I’ve been feeling guilty about ignoring the issues that college-bound students with learning disabilities face. Let’s just say it’s been on my to-do list.
I was happy, however, when I discovered a story that Kim Clark, my friend over at US News, wrote that contained tips for teenagers with learning disabilities.
What follows are some of Clark’s tips for learning disabled teenagers heading to college.
1. Don’t automatically put students with learning issues into the easiest classes in high school. Students who skip classes like Algebra II and Chemistry can have a harder time getting into a four-year college and they could find college work too difficult.
2. Explore using software and high-tech gadgets that can make college easier for students whether they are learning disabled or not. One gadget that I’m particularly interested in is the Livescribe smart pen. I read a lengthy article about this pen in The New York Times in the fall and I’m getting this for my son for Christmas. Here’s the article: The Pen That Never Forgets.
3. Prepare your child to be proactive. Colleges typically don’t provide special services unless students speak up.
4. Read. Get started with these three books on learning disabilities:
K & W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorder
Preparing Students With Disabilities for College Success
Peterson’s Colleges With Programs for Students With Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorders
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller and a workbook, Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Cost of a Bachelor’s Degree. Follow her on Twitter.
I got diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder the summer after my sophomore year of college. My parents and I knew I had some academic problems long before I got officially diagnosed, so I chose a small college (Birmingham-Southern College) with resources I knew I needed. I was lucky to have excellent professors who were willing to modify assignments for me even before I got diagnosed with ADD. All students have access to tutors, the writing and speech center, and counseling services for no additional fee. I recently got a Live Scribe Pulse smart pen and it has been extremely helpful for course work not only because I have no attention span but also because I have illegible writing. I would highly reccomend it!
My son has a learning disability (dysgraphia) and is now a college freshman. He has transitioned successfully into an engineering program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. We made sure we looked for programs with widely available extra help, a writing center and an openness to students with all types of learning disabilities. I was happy that there are so many quality schools which do offer these services, all included in the base tuition, so no extra charges!