Learning Disabilies at University and College
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/education/edlife/hard-decisions-for-learning-disabled.html?_r=2
The admissions process can be stressful for even the most gifted, organized students. But to applicants with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or learning disabilities, the path to college can feel like a maze. The Choice addresses some of the issues such students face.
Marybeth Kravets, an educational consultant and past president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling, is answering questions this week on applying to college with a learning disability. She is the co-author of "The K & W Guide to Colleges for Students With Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder."
1. Should a student who has struggled with A.D.H.D. or dyslexia disclose it when applying to college?
The answer, like so many aspects of college admissions, depends mightily on the particular student. (Testing companies keep confidential whether a student was given extra time on the SAT and ACT, so that's not an issue here.) Edward de Villafranca, an independent consultant and former admissions officer and high school counselor, puts it this way: "The decision to disclose or not isn't actually one of 'Will it hurt my chances?' but rather one of 'Is it helpful to know?'"
Disclosure early in the admissions process is often recommended for applicants who need to provide context — a legitimate reason grades might have dipped uncharacteristically from 9th to 10th grade, or why a standardized test score seems abysmally low when compared with an otherwise stellar academic record.
On the other hand, an applicant with strong grades and test scores may decide not to raise a red flag — maybe learning issues were not an academic impediment, or are no longer relevant.
"The primary risk is having the essay read by someone who doesn't understand learning disabilities, someone who thinks A.D.H.D. is a hyperactive kid in fifth grade bouncing off the walls," said Rachel Masson, director of admissions at Landmark College in Putney, Vt., which offers an associate's degree and is exclusively for students with conditions that impair learning. "Legally, of course, admissions officers are not supposed to hold it against a student," she added. "The reality is, we're all human and there is that human factor involved."
However, Ms. Masson suggests that once admitted but before putting down a deposit, all candidates with issues seek out the campus office that coordinates support services.