- The first thing you need to do if you have learning disabilities (LD) is to establish that your condition is authentic. The best way to do this is when you're in high school; talk to your school's guidance counselor to see if you can be evaluated to determine if you qualify for additional support when in college.
- If you have a low GPA, concentrate on acing your SAT or ACT; this way, you have a fighting chance of even securing a merit scholarship for college. If your SAT/ACT scores are also low, apply to colleges that do not take these test scores into consideration for admission. As many as 850 colleges do not use SAT/ACT scores as admission criteria, and if you want a really good college, aim for one of the top 20 in this list. While your low SAT scores or GPAs may be because of your learning disability, any college can reject your application based on them. However, if you can provide your LD evaluation report and prove that you do have learning disabilities that hindered your chances of a high GPA and a good SAT score, you may be given special consideration.
- Include your psychoeducational evaluation report (from the LD test) with the admissions form and ask for it to be sent to the college's disability services office; they are in a better position to take a call on your admission.
- Opt for a community college that is closer to home if you want to test the waters first; you don't have to pay much by way of tuition fees, and your class is small enough for your professors to give you extra attention if needed. If you want to attend regular college, choose one that accommodates your condition and offers you the best possible environment and services so that you graduate without much trouble.
- It's best to be open with your learning disability during the admissions process; this way, you're assured of additional help once you're in college. Educational institutions are required by law to provide assistance like computers for written exams, extra time to take exams and note-takers during lectures when a student has a learning disability. According to the Association on Higher Education and Disability, only 28 percent of students with learning disabilities graduate, but this low number is only because only 25 percent of them take advantage of the services available to them on campus.
- If your LD is related to disorders like autism or Asperger's syndrome or if you need additional support, you could get in touch with College Living Experience (CLE) - this private program works with students with learning disabilities to help them with their coursework and other aspects like emotional maturity, social skills, and the ability to live independently. CLE operates in six cities across the USA; students are simultaneously enrolled in CLE and a college near the program's centers and their staff members provide them with the help they need.
- If you're looking for colleges that offer programs for learning disabled students, check this resource list.
- The key to getting into college and graduating successfully is to believe in yourself and persist in your efforts to get into the degree of your choice. Success tastes sweeter when it comes after you've overcome significant challenges; you gain more satisfaction in treading and completing a path that's strewn with difficulties than one whose course runs smooth; and victory that is hard-won is much more valuable than one that was achieved without any competition. So too with education - when you know you've overcome a host of challenges, the most significant of them being learning disabilities that have plagued you since you started school, to earn your degree, its value is multiplied manifold.
So how many people discourage you, no matter what the naysayers say, remember that you can gain admission to college and earn a degree - all it takes is the will to do so and the knowledge to go about the process.
By-line: This guest post is contributed by Carrie Oakley. Carrie welcomes your comments at her email id: firstname.lastname@example.org.