By Jan Kerchner, Certified Educational Planner
From entrepreneurs to celebrities, airline founders to financiers, investors to authors, people with learning differences have been many of the game changers in our society. Your student is in good company!
College is the logical next step after high school and, with appropriate advanced planning, students with learning differences can have a successful college experience. Below are three critical items for parents of LD college bound students to consider when preparing for the college admission process. In all cases, early transition planning for college is key to your student’s personal and academic success.
1. Evaluate your student’s readiness for college and help them develop the skills to balance their academic and personal lives.
Be realistic about your student’s readiness to manage independent living while maintaining good grades. Balancing life and managing time in college can be difficult and students unprepared to do so, find themselves sleeping in their childhood bedroom during what should have been their second year of college.
If your student is still in middle school, there is time to develop the skills necessary to successfully manage academic and personal life. However, if your student is a junior in high school and you are still telling him when to go to bed, checking on his homework completion and reminding him of upcoming tests or soccer games, there is work to be done. Be honest with yourself and your student and if there are some weak areas, work on those now.
2. Identify the parameters necessary to maximize your student’s success in college.
With your student, prepare a list of factors that are key to his or her academic success. Consider the type, location, ambience and size of the college. But more importantly, consider the academic rigor and the level of LD friendliness of the college. Finally, define the accommodations needed for him or her to achieve academic success. Colleges offer a breadth of support services for students with learning differences. However, keep in mind that they vary from college to college. Research is tantamount to finding the right fit.
The accommodations being utilized by your student in his or her education are documented in your student’s Individual Educational Plan (IEP) and in the Psychological Educational Evaluation completed by the licensed psychologist who diagnosed your student. If your student is finding them useful in his or her current setting, look for colleges offering similar accommodations within their support services.