How Your Student with Learning Differences Can Have a Smoother College Experience

     Students going off to college with a diagnosis of Learning Difference will have an experience unique to them, which means it is also likely to be a new experience for the parents.  Many times these students are accustomed to accommodations and support provided by their high school and/or parents while living at home. It is important to pay close attention to what they may want and need when approaching the college process, or signing up for support at the college. 

     There are many areas of learning that can be affected by the diagnosis of Learning Differences, and yet a student can be successful in college if they understand what compensatory skills they need.  LD students may have challenges in so many areas, for example:  Speech/conversation, testing, concentrating, listening and focusing, spelling, writing, reading, planning, organization, following through, and remembering.  Some students may be strong in some areas and weak in others. 

     What happens if you are an individual who has experienced difficulty integrating information presented orally, which can also occur outside of the classroom?  What would help to make the information in class (and life) easier to comprehend and recall? Some ideas would be to record the lecture/class, make an appointment with the professor or graduate assistant, after the class to review key lecture material.  In some courses, professors will be presenting new and abstract concepts, therefore, it’s important to associate the presented material with personal experiences. Perhaps there are some visual tools a LD student can create to help better understand and learn. 

     The slow reader may have a challenge with keeping pace with the reading demands of the professor. Are any of the text books available in an auditory format? It’s helpful to find out in advance what textbooks are being used in the class and see if a company such as Learning Ally, or other similar resources, has them or could have them recorded ahead of the class starting. Another suggestion is taking pictures of the board to be sure notes are correct, but it is important to notify the professor beforehand. Don’t be afraid to ask a professor to repeat complicated directions if they have not written them down.

     Don’t forget to update your testing in order to apply and receive accommodations. I love the idea of being able to have priority registration and a note taker.  There is more awaiting a student who is willing to reach out and talk about what helps them be successful. Colleges want students to stay and learn and not burn out and fail. Don’t be afraid to speak up.

During this difficult time, we are here for you, as we always have been, to help consider safe, educational and therapeutic opportunities for your adolescent/young adult.