What questions should students with learning differences be asking during the college search?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

What questions should students with learning differences be asking during the college search?

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

What questions should students with learning differences be asking during the college search?

Will my disability be taken into consideration when I apply & to what extent, & how will I be accommodated if I enroll?

Rana Slosberg
Owner Slosberg College Solutions LLC

What questions should students with learning differences be asking during the college search?

If you are a student with Learning Differences and/or ADHD, I recommend that you research and visit with the personnel in the departments that provide disability services at the college. These services may be in one department or spread over several departments with names like Disability Support Services, Office of Disability Support, Learning Support Center, and Academic Support Center. Think about what information you need to help you decide whether the program meets your needs. Some questions you may have are: - What is the philosophy of the program? - How many professionals are on staff? - What services, accommodations, workshops, and adaptive technology are available? - What is the procedure for students to receive accommodations from a professor? - How many tutors are on staff? Are they peer or professional tutors? How often can students be tutored? What subjects is tutoring available for? - Are there organizational coaches? - How many students are accepted in the program each year? How many apply? - Is there a fee for the program? How much is the fee? - How does the graduation rate for students in the program compare to the overall graduation rate? - What documentation is needed to apply for the program? Is there a separate application for the program? Is an interview required? - Is there an orientation before the freshman year?

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

What questions should students with learning differences be asking during the college search?

While the fundamental application process is no different, but students with learning differences 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 active than others. You can get basic information off the school’s website, but you will need to ask questions as well. There are some schools that are making a point of being particularly open to and supportive of students with learning differences—they are seeking to make it their niche--and obviously those schools are ones that student with differences might find particularly attractive all other things being equal. Ultimately, an applicant for whom this is a concern must do their research and ask the right questions.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

What questions should students with learning differences be asking during the college search?

The college search for a student with learning differences is pretty much the same with the addition of researching the support services available on campus. Some schools will have an actual support office, others an informal list of tutors, some colleges offer writing skiils centers, at some schools the services will be free, at others you may have to pay for certain services. It will be up to you to advocate for yourself, so you may as well begin the process during the search.

Diana Hanson
Common Sense College Counseling College Mentors

What questions should students with learning differences be asking during the college search?

You'll want to visit/contact the office of Disability Services at each college to which you're thinking of applying and check out the services that they offer. While every college is required to provide accommodations according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the quality of support can vary widely. Depending on the type of learning differences you have and the accommodations required, you may want to select colleges that have comprehensive programs (often at an additional cost), but not necessarily. Many students with learning differences thrive at colleges of all kinds. One key will be for you to be proactive and advocate for yourself. If you find that difficult to do, check out some of the comprehensive programs (e.g. University of Arizona's S.A.L.T., University of Denver's LEP, Hofstra's PALs, etc.) on the University Web Sites.

Lora Lewis
Educational Consultant Lora Lewis Consulting

What questions should students with learning differences be asking during the college search?

Before you begin your college search, it's important to have a very clear, honest idea of who you are as a learner. Work with your family, your teachers, and your resource support to clearly identify your needs and how you learn best. When you begin to explore colleges, do so with the goal of finding those that best meet your unique needs for educational support. Remember that your rights to accommodations will no longer be protected under IDEA (special education law) as they were during high school; from here on, you will receive accommodations under Section 504. Section 504 is very different from IDEA. You will still be able to receive the accommodations to which your testing and documentation entitle you, but this doesn't mean you'll receive an organized support program. Colleges are allowed to determine the levels of support they offer; again, some offer a great deal, while some offer very little. Depending on the types of support you'll need to be successful in college, you might ask: - What levels of support does the college disability support services offer? - What documentation will the college need to support my request for accommodations and/or learning support? How do I request services? - What resources are available? Does the campus learning center have the personnel, technology, and programs that I need? - How are students selected for services? - Are the additional fees to use DSS services? - Are the tutors available professionals in the field or students? - Is there a summer orientation or transition program I can take advantage of? Is there one that is required? It's important to find a college that has the programs and personnel to support you in achieving success. Know your needs and look for the schools that can fill them.