The path to college is nerve-wracking for all students, but it can be especially worrisome for students with learning issues. Although many LD students want to be like everybody else at college, it is important to recognize that learning difficulties will continue in this new academic setting. The college student must advocate for himself and follow through with the academic supports available at college.
One of the most important things for LD students to recognize is the amount of structure and support that high school provides. High school students spend roughly six hours a day in class with almost daily contact with teachers who get to know them. College schedules vary daily and in general, for every hour of class time, college students spend three hours of out of class time preparing assignments and/or studying. For LD (or ADHD) students, this amount of time may be doubled.
Time Management is Critical
The most significant challenge that LD students face at college is the balancing act between social life and academic demands. Distractions are endless in college, which only exacerbate the difficulties of time management. All the more reason to find a college where the academic support is easily accessible and strongly encouraged.
So what should the college search for LD students entail? Speak with teachers and counselors at your high school who know you and can honestly evaluate the level, and types, of academic supports you will need in college. Listen to their suggestions and share them with the college counselor at your school so that he/she can sensibly guide you through the admissions process.
Support Varies College to College
Because the level of support varies from college to college, it is imperative to identify those schools that offer the specific academic supports that you need. This is where the school adviser - or independent counselor - can, and should, provide the appropriate direction.
Almost all colleges offer accommodations (i.e. extended time; note takers; adaptive software), but to obtain even basic accommodations, students must provide comprehensive documentation of the learning disability. On every college website, you can find the specified documentation including the requisite educational testing, that each school requires. *Please note that an IEP or 504 is not adequate documentation; colleges want to see a fairly recent psycho-educational evaluation.
The levels of support that various colleges offer are below. In general, Services are the resources available through the academic services office at no cost to LD students; Programs are exclusively designed for LD students and provide more in-depth and individualized support and often do incur an additional fee.
Three Tiers of Academic Support at College
Comprehensive Support Programs
1. Frequent meetings with learning specialists to assist students with academic, organizational, and time management skills
2. Typically staffed by full-time learning specialists
3. May include workshops on study skills, etc. and special orientation.
4. Additional fee for support service on top of tuition
1. Support office works with students who need help with academics, but staff typically does not include learning specialists.
2. Students may seek assistance from staff to help with organizational skills and time management.
3. May include workshops on test-taking skills, and strategies for stress reduction.
4. Services are free of charge.
1. Available through the college's Office of Student Disabilities, which also oversees specific accommodations.
2. Student must advocate for himself, register with office and provide documentation. The office will not track down, or follow-up with students.
3. · Services are provided free of charge.
For further guidance on the college search and admissions process for students with learning differences, please schedule an initial consultation.