assistance students will need.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Should students disclose a disability on the admission application?

Disclose your learning difference if it helps tell your story. For example, a student that received a diagnosis mid-way through high school which impacted academic performance should share the information in their application. Filling in the dots of your progression helps admission officers distill the big picture of your application.

Lisa Carlton

Should students disclose a disability on the admission application?

There is not a simple answer to this question. If you are applying to a college that works primarily with students with learning differences then I would suggest disclosing your disability. However, in general I do not recommend disclosing your disability. It is important to note that this will in no way hinder you from accessing services for your disability once admitted. You will submit documentation of your disability once you are admitted to determine the services you will receive.