Learning Differences….

If you have one of the 16 common categories of learning differences, you may have started to have some questions about college and how that will look for you.  First of all, let me reassure you that you can have an awesome college experience and there is a perfect college fit and match for you!  You can have success and you can do this thing called higher education!! 

Maybe your high school experience has been rather smooth, with a support network around you, a specialized plan in place for your learning needs, and a successful navigation of the challenges you face.  Maybe your experience has not been great, though, and you have tried to figure out what seems different with your way of learning from others around you, why you struggle to complete tasks, or why you can’t process things the way you think you should.  As you move toward college and start to look at schools and all that they offer, if you have any of these challenges listed below, you will need to be equipped to journey into the world of higher education, to find the support you need, and to advocate for yourself.

Learning Differences:

















There are several levels of support for you if you are struggling with a learning difference.  You may simply need accommodations for some of your challenges– things like extra time on tests, a note-taker, audio books, etc.  Maybe your needs involve those things plus some skill building helps.  Or maybe you also need a structured learning support program.  Finally, you may be best suited in a LD/ADHD/ASD exclusive program or university.  The important thing is that you know your needs.  

Have you ever read your educational testing that was done in high school?  Did you know that only 14% of students with learning differences have ever read their IEP or 504 testing? If you have not looked at your IEP or 504 plan (Parents, you know what these are, so now is the time to share!), you are now certainly ‘old enough’ to read what all of those tests noted in your processing and learning differences.  If it has been several years since you were tested, you will need a new psychoeducational or neuropsychological evaluation done before college so that you can receive the services you need.  Testing has to be within 3 years of the date you will enter college, not any older.

As you visit colleges on your list, you should definitely visit the Office of Student Learning Support or the Office of Disabilities while you are there.  They will be able to tell you how they handle your particular needs and what it could look like for you at their college.  Be bold to ask questions.  Here is a list of great things to ask and to look for in your search (from Landmark College)

  • Are services provided geared specifically towards learning disabilities or is it a generalized support program?
  • Is the program monitored and staffed by full or part-time personnel – and how many of them are there?
  • What accommodations are typically provided?
  • What specialized training in learning disabilities do the faculty and staff have?
  • Is assistance provided one-to-one or in a group?
  • What is the student to support specialist ratio?
  • Does the program have student or professional tutors?
  • Is tutoring provided in all subjects?
  • How well do faculty accept LD students?
  • Can students with learning disabilities take a reduced course load?
  • Who does the academic advising for LD students?
  • How many students are enrolled in the program and what is the percentage of LD students in the general student population?
  • How established is the support services program?
  • Are there additional fees for services?
  • Is there remedial or developmental coursework offered?
  • Besides academic support, what is provided in the area of personal and emotional counseling?
  • What is the retention rate of LD students?
  • What is the application process – what is required for admission?
  • Is there a social skills development component to the program?
  • Are textbooks available on tape?
  • Is there a summer or pre-college session available to incoming freshmen?
  • What type of learning disabilities does the college serve – verbal based, ADHD, NLD, etc.?
  • What is the reputation/history of the LD program?
  • What types of adaptive/assistive technology does the college have?

You want to make sure that you will have the support that you need to be successful, so be bold and ask!  All U.S. colleges have a disabilities office, so you should be able to find it easily.  

And again, you can be successful and you can do this!  Take ownership and seek out the help you need! 

Here are some helpful links:





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