College Search for Students with Learning Differences


The transition from high school to college is daunting for most students, but the anxiety is intensified for students with learning disabilities. They wonder if they’ll be able to keep up and fit in.


Here are some tips to help you identify college campuses that could best fit, academically and socially, the needs of a student with learning differences.


Understand your disability and its impact – write down the specific areas that present difficulties for you. Be able to identify the range of problems you might encounter at college and more importantly, be able to articulate the kinds of accommodations and services that would improve your situation – (extended testing times, note takers, reading machines, tutors).


Understand your strengths – what kinds of compensatory skills have you developed to accommodate your learning differences?


Begin researching colleges with types of programs that meet your needs. (The K& W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).


Seriously evaluate a variety of factors including: housing options (would having a single room dramatically reduce your stress level?), your advisor’s recommendations, disability services options, cost, the location and size of the school. Large schools may offer more support, activities and more majors, but they also may require you to be more proactive to meet your needs. That’s fine if you’re up to the challenge.


Visit campuses while classes are in session, if possible. Meet with admission and special support service coordinators. Ask to meet students utilizing the college’s learning differences or disabilities support services, perhaps over lunch, so you can have an informal discussion about the support accommodations available.

Prepare for an interview – this is where it is really important for the student, not the parent, to be able to clearly articulate their challenges and the types of support that would be most beneficial.


Obtain letters of recommendation – letters from counselors and teachers should address your learning style(s), academic achievement including subjects you have mastered, obstacles you’ve overcome and a variety of personal characteristics such as your motivation, attitude, self-discipline, behavior and response to positive reinforcement.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by The College Advisor, prepared for our clients and their families.