College Planning Tips for Students with Learning Disabilities

When a parent learns their child has a learning disability they may feel as if the dreams they had for their child will never come true. Among these fears is that their child will never be able to attend college. This need not need the case; with early intervention, extra tutoring, foresight and attention to learning style many of these children can eventually become teenagers who are well prepared to enter college.

For students with learning disabilities, planning for college should begin early in high school. Choosing appropriate high school classes, becoming qualified as a person with a learning disability according to the requirements of colleges, and choosing a college with the best fit, are among the most important issues a college-bound student must consider longer before the end of his senior year.

While all students must consider most of these issues, they can be especially difficult for a student with a learning disability. Unlike “regular” students, the learning disabled child must plan around his disability, and plan further ahead and with more detail.

The first step in college planning is to take the SAT or ACT. To get accommodations for these tests, the student must request them from the College Board well ahead of the test date. The College Board requires that the student have documentation of a disability, and that they be able to provide recent proof. For detailed and up-to-date information on this, go to collegeboard.com.

In selecting courses, not only must the student choose courses to meet high school graduation requirements, he must also meet the requirements for all colleges he applies to. This information is available on the website for each individual college. Generally, the courses are recommendations and not requirements, so the student may choose not to take certain courses if they fall too squarely into his area of disability. To compensate for this, the student may choose to focus on an area of strength, and demonstrate a strong ability and interest in this area.

When choosing colleges, the student will want to consider the number of standardized tests he is required to take, and the strength of support the college provides for students with learning disabilities. He will also want to look at the college’s requirements for graduation, as most colleges are unwilling to waive these.

In deciding what colleges to apply for, he will want to research what type of accommodations the school is willing to provide as well as what type of services they have available. Some colleges provide special programs for students with learning disabilities, while others only provide a limited number of accommodations.

In order for a student to receive accommodations, he must have had testing within the last three years, as well as an assessment by a qualified individual to prove the existence and nature of his disability. This should also include recommended accommodations. While colleges are required to follow the Americans With Disabilities Act, they are not required to provide the breadth of support available to students in their earlier education.

With planning, a student with a learning disability can be prepared for the rigors of college. By considering the requirements for admission, along with the support available, the student can find a college where he can succeed.