Students with Learning Disabilities in College added by Caitlin Padick
There are very few choices when you leave high school, either you enroll in college or get a job. However what happens if you have a learning disability. Is the pathway to college open, is it feasible to be successful once you have been accepted, finally how do you choose the correct college?
Students with learning disabilities are entering college in higher numbers than ever before and many, despite the challenges, are successful. Which college you choose does impact your ability to be successful. In 1997 an amendment to IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) required emphasis on transitions from high school to college and the workforce. Subsequently the numbers of students with LD that attended college began to rise significantly. In 1984 only 1.2% of students with learning disabilities attended college, by 1998 the percentage was up to 3.5%. These percentages must be understood to be significant due to the 30% increase in students diagnosed with learning disabilities during the 1990s. There is no doubt that the number of students with learning disabilities entering college is dramatically increasing, but how are those students performing once they are there?
Characteristics of special education entitlement under IDEA include special education services, personnel and assessment. None of these are mandated at the college level. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Persons With Disabilities Act in 1990 both require that college provide equal access for "otherwise qualified" students in comparison to equally qualified students with out disabilities. However this does not apply to the education itself, merely access to this education. Learning Disabled students in college must attend regular classes without the help of specialists or aids, and the most challenging of all, manage their time without direct supervision by parents, special education teachers and with the added social distractions that define college life. In addition the increased rigor of classes and non-modified assignments are often difficult to initially adjust to. Almost all colleges offer the modifications required under the Rehabilitation Act but there are also colleges that offer specific programs for students with learning disabilities. These programs help many students but it is important to remember that many students with learning disabilities are successful in colleges without special programs as well.
Most successful students have developed behavior patterns and strategies that will ensure their success despite their disability. Self determination and organization are a few of the most cited reasons students feel that they are successful. Similarly educators cite students that are goal oriented, persistent and use problem solving. In addition to these traits, students with LD are most successful when they take ownership of their disability and understand how to work with it to maximize their learning. The transition from high school to college can be managed most effectively when students are aware of what actions they need to take once they are there. Some of the most crucial decisions for LD students occur before they even set foot in the classroom. Students should choose their courses with care and once enrolled make sure to find peer groups if available or partner up. Finally the best way to ensure success is to act with persistence and determination, this means never getting behind on assignments and utilizing one on one session with your professor or TA so that you fully understand the material and get the necessary feedback to ensure your success.
Council for Learning Disabilities: Info Sheet: College Opportunities for Students With Learning Disabilities.http://www.cldinternational.org/Infosheets/college.asp