Have You Started Thinking About Higher Education?

While more students with learning disabilities are attending colleges and universities around the country than ever before, a lot of parents still have some trepidation about their child’s chances. And while there are certain areas that you have to spend a little more time navigating throughout your child’s college search, there are plenty of tips available that can ease the transition from high school to college and put the student in the best position possible to go to the school they choose to be accepted into. There are few things more exciting than opening that letter (or checking the university website) to find out that you were admitted—just because your child has a learning disability doesn’t mean that they, too, don’t get to enjoy that feeling. The college application process might seem a bit overwhelming, but in this blog, we’ll talk about what steps you can take to help your child get into the school of their dreams.


Get a Head Start

At St. Louis LDA, we talk a lot about how valuable it is to get the ball rolling as early as possible when it comes to helping your child get the support that they need. This means paying close attention to your child’s strengths and weaknesses early on so that you can identify where they feel comfortable and where they could use some extra help. If you’re a student, you need to make sure that your application is as attractive as possible to admissions offices. Gaining an advantage over other applicants means you need to push yourself as much as possible with courses, both in terms of diligence and workload as well as subject matter. Taking rigorous courses in high school can improve your chances of getting into a better school, and offset the course load of your college years too. Make sure that you have a strategy for what classes you plan on taking as early into your high school career as possible.


Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Pushing yourself at anything will require you to feel uncomfortable more often than not. It may seem scary at first, but the earlier you get in the habit of being okay with things being a little unclear, a little challenging, and a little off-putting, the more prepared you’ll be for whatever curveball is thrown your way. You’ll also be setting yourself up for a more successful college experience, as you become more adaptable. Similar to the tip mentioned above, this might involve taking on a more demanding course load (provided you don’t feel too overwhelmed by it), experimenting with new technology (it can only help you to feel comfortable using a variety of different technologies), or joining a new extracurricular club. Becoming part of an extracurricular club (hopefully relating to a subject, issue, or hobby that you’re passionate about) is a great way to meet new people, learn new skills, and make your college application stand out from everyone else that just relies on a high GPA to get them where they want to go.


Research, Research, Research

Has anyone ever complained about being overprepared? The more intimately aware you are of unique parts of the college application process, the easier it is to avoid common pitfalls and keep everything on track. It doesn’t matter if it’s researching which courses make the most sense to take for your intended major, looking up financial aid guidelines and what benefits you might qualify for, or taking the time to see what services are offered for students with disabilities at schools you’re applying to—more information is always better than less information. Make sure that you’ve researched exactly what you need to know so that you avoid issues later on in the application process.


Ask Questions

This ties into the research portion of the application process, but there’s no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to applying for college. If you’re a student with a learning disability, you know that seeking out answers to highly-specific questions is a critical part of getting the support you need. If you don’t understand a concept, ask someone to explain it. If you want to know whether or not you qualify for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) benefits, make sure you reach out to relevant parties. If you want to know if a school offers the support services you need to be successful, clarify that as soon as you possibly can.


Seek Out Support

A lot of schools offer special accommodations for students with learning disabilities. Students may need support services, including:

  • Extended time on assignments (time and a half or double time)
  • Private rooms for examinations (to avoid distractions)
  • Word processing for written exams
  • Option of oral rather than written examinations
  • Note-taking services
  • Option of tape-recording lectures
  • Access to tutoring centers
  • Feedback on written work (typically for longer assignments)
  • Study guides
  • Earlier access to printed materials
  • Academic support in the form of counselors or mentors
  • Priority registration
  • Course substitutions
  • A reduced course load per semester

If a college or university offers any of these services, then it might be the fit for you. Students who have trouble with paying attention, including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may find that they can find exactly the accommodations they’re looking for.


Reach Out to St. Louis LDA Today

As the premier center for learning disabilities in the area, St. Louis LDA can help students with everything from reading comprehension, filling out the common application, and everything in between. Our job is first to listen, and then to help; we want to make sure that support we offer for children with learning disabilities helps them find their path, and get them into the college or university they’ve always wanted to go to. Reach out to the specialists at St. Louis LDA today at (314) 966-3088 or  info@ldastl.org.