Navigating the College Process, by Eileen Herzog

By October 15, 2018NVLD Bloggers

While the process for choosing a college can be a difficult process for everyone it’s especially harder for a student with NVLD as you need to pick a college that is “disability friendly.” Each of the schools either have basic, coordinative, or comprehensive support and each level is extremely different. Basic support, only provides the required accommodations by ADA, thus it has the lowest rate for success as students need to be a strong advocate for themselves, and have to take control of their own academics as individualized attention isn’t available to them. Coordinated Services like basic support is free however they offer more support. Learning Disability specialist are on staff for “drop in” help and they include added accommodations like organizational assistance and course substitutions. Students can succeed more at this level as individual attention is offered. The highest level of support offered is comprehensive support.

Dean College

This level often comes with a fee and separate admission process as support is intensive and includes an assigned Learning Disability Specialist where each session is considered a class. As a result, there are mandatory programs students have to take part in, for instance, how to use assistive technology programs. Since there is so much structure to facilitate learning, students who are dedicated do exceptionally well with this level of support.

In my personal experience having a father nicknamed “the college specialist” I visited several schools with varying levels of support programs. I eventually chose Dean as it was clear their comprehensive support program could accommodate my diverse needs. Each session with my learning specialist was geared towards my needs. What impressed me the most was how our instructors emailed our professors to see how we were doing bi-weekly. Each concern was then shared with us so we could work through them before they became too deep. For example, my instructor spoke to the biology department chair about getting a teacher’s assistant assigned to me for my biology labs as my weak fine motor skills made it difficult to complete the lab. It was a tremendous accommodation for me. I truly believe if every LD student could attend a college with strong support our graduation rates would be higher. After Dean, I was better prepared to attend my next college, Curry, where I needed only coordinated services to finish my degree.

My advice is to explore all of your options and if the high cost of the comprehensive support programs scare you don’t cross them off your list right away it is quite possible scholarship money is available as these schools believe in creating equal opportunities. For example, Dean and Curry have scholarships for determined students to attend their LD programs while Syracuse University offers tremendous scholarships for all qualified disabled students as they are the pioneers of inclusion. Overall, while considering schools, it is important to include schools who offer all levels of support and in the end decide what would make the most sense for you and your family.

Eileen Herzog

I love my college friends!

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