More and more of today's high school students who struggle with a learning disability are not letting that keep them back, but are heading off to college in spite of their disability. There are several steps of preparation that students who have learning disabilities can take to make the transition from high school to college as smooth as possible. These preparations start in high school.
First, students who have learning disabilities need to work on developing self knowledge while in high school. They need to understand what learning style works best for them. They need to have an arsenal of learning strategies in hand that they know will allow them to achieve success in school. Such strategies might include asking for extra time to take tests, listening to books read out loud instead of reading them, or making up acronyms to help them remember important material.
Next, the learning disabled student needs to understand the legal rights that he or she is entitled to. The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which was passed in 1990, protects the confidentiality of records, so colleges do not have access to any disability records. Because of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, colleges cannot discriminate in accepting students with learning disabilities. Students with learning disabilities have to be allowed reasonable modifications in order to complete their education, such as extra time for tests, alternate test forms and other things. One difference at college over high school is the student must take the initiative to request help when at college. In high school, the law demands that the school identify and help LD students, but not so in college.
Students with learning disabilities need to make special preparation for the transition into collage life. Students need to be aware of the options they have for college. Some colleges have open admission policies, which allow anyone with a high school diploma to enter the college. Others have selective criteria and may only accept students with a certain GPA or test score. There are also two types of colleges based on the length of the education. Two-year colleges usually have open admissions policies and allow the student to earn an Associates Degree. These are sometimes referred to as Community Colleges. Four-year colleges or universities are often more selective in their admissions acceptance and offer more specialized degrees. Some colleges have programs designed for students with learning disabilities. Those with severe learning disabilities should seek one of these institutions.
Just because a student has a learning disability does not mean that he or she cannot and should not pursue higher education. The law demands reasonable accommodation for those with LD at colleges and universities. LD students who are planning to go to college need to have a good understanding of their own learning strategies and what helps them learn best. By doing some research and planning well for the transition, even students with learning disabilities can succeed and even thrive in the college setting.
Your Independent Learning Disability guide.