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What Students with LD Need to Know About Applying to a Four-Year College

Students - Applying CollegeIf you’re in high school and you’re thinking about going to a four-year college, you’ll be happy to learn that today, more than ever before, there are many options and opportunities in post-secondary education for students with learning disabilities (LD).

It also means that you have some questions to ask yourself (and discuss with your family and guidance counselor) before you begin the college search process. What do you want to study? Do you want to make use of a program just for students with LD? How integrated do you want your academic and social experiences to be with those of the rest of the college community? Where and when do you begin?

When should you start planning?

Start preparing for college your freshman year of high school. Every class on your transcript and activity on your resume creates a picture of what kind of student and person you are. Meet with your school counselor as soon as possible to discuss what many colleges are looking for in the students they accept.

Sophomore year, begin to talk with your counselor about standardized testing like the PSATs, SATs, and ACTs, to learn about how you can prepare and practice for the tests you will take in your junior year.

In your junior year, think about what kind of school and program you are interested in attending. Research financial aid options and visit college campuses to find the right fit for you.

FYI: The College Board allows students to selectively send SAT scores rather than have scores from every sitting sent to colleges. Learn more about the Score Choice option.

With your counselor, develop a personal timeline to help you balance your senior year academic and extracurricular schedule with important college application deadlines. You should be completed with the application process by winter of your senior year.

Meet with your counselor every year you’re in high school to make sure you’re on the right track for college!

And don’t forget about the summer! Explore summer internships, classes, and volunteering opportunities – experiences you can include on your resume. Also, utilize this time to prepare for upcoming classes and visit college campuses.

What do you need to do first?

Having a realistic transition plan, identifying potential hurdles you might face, and considering your college options are all important first steps to take. Ask yourself:

  • Do I feel ready to enroll in a four-year college?
  • Would I prefer to enroll in a two-year college for now?
  • Do I want (or need) to connect right away with a college’s office of disability services?


What might you want to study?

One way to help you decide where you want to attend college is to identify colleges that offer classes (and majors) in areas of study that interest you. Ask yourself:

  • In which subjects do I excel?
  • What do I enjoy studying?
  • What is my dream profession?

Don’t worry about selecting a major. Many – even most – students begin college without declaring a major so they can explore different areas of study. Remember to go in with an open mind!

What kind of school support programs do you want?

Many colleges offer programs that are designed to help you transition from high school to college, such as, subject area tutoring, workshops that help you build organization and study skills, and training in the use of adaptive equipment – also known as "assistive technology."

Be aware that not all support programs are the same; they provide different types of services, have different admission criteria, require different forms of documentation, involve different configurations of professional staff, and provide (and in some cases, require) different levels of involvement in a student’s life on campus.

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Tags: college-adult