These days, students have many options when it comes to their post-college plans. There are traditional 4-year schools, community colleges and online alternatives. Students can go Ivy League, West Coast or somewhere in the middle. This, too, is true for students with learning disabilities that once considered college a long shot.
Recent statistics from the National Center for Learning Disabilities revealed that of 2-year and 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, both public and private, enrolled students with specific learning disabilities. Further proving the rising enrollment trend is the fact that from 2000-2009, the proportion of college students with learning disabilities rose 2 percent—that’s a lot of movement in less than a decade.
All this being said, there are certain things college-bound students with learning disabilities need to consider before settling on a school. During this significant, decisive time, it’s important that teens have their parents and guardians there for support. They will likely have many thoughts and concerns whirling around during this time, so they need the extra guidance and direction the adults in their life can provide.
Below is a list of just some things students and their parents will need to keep in mind when considering their post-high school options.
Specialists on Hand
Regardless of if you’re child seeks to attend a trade school, community college or traditional university, you need to ask the enrollment professionals if there are specialists, trained in dealing with children and young adults with learning disabilities, available and accessible on campus. It might seem like this should be a no-brainer and they should be present on every campus, no matter how big or small, but unfortunately that’s not the case—at least yet anyways.
Educational professionals and institutions are still learning about and familiarizing themselves with the ins and outs of learning disabilities, so some do not yet have the resources to support students with such issues.
Graduation/Retention Rate of Learning-Disabled Students
To dig a little deeper, parents and potential students should also inquire about the graduation and retention rate of specific institutions, because it’s not enough to merely have specialists on campus. If they are ineffective, they might as well not even be there, right? This is especially important if the school is requiring students to pay extra fees for these services and programs. Why pay extra if no one is seeing positive results?
This information can tell you a lot about how they will treat your student once they are enrolled. You want to be sure the positive treatment and accommodation is not a one-time thing to ensure you sign the papers.
In addition to trained, accessible specialists on hand, parents and students should also consider what programs and services are available for students with learning disabilities. Does the school offer testing exceptions and allowances for students with properly documented disorders? Are there additional tutors on hand and if so are they students, trained teachers or a combination of the two? Not to discount the level of expertise a student-teacher or intern might deliver, if that’s ALL that a student has to turn to it might not be enough.
Overall, the decision where your teenager will spend the better part of the next few years is a big one that should not be taken lightly. Don’t feel bad asking questions such as these. You owe it to yourself and your peace of mind.
Another thing to keep in mind though is the chance that college, at least in the traditional sense, may not be for your learning-disabled teen. As I mentioned above there are trade schools, community colleges and even the armed forces open to them. It’s just a matter of considering all of their options fully and doing your homework and research.
Contributor: Nancy Wood is a freelance blogger for Online College Classes. She loves writing about education, health, and college life and works to provide helpful information on the best colleges for all students. She welcomes comments and questions below!