College Admissions: Strategies for ADD/ADHD and LD Students
Monday, September 21, 2015
Don’t Ignore The Warning Signs
If a student is getting low grades, get tested sooner rather than later. If you see your child struggling for hours with homework, falling apart in exams, or easily distracted, don’t wait until next year. Put your request for testing in writing to the head of school and guidance office, then schedule a meeting. If your request is denied, consider private testing which may be covered by your health insurance.
Forget the Stigma
Get over the idea that there is a stigma with LDs. Many parents avoid getting their child help because they feel that the student will be labeled. They are living in the 1950s. Today, anyone involved in education knows that most LD kids are incredibly smart. That’s why many of them are able to hide it until high school. Today, lots of top achieving students receive services at school or extended time on testing. Keeping an LD in the closet hurts everyone in the long run and benefits no one.
Formalize a Resource Pan
It is important to get an IEP or 504 Plan in place once you have a diagnosis. This will allow your child to receive services and qualify for extended time on tests. The ACT and SAT have become increasingly stringent in the last few years about granting extended time, and a 2-3 year track record of receiving services and allowances in school is key to getting your request approved. If standardized tests are still a stumbling block, look at SAT optional colleges www.fairtest.org.
Review College Services
There are basically two types of LD programs at colleges, proactive and self-directed programs. Proactive are the hardest to find and usually come with high price tag, but they increase the likelihood of success for moderate and severe LD learners. Self-directed programs suffice for most LD students who can ask for help. When looking at colleges, visit the Academic Support Center, ask how many full time staff they have and what type of services they provide. If the student would benefit from books in audio format or dictation equipment to write papers, make sure that the center has them. Students with ADD/ADHD issues may not need technology, but instead a structured program with a mentor to track coursework, grades and tutoring.
Disclose or Not Disclose?
You don’t need to disclose your LD when applying to colleges, unless a specific program requires it. In my practice, I have found that many colleges will reject high achieving students with a non-verbal learning disability diagnosis, severe dyslexia, a low IQ or very slow processing times. So, holding your cards close during application time can sometimes be the right move. But once accepted, you should provide your testing report to the appropriate academic or disability support office and request services before you arrive on campus. On your first day, make sure to follow-up and get comfortable with the staff and facilities that you will be utilizing. Self-advocacy is the best tool for managing an LD in high school and in college.
Related Slideshow: 10 Pieces of Advice for College Freshmen and Their Parents
Heading off to college can be a stressful time. To ease the anxiety, Cristiana Quinn, GoLocalProv's College Admissions Expert, has some sage words for children and parents alike.
When you arrive at college, don't expect everything to be perfect. Your roommate, classes or sports team may not be everything that you dreamed of, and that's okay. Make the best of it, and remember that college gets easier after you adjust in the first semester. Stay in touch with friends and family from home, but transition to your new life. Don't live virtually (texting) hanging on to the past too much--live in the moment in your new community.
Make sure you know where health services is on campus and the hours. Also, know where the closest hospital is, in case health services is closed. Visit the academic support center and learn about tutoring and study skills resources in the first week of school---BEFORE you need them.
Join at least 3 organizations or clubs on campus. This will give you a chance to meet a variety of people outside of your dorm and classes. Chances are that these students will be more aligned with your interests and values. Intramural sports teams, the campus newspaper, community service groups, political groups, outing clubs are all good.
Get a healthcare proxy signed before your son/daughter goes off to campus. This is critical for students over 18, otherwise you will not have access to medical info in the case of and emergency (due to healthcare privacy laws). You need to be able to speak with doctors and make decisions remotely and quickly if anything happens.
Expect some bumps in the road. Homesickness is normal, as are issues with roommates and professors. Be supportive at a distance. Never call a professor, and try not to text your child multiple times a day. This is the time to let them learn independence and more responsibility. They can deal with issues if you give them the chance.
Avoid pushing a major--this usually leads to unhappiness and causes stress in the family. It's good to provide students with resources, but encourage them to seek career testing and counseling on-campus with professors and the Career Center. Discuss options, but don't dictate or pressure students to select something too early.
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