Part A:How Is Basic Support Is Very Different From Comprehensive Support in College, by Eileen

By April 5, 2023 Eileen, NVLD Bloggers

Over the years I have been asked by my former support team what my secret was for being successful in college  as so many like myself didn’t make it through college. The truth is there aren’t any secrets to my success. The difference was that I chose to attend schools with comprehensive support programs  where I received a great deal of academic and social support while they attended schools that offer only basic support which just gave only basic accommodations such as extended time.

For instance, if a student while in high school received resource room services more than the typical 5-6x times per cycle it  is no surprise they would struggle a great deal getting just  basic support in college as with basic support  you may just meet with the Disability Coordinator once  to receive your accommodation plan before each semester. After that you take full ownership of your academic needs. For  example when taking tests you need to turn in your extended time forms to your professor at least 48 hours in advance so the necessary arrangements can be made. Another example is tutoring. Believe it or not tutoring isn’t a mandated accommodation so  if you need tutoring you have to schedule each appointment as this isn’t part of your accommodations. Therefore as harsh as this sounds many students don’t have the time management and organization skills  to succeed with just basic support.

Whereas I was a comprehensive support program call Arch at Dean College  my accommodation plan included scheduled individual and group Learning Services from a Learning Specialist  so I received incredible support. Whether it was teaching us strategies to master course material or managing difficulties getting our required accommodations they were there for us. In addition, they kept close contact with our professors so they always knew where we needed the most assistance. Yes it requires  an extra fee as the service goes beyond federal guidelines however it helps prevent  students from falling through the cracks as your learning Specialist roles are quite similar to your former resource room teachers.

Furthermore  Dr. Smith, the Arch program director, connected with us immediately and emphasized the importance of forming a professional relationship with her. For example she came to our first  few First Year Seminar Classes which were Arch students only to talk about what Arch offered and what our responsibilities were. In doing this she made it clear her door was always open for us. This led to many of us including myself going to see her often and using the Learning Center as we could see she wanted us to succeed. Through knowing others who attended other colleges with comprehensive support  and by attending Curry College I learned that directors at other schools typically did things like this too as successful outcomes are so important otherwise the programs would be cut.

However I greatly believe the biggest reason why my transition from high school to college was more successful than others academically was that to receive comprehensive support you needed  to apply and be accepted into the program. So, the program directors and admissions counselors decide who is the best fit for their program  by reviewing  teacher and non-academic  recommendations, course selections, parents evaluations, not just Psychoeducational Evaluation scores. Therefore those who are accepted are more academically driven to succeed and are more likely to use the support being offered to them. For me personally this was a huge help as I never felt  ashamed asking for assistance. Also, parent involvement is common, especially in the first year, as with the extra fee for this level many students give their parents permission  to speak with the program director and their learning specialist which in turn increases successful outcomes. I noticed this  immediately and what impressed me the most was how many of us connected so well with our Arch Team and were driven to succeed with the support from Dean and our parents. This was true at Curry too.

That being said, there certainly weren’t any secrets to my success. I succeeded  because I received an incredible amount of support from  Dr. Smith and my learning specialist during my first semester and through that I always stayed a highly motivated student which gave me the skills to be able  to graduate from Dean and Curry College. Therefore, I can’t stress enough that comprehensive support truly offers so much more support  than basic support. For some students basic support isn’t nearly enough which in turn leads to more challenges. As I look back and I realize how much Dr. Smith had to help me  in the beginning. I know if I had just basic support at college I wouldn’t have made it given the nature of my NVLD.


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.