STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DIFFERENCES
Finding the right college is very important for every student. Finding the right match for a student with a learning disability is particularly important. It is critical that students with learning disabilities choose a post-secondary setting that will help that individual maximize his or her potential. This process of college search requires that you:
- Recognize your disability and be your own advocate
- Learn and know your personal strengths and weaknesses
- Understand the differences between high school and college
- Obtain as much information as possible from the colleges and universities offering programs for learning disabled students.
It is important to start the college search by looking at the same factors that all students consider. Size, geographic location, selection of majors, admissions requirements, cost, resources, athletics, and social activities are all important features of a college experience. We will encourage students with learning disabilities to follow the same research and decision-making procedures that we suggest to all students.
College Planning for Students With Learning Differences - Resource packet created by the NPSD School Counseling Department
SERVICES AVAILABLE TO STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES
As students explore post-secondary options, they should also research the availability of special services such as tutorial support, academic advising, reduced course loads, and organizational and study skills programs. These services can range from meeting minimal requirements of the Federal law (Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act) to the services of a full-time learning disabilities director, specially-trained tutors, and a full range of accommodations. Colleges that provide services to students with special learning needs will explore the nature of the services the student has received in high school and the determine the type of support that is appropriate in college. If the school has a special learning support program, the student should contact the director of that program during the admissions process.
QUESTIONS TO ASK
- Is there a separate admissions process for LD students?
- What documentation is required? Are accommodation determinations based on the high school IEP recommendations?
- Is there a separate LD program?
- Are there selective criteria for admission to the LD program?
- Is there a separate fee for enhanced LD services?
- How many LD students do you serve?
- What is your retention rate for all freshmen? For LD students?
- What is your graduation rate for all students? For LD students?
- Does your institution offer remedial and/or developmental courses for credit towards graduation?
- Does your institution offer substitutions for foreign language or math courses? If so, what documentation is required? What is the process?
- Do you ever offer waivers? Under what circumstances?
- Do you have staff members trained in the area of learning disabilities?
- What is the LD counselor/student ratio?
- How long does a student wait to get in to see a counselor (a day, a week)?
- How do you handle emergencies? Are there walk-in hours?
- How are testing accommodations handled?
- If I qualify to take my exams with extended time how much time can I have?
- Where do I take the test?
- What if my exam is in the evening and your office is closed?
- If I need a distraction free space will I always get it?
- What types of accommdations may be offered?
- Tape recorders?
- Alternative forms of testing?
- Option to tape lectures?
- Extended time on exams?
- Reading machines?
- Typing services?
- Computer availability?
- Distraction free space?
- Calculator use during exams?
- Priority registration?
- Study groups?
- Do you offer tutoring? If so, is it offered by: LD Specialists, Faculty Members, Graduate Assistants, Peer Tutors, and/or Paraprofessionals?
- Are tutors trained to work with LD students?
- Is there a fee for tutoring?
- Do you offer career planning? Can graduates use career services?
- Does the academic advisor work in tandem with the LD specialist?
- Do you offer study skills and/or learning strategies courses? Are they offered for credit?
- What is the climate on your campus for LD students? Do you expect the services that you are telling me about today to ALL be available in the fall?
- Are there regular workshops for faculty members about working with LD students?
- How many complaints do you get from students about faculty or staff members in a year? How are they handled?
- Does your campus have an ADA/504 Compliance Officer?
- Have any lawsuits or OCR complaints been filed against your campus?
- Is there strong support from the faculty members and administration for this program?
For students with learning disabilities, the campus visit is a MUST! What a college says in their guidebook may not accurately reflect the availability and access to services.
- ACT Services for Students with Disabilities
- Adaptive Technology Center for NJ Colleges
- College Board Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD)
- Colleges with Programs for Students with Learning Disabilities
- Fairleigh Dickinson University Center for College Students with Learning Disabilities
- National Center for Learning Disabilities
- Union County College Office of Disability Services