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Updated: Apr 12, 2022

Do you have one, if so what are some options on how to apply to college:

What is the strategy for finding colleges that accommodate your students learning differences?

As required by federal law, all accredited universities provide support services for students with learning differences. These services vary in quality and scope from school to school. For students with differences, it is imperative to find the school that is the best fit in providing programs, policies, procedures, and facilities to meet their needs.

What are some top tips?

1. Review your student’s needs with a counselor

The goal is to better understand how your student's learning style will influence their college choices.

Common questions:

How does this affect their learning?

What are their academic strengths and weaknesses?

How do they learn best?

What are some important learning strategies?

2. Investigate and choose schools

Students with disabilities follow the same evaluation of choosing schools: visit their websites, visit the schools and ask many questions.

3. Make a separate list of what a college must have to accommodate your student’s needs.

Determine if the school has a student support services office.

Most colleges have an office that provides services to students with learning differences, or a person who coordinates these services. To get comprehensive details and perhaps a personalized plan for your student, contact the student services office directly. This way, your student can present their unique situation and get the exact answers they need.

Questions for this office may include:

·      What are the eligibility requirements?

·      What kind of accommodations are available?

·      Is there an extra cost associated with the program?

·      Are there classes available in basic skills, study skills, and/or time management?

·      What kind of one-on-one support is available?

·      Is technology available to help this student?

Ask About Accommodations for Students with Learning Differences

College students with learning differences commonly have access to various forms of assistance. For example, many college students with a learning difference may have access to:

·      Extended assignment deadlines

·      Extended test times

·      Private exam rooms for tests

·      Note-taking support

·      Audio recording options for lectures, textbooks, etc.

·      Tutoring services

·      Counselors

·      Study guides

·      Expanded feedback on assignments

·      Course substitutions


How Students with Learning Differences Can Strengthen Their College Applications 

A school cannot deny a student admission because of their learning differences if they meet the basic requirements for admission, including application deadlines, grade point averages, and college entrance exam scores. In fact, students don’t even need to tell a school they have a learning difference on their application. That said, disclosing such information in a positive way such as overcoming obstacles, may provide valuable context regarding a student’s performance.

Colleges examine everything a student includes in their application. Usually, this includes grades on high school transcripts, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, essays, and more.

Should I disclose if I have a learning disability?

Disclosure is often recommended for applicants who need to provide context. For example, a student with learning differences may need to explain why a standardized test score is low when compared to their outstanding grades. However, applicants with strong grades and test scores should think twice before disclosing this information, especially if there were no academic repercussions, or if it is no longer relevant.


The Application

If a student decides to disclose their differences, they can call attention to their difference in the Additional Information section of the Common Application. They can also use any learning challenges they have overcome in their main application essay. Admissions officers understand when a student has a learning difference, it often means they faced a significant challenge. Some of these gatekeepers find this admirable, especially if a student discusses overcoming their challenges in a well-written essay.

However, this doesn’t mean that students should only talk about their learning difference in their required essays. While it can certainly be the focus of one, the wise approach is to discuss different topics in the supplemental essays. This means you will get to highlight different aspects of yourself to the admissions committee. Also, do not write an essay designed to make an admissions officer feel sorry for you; this doesn’t work.

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