Colleges for students with learning disabilitites


Does your teenager have a learning disability?

If so, the whole college process might seem even more daunting.

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 11% of undergraduates have a disability and most of them are learning disabilities.

With these parents in mind, I talked with Joy App, a college consultant in Houston, who has worked with many teenagers with learning disabilities. I am passing along some of her advice for parents of learning disabled teenagers.

To start, I’m sharing a book that App highly recommends for parents with students with a learning disability. She calls this book her bible: College Sourcebook for Students With Learning & Development Differences, which was written by Midge Lipkin.

Sorry folks, but you can’t find this title on Amazon, but you can buy it directly from the publisher – Wintergreen Orchard. In App’s opinion,  this book is superior to this popular title, K &W Guide to Colleges for Students With Learning Disabilities.

Schools With Strong Learning Disability Programs

App also shared with me schools that are considered strong for students with learning disabilities. She said in her experience private colleges and universities typically have better programs for these students than state institutions.

  • WEST:  Whittier College, University of Montana, University of Denver, University of Arizona, University of Southern Oregon

    Westminster College

  • SOUTHWEST: University of Tulsa, Baylor University, Southern Methodist University, Schreiner University, Texas Tech University, University  of Houston
  • SOUTHEAST: Lynn University, Flagler College, University of the Ozarks
  • MIDWEST: DePaul University, Southern Illinois University (Carbondale), University of Indianapolis
  • NORTHEAST: Mitchell College, Landmark College, Curry College, Franklin Pierce College, Lesley University

I’m recommending two more schools from the Midwest for this list – Westminster College in Missouri (one of my nephews who has a learning disability just successfully finished his freshman year at this school) and Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

If you want to recommend other schools, please share in the comment box below!

Should You Disclose a Learning Disability?

During the college admission process, many families struggle with the disclosure issue.

“I’ve had people say to me that this will hurt their children’s chances,” App says. The Texas consultant, however, reassures parents that the admission and disability offices at any college are prohibited from talking to each other. Consequently, revealing a student’s issues with disability staffers will in no way jeopardize a student’s admission chances.

Of course, this leads to the inevitable question of whether a student should reveal to an admission office that he or she is dyslexic, ADHD or possesses some other learning issues. I agree with App who says students should disclose this.

It’s important to know if the institution is going to be friendly to LD students. “If a school is like Princeton,” App says, “and isn’t friendly to LD students, I want to know.” And, she added, if a school holds a disability against an applicant, that’s not the kind of school the student should attend.

Just this month, University of California, Berkeley, which had been sued by a disability group, settled a lawsuit that sought

I ran a guest post on my college blog by David Montesano, one of my favorite college consultants, who is based in Seattle, that suggested that disclosing a disability to an admission office can actually increase a child’s admission chances. You can read the post here:

Getting Into College With Learning Disabilities

Here are a few other facts that I picked up about learning disabilities when I attended a session at the annual conference of the Higher Education Consultants Association last year:

Only 14% of high school students heading to college know what their diagnosed learning disability is. Strange as this may seem, parents don’t tell them.  (Not a good idea!)

Colleges and universities are creating more structured learning support programs for their students with learning disabilities. There is a demand for these programs, but they can also be moneymakers for the institutions.

Just because a teenager gets into a school doesn’t mean he or she will be accepted into the learning disability program. For instance, students who get accepted into the University of Arizona are not automatically accepted into SALT (Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques), which is highly regarded learning disability program. Students must submit a second application to get into  SALT.


In my next post I will share questions that App says that families need to ask a disability services office when visiting a college campus.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of the second edition of The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price.


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  1. I was wondering what happened to Tami’s response? I am very curious about McDaniel and High Point University and the services that are offered to learning disabled students. Tami suggested these should be added to the list. I would like to know everyone’s thoughts,

  2. We recently toured Lynn University. It definitely has a phenomenal program for students with disabilities. However, your child must be accepted into the institute for learning disabled students and the cost is an extra $11,000 in addition to the $50,000 it costs to send your child. Not much is offered in the way of scholarshis, unless your child has a very high GPA. Beautiful campus. State of the art university.

  3. Florida State University! sending my son there from Virginia because of it’s phenomenal Disabilities program, hands on training, technology incorporation (super software for reading better and recording pens that repeat the professor’s lecture); coaching, and the Johnson Tutoring center. Touchdown!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Lisa. Sounds like a great fit. I’d be curious how you found out about this school.

      Lynn O’Shaughnessy

  4. John,

    Thanks for the feedback. Unfortunately, due to space, I could not mention all of my favorites, as there are more strong programs throughout the U.S. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I

    It is always a good sign when the DS director at a college has been there a long time; this shows he/she is being supported by the university. Many thanks to Lynn for sharing this information! BTW–I just posted some recommended reading on my website blog today.

    All the best,

  5. Great list and the two recommended additions are excellent. As a father of a very talented student with a learning disability, it is very important to know which colleges are genuinely good at working with students who learn differently. Many colleges claim they do, but they don’t walk the talk and don’t have the infrastructure or campus culture that supports, mentors and encourages these students to persist and succeed. Thanks for sharing this content, Lynn.