Learning Disabilities: 18 Critical Factors for a Successful Post-High School Transition

Since students with learning disabilities are at higher risk in college, they should allow themselves adequate time to prepare for post-secondary success now. Keeping the eighteen factors below in mind increases the likelihood that the transition from high school to college will go as smoothly as possible.

1. To begin your college search, make a list of desirable qualities in a school (ie, proximity/residentiality, size, location, etc.) Begin your search online, and then begin your college visits. Let your parents narrow down your list to their acceptable options. Then once you see where you are accepted, you will know that all of those schools are “parent approved.”

two. Perseverance is the single most important factor in college success. Tied for second are the ability to delay gratification (ie, say “no” when your friends are going out, but you really should be studying) and an organizational system that works for you. The sooner you work on these three things, the easier college will be.

3. In college, you are a legal adult and need to articulate your disability on your own. Self defense goes hand in hand with this; it is essential to meet your needs in college.

4. If you are serious about a school, ask to meet a successful Disability Services student. Before making your final choice, ask about spending the night with that student. You will have a better idea of ​​whether or not you would feel comfortable at that university.

5. FERPA – The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. Keep this in mind, though: Your parents’ support has helped you get to where you are today. Considering they’re footing the bill, it’s not unreasonable for parents to want to stay informed. “ML friendly” colleges allow you to sign a FERPA waiver.

6. The director of Disability Services sets the tone for the entire department. If he finds this person unpleasant, think twice about whether he would feel comfortable in college.

7. If your documentation is more than 3 years old, you must update it. Make sure the list of recommendations at the end of the documentation includes items critical to your success. (Of course, they must be supported by evidence).

8. Start exploring technologies you’ve never used but could help level the playing field for you. You can get an idea of ​​the different technologies when you visit the Disability Services offices at different universities.


9. You and your parents must meet with the director of Disability Services as soon as you are admitted. Bring your documentation with you. IEPS have no value in college.

10. The principal will review your documentation and then meet with you to discuss the accommodations that will be included in the letters to your teachers. One accommodation you should consider requesting is a reduced course load, at least for the first semester. Students can be considered full-time with as few as 6 credits, depending on the amount of work they can handle. Ask the principal to write a letter to your parents’ insurance company explaining your full-time status at a reduced charge, but don’t send the letter until requested.

11. Check back with the Disability Office at the start of school to pick up your accommodation letters. You must provide a letter to each instructor to whom you are disclosing. Find a private time before or after class to do this, or make an office-hours appointment with your instructor, so you can maintain your privacy. This meeting is a good opportunity to introduce yourself and explain your needs to your teachers.

12. The process of application, withdrawal and delivery of letters must be repeated every six months. If you need a change in accommodations, please discuss it with the Director of Disability Services.


13. Initial class selection is based on the results of the college placement exams taken by all freshmen. Remember that most universities prohibit the use of calculators for the math test. You should be prepared to do all the math the old-fashioned way. That means extensive Practice until this comes back naturally.

14. Your schedule should be balanced between challenging and easier courses. Take challenging classes three times a week, not two.

15. Classes must be personally selected by someone in the Disability Services office who knows your learning style and the instructors that are best for you.

16. Be on the lookout for recommendations from your friends about interesting teachers, but make sure they follow your learning style before you sign up.


17. For most freshmen, tutoring three times a week is recommended to get off to a good start. Consider the empowerment of mentoring; the more help you have initially, the sooner you will feel confident in your abilities.

18. As you become stronger and more metacognitive (the state of learning to learn), your learning specialist may suggest that you gradually reduce the tutoring. Over time, some students may be able to access tutoring on an as-needed basis, rather than a standing appointment.

©2007 Joan Azarva

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