An Open Letter To Explained How Structure Support Programs Make A Difference, by Eileen

By March 15, 2023 Eileen, NVLD Bloggers

To Dr. Anne- My first time meeting you when we came down  to finalize my Arch Accommodation Plan I didn’t know what to totally expect as you had some doubts but yet were also impressed by my determination and work ethics. What greatly impressed me is how during it you focus first on these traits first and then share some ways I would be successful. One of them was to check in with you weekly and thankfully I listened to you. What I remember most was you telling me after only a month at Dean that I was a student who you no longer had to worry about. This was special to me as so many believed college was the wrong choice for me, yet here I was at college being successful. You truly set a wonderful example of how students with an NVLD and other Learning Disabilities, when given some extra attention, are successful in college. For me this led to you seeing my ability first and becoming a real advocate to me. You even made sure the locks in my dorm got changed to ID cards only  as you saw the key was too tricky for me. You truly were an incredible program director and my strongest advocate.

To LarryT-  Right away you were extremely helpful throughout the application process as you knew our family decisions were unique for a student with a Learning Disability living in rural upstate NY . As you had family there, you made sure that the Admission’s team focused on my recommendations and honors more than my test scores and overall GPA. You knew it was quite possible I didn’t receive any test prep and was likely the only Learning Disabled  student who chose to always take a full academic program and be in school activities. You were right and we were so lucky you were in charge of ARCH applicants. As a result I was accepted and we are forever grateful as Dean gave me everything I needed. You were a tremendous part of my success too. What I remember the most is how you and Dr. Anne talked to me at the end of the first semester about how proud you were of me. This truly made me think I wish my high school understood why more students like myself should be going to a school like Dean as you didn’t just accept us to the program you became an advocate for us too.

To Arch Classmates- Looking back I realized how beneficial it was to have our first semester Psychology and First Year Seminar classes be just us. It truly made it easier  to understand the importance of using all of the wonderful support programs that ARCH offered us and navigating  the process of setting up our accommodations. In addition by being all together Dr. Anne and Larry were able to come speak to our first year seminar classes in the beginning so we got to know them both and we learned how we would be successful immediately. It truly speaks about how the built in academic and peer support that a structured program provides makes all the difference in the world  for students like us and I hope more will start to understand this.

To NVLD/LD students- I can’t stress to you enough how structured support programs make a difference as the program leaders and Learning Disabilities Specialists become your biggest advocates which ensures academic and personal success. In addition you form an incredible peer support system too by getting to know your classmates in the program. At colleges with basic support services you will only receive the basic accommodations and will have to take more ownership for your academic needs and as a result you have a higher risk for falling through the cracks. So please remember to include colleges with structured support programs in your post-secondary plans as they provide amazing opportunities for academic, social, and personal success.

To RR teachers/school counselors-While colleges with structured support programs are generally more expensive they truly increase the likelihood for success and are worth the extra expense. At colleges with just basic support services the students generally just meet with the disability coordinator once during the first week of classes to receive their accommodation plan and then after that they are on their own for support. In structured support programs like Dean’s  Arch  directors act like a school counselor and the Learning Specialists act like a resource room teacher thus they provide all of the support that a student needs. Also, beyond  academics these programs provide an incredible peer support system as well. So  please start recommending colleges with structured support programs more often as I know your students will be as successful as I was at Dean.


Eileen is a Project Social Ambassador and blogger for The NVLD Project. She loves helping others understand they can achieve their goals and dreams through hard work and dedication.

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