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Getting Into College Is Easier than You Think

You have a learning disability and you want to go to college. Your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, and tutors are all sweaty over what you're going to do, and everyone has an opinion: usually a different one.

You need some facts. Here are some that should help.

There are lots of choices

First, there's a dirty secret about college admissions. A surprising number of colleges are open admission. That means they take anyone who applies who has a high-school diploma and that includes a GED. Many colleges admit to having open admission. Many others make you jump through admissions hoops as if they were selective, but they really take everyone who applies. This isn't a bad thing. You can still get an excellent education at most, if not all, of these colleges. Getting into college isn't the problem. So what's the problem? More later.

Some colleges are very friendly to students with learning disabilities

Colleges that take pride in the quality of their teaching are often very supportive of students with learning disabilities. In fact, several colleges among the nation's most selective are proud of their success with LD students. Brown University had the Ivy League's first organization for dyslexic students. Georgetown University created a video to train its faculty about learning disabilities that includes a testimonial from a dyslexic English professor. Bates, Macalaster, Duke, and Stanford among other top schools have publicly featured their programs for students with learning disabilities.

Many colleges actively recruit students with learning disabilities

A few colleges make services for students with learning disabilities a feature of their mission. They want you. For example: Louisburg College in North Carolina, Curry College near Boston, Denver University in (where else?) Denver, Colorado, the University of Arizona in Tucson, and Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida all actively recruit students with learning disabilities to programs staffed by specialists and designed to provide specific support to students who need remediation or additional support.

In addition, Landmark College in Putney Vermont and Beacon College in Florida only accept students with learning disabilities and provide highly comprehensive services.

Warning: not all services are alike

All colleges who accept federal aid are required by law to provide services to students with learning disabilities and are forbidden to discriminate against LD students in the admissions process. As a result, all colleges will claim to provide you with all necessary accommodations. It ain't necessarily so. Too many colleges have too few people to provide sufficient services to students who need them. Others, well, as one person put it, "Honey, their LD services are two nice ladies who pass out lollipops and tape recorders."

The Good News

College is not only possible for students with learning disabilities, the odds for success are excellent. However, you need to make the right match.


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