When should a prospective student make contact with the disability support office?
As soon as you are admitted to the college.
Disability Support–Get in Touch Before You Decide
While disability support is mandated by law there will always be variations and each school will operate in its own distinctive way. Consequently, it is best to be sure you are familiar with a school’s approach and procedures before you commit. For a student for whom accommodations will be a part of their experience, it is important to know how it is handled and to feel comfortable with that approach. Be sure to check it out as a part of the initial exploration process, and then nail down any lingering questions as you are making your final decision. It is too important to not be fully aware of how the process operates before you commit to attending.
The sooner you do it, the better. Most offices will have some sort of application process that requires you to fill out paperwork. The sooner you do this, the better. Make sure you have all your paperwork and documentation ready. This will make for a smoother application process. The sooner you get it going, the better chances you have of receiving your accommodations.
When looking at colleges, you will want to contact disability support services right away to learn more about their services, but you will likely do so as an “anonymous” student. When you begin to get more serious about your list of schools, it will be a good idea to introduce yourself to that department. Let them know who you are, and what your specific needs are. By getting more personal at this point, the service staff can also let you know if they think you will like their school and will benefit directly from the services they offer. They can also be very helpful at this point if there are questions about disclosure in the application process.
Disabilities are not usually disclosed on the general application in order to maintain a non-biased admissions process, but sometimes a student may feel that their case warrants exception (for example, the disability was not diagnosed until the junior year, and that is when your grades climbed significantly due to now receiving the support you needed). The service staff can be very helpful in this assessment. Another consideration for contacting services before the application process is completed will be if the college has a specific LD program in which you are interested. The application requirements for such programs are usually different, and need to be handled separately. Do not delay when applying for these programs, as they are usually limited in the number of enrollment slots.
Finally, if you decide you are fine without that early communication with the service staff prior to applying to the college as you feel you will only need mild accommodations (such as extra time for exams), you still need to contact support services immediately upon making your final acceptance decision, so they can be prepared to meet with you and assign an advisor or liaison.
Meeting members of the disability support office prior to applying makes a lot of sense of some students. The philosophy, services, and approach can very wildly from one college to another. If your college experience depends on a specific approach or accommodation, call and speak with a member of the office before you step foot on campus. If you are more concerned with the overall atmosphere and are seeking the “safety net” of support for your learning difference, wait to visit until you visit campus.
Yes! I think it is important for students to make contact with the disability office. This helps you determine if you are comfortable with the people in the office and the procedures for handling student’s with disabilities. There are vast differences in disability offices and this will be one of the factors in the college you choose. I often hear students expressing concern about talking with the disability office because they fear it will hurt their application. I have not found this to be the case.
At the very beginning of your college search, make contact with the disability support office of every college/university to which you are seriously considering applying. It’s important that you know what types of disability support are provided at each institution and that you find out more about what your student experience at those institutions would be.
A student should plan on contacting the Disability Services Office as early as possible. This will allow the office time to review information and have a better understanding of the necessary accommodations required for an individual student. When planning your campus visit, a student should either schedule a meeting with the Disability Services Office or stop by to pick up any paperwork that may assist the student through the application process.
Before they apply, or applying could be an exercise in futility!
If you visit the college, make an appointment with the office beforehand so you can ask questions and see their facility. Know what they offer and what they require from you. If you cannot visit, call the office and have a list of questions ready. I believe you must get to know the college’s DSS as soon as possible to see if it matches your needs.
There is not a specific time where the student should make contact with the DSS office, it depends on the situation and the student. If you want information about their support services which will influence your decision on whether you will apply to that school you can contact them to find out that information. If not then after you receive your admissions decision you can contact the office to discuss the support they can offer you. If you decide to go to that school make sure you make the office aware of your disability and submit the paperwork they need so that when you start school you can take advantage of the support they will give you.
The college search process can be more involved for students with disabilities. When you start researching colleges, you should review the list of services they offer to students with disabilities. Through each university website, you should be able to find a list of what is provided. You should contact the offices that handle disability services when you decide where you want to submit an application. Communicate directly with them to discuss the details of what they can offer. For example, at Illinois there are a wide variety of services for students with disabilities and the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) can work with you to discover what you need and the best way to provide assistance. This type of information is important to have before you apply and especially before you accept an offer of admission.
You should make immediate contact with the disability support office of the college. You need to find out if they will accept your current IEP, or if you will need to get updated testing. You should set up a time to meet with one of their representatives to review your specific needs. If they don’t offer the supports that you need, move on to the next school on your list.
Determining if the school will be able to meet your learning needs goes hand in hand with your application. You definitely don’t want to wait until after being accepted to find out that they can’t accommodate your needs. Use your college search time to talk to current users of the services. You will need to advocate for yourself once you arrive on campus, so you might as well start right now.
it is especially important for special learning students to visit the college campuse and interview the program as early as possible.
yes, the student and parents can learn the programs in a great deal from marketing materials. it is not the same when you can actually talking to someone in person.
so, pick up the phone and make the appointment now.
By phone after you have sent in your deposit. In person right after you unpack your dorm room.
I recommend that the student visits the DSS office as part of each college visit. Call ahead of time and make an appointment with the support staff. You should see how active the office is, what types of accommodation are offered and the facilities available. Among other questions, you should ask if special application is required, what auxiliary testing is required and if there are extra fees charged for the special programs as well as what accommodations and services are available.
Here is my video response to the question.
A student may contact a DSS office anytime. The sooner the better. Did you know that the DSS office may not contact the admissions office and discuss you? Your rights to privacy are protected so stand up and ask questions!
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