Learning Disabilities & College: 9 Things You Should Know

IMAGE CREDIT:  simon gray

IMAGE CREDIT: simon gray

If you are one of the million of students who use school accommodations to help you perform your best academically, this is a great read for you. Though you may not use all of your accommodations in high school, there is a reason you should keep them in place.

Here are my Top 9 Things You Should Know:

1. Learning disabilities can offer college admission edge.

“A student ranked in the top half of his high school class is up against an applicant pool with a majority of students from the top 25 percent of their classes. Showcasing a learning disability can help bridge this significant gap in grades. A learning disabled student with an average GPA of 3.4 may be competitive against an applicant pool that mostly includes students with a 3.7 GPA.” - US News & World Report

2. It goes with you to college.

"Parents and students don't often realize that their K-12 IEP [Individual Education Plan] is also useful in college.  A student who presents at IEP to a college can continue to receive accommodations during their college years. But it is up to the student to make the college aware of the IEP.  Each college handles IEP's differently.  Some colleges have disability services staff members who help coordinate accommodations cited in IEP's with college faculty.” - RAMBO Research & Consulting

3. You cannot be discriminated against.

“The laws affecting college students with disabilities and the process of obtaining assistive technology in college are completely different from the K-12 world. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is not in effect in higher education. Colleges have no legal responsibility to identify students with disabilities or involve parents in decision making. Parents are often surprised to learn that there are no IEP’s in college. Rather, in higher education the relevant law is a civil rights law – it protects people with disabilities from discrimination in admission to college and participation in college activities. The two federal laws that provide this protection are Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (originally passed in 1973, with subsequent reauthorizations), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (passed in 1990). The ADA states: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability shall, solely by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity." - The College of New Jersey

In other words, a disability cannot be grounds for excluding a person from a college, an academic program, a class, a residence hall, or a college activity, if the person is qualified.

4. Not to disclose your learning issues can be a setup for disappointment in college admissions.

“Not to disclose your learning issues can be a “set-up” for disappointment and/or failure in college admissions. Here are some reasons why: To receive a fair and adequate review, you as an applicant need to provide colleges with a clear understanding of how your learning issues have impacted your ability to learn and perform academically”. - Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz

5. ACT and SAT accommodations

When taking your college entrance exams, it is highly encouraged you use your accommodations. This is a good thing to discuss with your school counselor or assigned specialist. Here is a great step-by-step guide.

6. Community colleges are often a great place to start for all students.

“Community colleges are an excellent stepping stone between high school and a four-year institution, especially for students with learning disabilities. Learn about the support programs available at community colleges that can help students thrive academically, regardless of their disabilities.” - Community College Review 

7. Some colleges are better for students with learning disabilities.

Here are 18 great universities that service a wide range of students. In Florida, Lynn University is part of the list!

Here's another list of Disability Friendly Colleges.

8. There are scholarships for students with learning disabilities!

Whether it is ADD, Autism, General Learning Disabilities, there is a scholarship out there. Check out this website!

9. You can be successful!

It may take a bit more planning than your peers, but you have made it this far! You can make it in college too! Here are some tried and true tips from NPR to being sure you are successful.