What to do BEFORE college Acceptance?
For students with learning disabilities (LD) making a successful transition to college is a multi-year process and a team effort that requires input from the student, parents, school personnel, and other professionals. Ideally, transition planning for college begins when a student enters high school to maximize options as they move through the next four years. It takes a 4 year plan to get into a 4 year college!
Step 1: Create your Transition Plan
The below timeline are high level recommendations of activities to complete leading up to High School graduation.
High School Timeline of Recommended Activities:
(Support from parents and school personnel is very important at this stage. Students with organizational challenges may find it daunting to simultaneously secure letters of reference, write essays, and complete forms while also keeping up with regular academic demands.)
Step 2: Picking out Colleges:
College Research Questions
- Academic Programs of Interest
- Teaching Approaches
- Class Size
- Disability Services
- Campus Resources and Support
- counseling center
- health center
- writing center
- math center
- tutoring services
- procedures for waiving or substituting requirements
- Acceptance criteria – Know your goal.
Good online sources:
It is important to understand the requirements to be accepted to a college. Your High School transition plan should be built to satisfy the goals of a college acceptance criteria. As an example…here is the University of Oregon‘s Acceptance criteria (2019). Minimum GPA: A minimum college grade point average of 2.25 is required of transfer applicants, and 2.5 if you are a non-resident.
- English—4 years. All four years should be in preparatory composition and literature with emphasis on and frequent practice in writing expository prose.
- Mathematics—3 years. Must include first-year algebra and two additional years of college-preparatory mathematics, including Algebra II (or equivalent) or higher. An advanced mathematics course is highly recommended in your senior year. One year of either algebra or geometry taken prior to ninth grade are acceptable.
- Science—3 years. Must include a year each in two fields of college-preparatory science such as biology, chemistry, physics, or earth and physical science. One year of laboratory science is recommended.
- Social Studies—3 years. Complete three years of social studies from such areas as global studies, history, or social studies electives.
- Second language—2 years. The UO offers several options for meeting the second-language requirement.
Step 3: Applying for College
- Update documentation of LD
- Discuss whether to disclose LD/ADD or not- does diagnosis explain transcript of test scores?
- Visit institutions if possible
- Make appointments with disability services office (are you comfortable there?)
- Write about your strengths in your application – show self-knowledge
- Consider a portfolio admission process
What Colleges are best for students with Dyslexia?
- There are two colleges in the US that I know of, whose missions are to specifically serve students with learning disabilities. They have both been frequent exhibitors at IDA conferences.They are Beacon College in Florida https://www.beaconcollege.edu and Landmark College in Vermont. https://www.landmark.edu/about
- There are private organizations, separate from colleges, that offer coaching and support for students with learning disabilities to help prepare them for the challenge of college and continued support as they progress through their programs of choice. One such group is College Living Experience. https://experiencecle.com
- There are several colleges and universities that have transition programs for freshman and/or continuing extra support within their traditional college programs. You can find various lists of these programs by googling “college programs for students with learning disabilities. UNDERSTOOD has a list of the “top 15”, for instance.
- All colleges and universities have, or should have, an Office of Student Support that provides services, accommodation assistance, counseling, etc for students with disabilities.
- All colleges and universities have, or should have, academic (writing and math support centers and tutoring referrals), mental health counseling and health care offices for all students.
- Community Colleges have many affordable, non-credit classes to bolster academic skills.
- Online and self-paced classes and Universal Design for Learning principals have been embraced by many institutions of high ed for much longer than in K-12 programs.