An Ivy League college is pretty much always going to be a reach on a student’s college list. Yet, there is one scenario when an Ivy League college can actually be considered a target (somewhere between a reach and a safety).
It is exceedingly rare for an Ivy League college or university to be considered a safety on a student’s college list, but it does happen on rare occasions. Don’t hold your breath that you’ll find yourself in one of these two scenarios, but if you do, consider yourself lucky.
Scenario 1 when an Ivy League college COULD be a safety:
Scenario 2 when an Ivy League college COULD be a safety:
Click here to learn about a scenario when an Ivy League college could be considered a target (a college in the section of your list between the safety colleges and the reach colleges) on a student’s college list.
I could tell this was not going to be a typical meeting with a college representative. He walked into my office with absolutely no hurry, as if this was all he had to do all day, and talked about his school from the heart, not from a memory-committed checklist of things someone else told him to say. When I asked questions, he left a space between when I stopped talking, and when he started his answer, never once referring me to the school’s website, or the college catalog. This was clearly a guy who knew his school as well as he knew his middle name.
It was also notable that he didn’t talk about his school in some theoretical abstract. We do that a lot in college admissions, where we talk about a college in the third person, like it’s some kind of god. He mostly talked about the students at his school, what they were doing, what they liked about being there. He knew that’s what makes the college experience work for a student—who you go to school with. He wasn’t going to waste my time reciting scores and rankings, because Rugg’s could tell me about scores, and rankings were, well, pretty pointless. If you have time to talk with someone face-to-face, the conversation should be a giving of self, not of data, and that meant talking about things that mattered. What matters most in college is the students.
After he said everything he thought I should know, he got up and gave me his card. As I recall, he said something about how he’d like to hear from me, but the university had made it kind of hard to get hold of him, with a student aide and a secretary standing between him and every incoming call, but he urged me to persist. After he’d left, I read his card, and realized I’d just spent forty-five minutes talking to a Director of Admissions who had made a cold call to my high school.
That was my introduction to Tom Weede, who passed on earlier this month, leaving this world and our profession all the poorer. The outpouring of loss has come from all circles of our field, and it all contains one common message; Tom was the rare person who not only felt you mattered; he made sure you knew you mattered. He trusted you with his opinion, and trusted that you would step up and let him know how you felt in turn, even if you saw things differently. His advocacy in the profession was focused on students, and when he engaged you in conversation, you felt, as George Bailey once said, that he knew you all the way to your back collar button.
Tom’s come to mind quite a bit this summer, and not just because of his passing. I’ve been besieged by a number of students and parents flooding my office with requests to make college plans, and they’re all ninth and tenth graders. One father called and insisted he had to meet with me right away, since his son was a junior, and had no college plans at all. The student’s name wasn’t familiar to me, so I looked him up. Turns out he was a sophomore, but since his father called the day after school was over, calling his son a junior made things sound more important, I guess.
That’s the kind of month it’s been. One parent wants to meet to talk about “college strategy,” another one is convinced his ninth grader’s chances at graduate school are already shot because the student has no plans for this summer. It’s easy enough to get caught up in the mania the media is peddling as college readiness, but it’s never hit the ninth and tenth graders like this before. Worse, it seems to be hitting their parents, and too many of them are succumbing to the herd mentality of college angst, abandoning their post as sentinels of their children’s youth.
If there’s any remedy to this, I’d like to think it’s the calm, listening voice of the Tom Weedes that are still with us. Tom did most of his preaching to admissions officers, and none of us were smart enough to ever ask him if he’d thought about saying this to kids and families. Since similar voices are doing the same thing, it’s time to ask them to broaden their scope, before SAT flash cards become the in gift for bar mitzvahs.
Voices like Ken Anselment, Heath Einstein, and Tamara Siler do a very nice job of reminding colleagues that that the college selection process is all about the kids. What’s needed now is for them to share their insights with a larger audience, giving kids permission to be kids. It would be a great way to honor Tom’s memory. Better still, it would be the right thing to do for our world.
It’s been an incredibly wet spring here in Michigan, so bad that I’ve had three students ask me about colleges that offer dual degrees in shipbuilding and animal husbandry. To make matters worse, the cloudy atmosphere outside seems to have influenced what’s going on inside the world of college admissions, at least as far as media coverage is concerned.
For reasons that are hard to explain, the usual torrent of Colleges See Record Application Year stories has been replaced by an addiction to three story lines that have held the public’s attention longer than fidget spinners. What’s especially puzzling about the focus on these trio of topics is that, at least in the quietude of their offices behind closed doors, most admissions personnel and college counselors respond to them by asking, “What’s the big deal?”
While articles abound offering insights on what these Big Three could mean to the future of college counseling, it might be important to understand how long these issues have already been with us, before we offer any conjecture on what should be influencing the field come this fall.
Story Line 1: Rich People Use Their Money to Get Special Treatment
When it comes to themes the media jumps on, what more could you ask for than a story that involves money, movies stars, and college admissions? This could explain the lingering fascination with the Varsity Blues/Aunt Becky story, but the real issue behind the story isn’t really news at all. From opening night tickets on Broadway to neighborhoods with the best schools to the best time and tables at Michelin restaurants, the wealthy and famous are always using their leverage and reputation to get advantages the rest of us simply can’t access.
This has been just as true in college admissions for years, and that’s not even close to being the secret the media is suggesting it is. When explaining how his alma mater builds an admissions class, an alumnus admissions representative unabashedly told me about twenty percent of the seats at his school automatically goes to children of alumni, “children of US Senators, and (people like) Tom Hanks’s son (NOTE—no, this is not the college attended by any of Tom Hanks’s sons). We do this, because we can.” Having recently paid many times more than the face value for Hamilton tickets, the effect of the wealthy on limited resources isn’t lost on me, and any college that has more applicants than seats is a limited resource.
Story Line 2: Colleges Think About Where Their Applicants Come From
The fallout of the Aunt Becky story had mercifully faded from the public’s radar right around the time College Board announced it has been developing an additional measure for colleges to use that aims to provide context about applicants’ backgrounds. Labelled as an “adversity index”, the score uses public data based on things like zip codes and crime rates to offer insights into where students were raised, and where they went to high school.
Once again, the response of most veteran admission officers to this news was “been there, done that, and have the spreadsheets to prove it.” College admissions officers have used socioeconomic factors for years when dealing with the tricky issue of evaluating applicants across different schools, including intangible factors that defy measurement. Since this has long been part of the art of college admissions, the notion that this is a new addition to the soup of decision making is specious. Adopting the College Board scale may lead to some changes in admissions decisions, but that’s more of a rearrangement of data than incorporation of new data. Not much to see here.
Story Line 3: Students Who Do Dumb Things Can Get Kicked Out of College
The only real question raised by Harvard’s removal of Kyle Kashov from next year’s freshman class for racist remarks on social media is how much the media would have covered this story if a) Kyle wasn’t a survivor of the Parkland shooting, or b) if this action had been taken by Southeast Michigan Tech rather than Harvard.
The admissions offer of every college—that’s every college—reminds the student that the offer is tentative, and can be revoked for any number of reasons. If your last semester as a high school senior shows your A-B average is now in the D-F range, we’ll wish you well. If it turns out you didn’t really write those admissions essays and we find out two years after you’ve been with us as a student, you’ll finish college somewhere else. If you make public remarks questioning the right of some of your fellow students to simply exist, that just won’t sit well with us. This really, really, isn’t news.
Real Issues for Next Fall
My hope is that the two months of sunshine will melt away America’s fascination over the last three months with admissions stories obsessed with the obvious, and we can move on to tackle issues that can move our profession, and our society, forward. Do highly selective colleges really spend less time recruiting urban and rural schools, simply because they’re harder to get to? Since there is no such thing as “free” college, what can really be done to get more students into and through college without a mountain of debt? How in the world does any student qualify for full cost of attendance aid and still have to choose between buying books and eating? These may not make for the most tranquil topics to consider whiling away a summer’s day in a hammock, but they remind us our work has ample purpose beyond board reports, yield ratios, and social media hits.
Earlier this month, I was trying to figure out what day it was. Rather than look at the calendar, I simply looked at the College Admissions Facebook page on my computer screen. There was one story about the record low admit rates at Ivy League colleges, four stories about how most colleges admit a vast majority of their applicants, and two or three reminders that it’s all about what you do in college, not where you do it.
“So” I said to myself, “it must be April 10th.” And I was right.
There is something equally comforting and disturbing about the college admissions grieving cycle. It begins in late March, when we all bemoan it’s easier to get struck by lightning than to get admitted to a selective school. Even the recent admissions scandal, replete with movie stars and lots of cash, played right into the timing of the “ain’t it awful” phase.
Early April gives way to requests for help with aid packages and muffled cries for some kind of reform from the madness of the application process. Mid-April begins the search for schools willing to accept great kids who somehow ended up with “nowhere” to go, and late April finds us back in the trenches, asking about colleges for really bright juniors who want to study Hungarian and elephants.
This is our version of thoughts and prayers. Like legislators tackling school safety, we look at the misshapen blob college admissions has become long enough to be horrified, only to get swept away by the need to make the broken system work just one more time, if only for the benefit of next year’s hardworking seniors. Major changes are just too far out of reach, and minor changes make no palpable difference, so we sigh and carry on, hoping a thoughtful social media post or two will somehow turn the tide. Real change, it seems, is beyond our grasp.
It isn’t. Like anything else that’s out of shape, moving in a new direction requires a little bit of time, and a ton of vision. No one in this profession is short on vision; they’re stymied by how to bring that vision to life. Here are some starter ideas.
College Admission Personnel who want to open up college access have all kinds of small projects that, when regularly tended to, can take on lives of their own.
- Buy lunch for someone on your student success team, and get an overview of their work. What students are doing well once they’re on campus, and which ones aren’t? Is there anything your institution can learn from the success of Georgia State, understanding that student success is far more than a cut and copy endeavor? What does any of this mean about who you’re recruiting—and, more important, if they have no idea who’s succeeding and why, why not?
- If you have two counselor fly-in programs, cut it to one. Use the new-found money to hold a three-day College Counselor Workshop for any school counselor in your area with less than five years’ experience. As a rule, counselor graduate programs teach nothing meaningful about college counseling. You know the counselors who know their stuff, and you have a NACAC affiliate at your disposal. Bring them in, and let them train your local rookies.
- As long as you’re at it, have coffee with the director of your graduate counseling program, and ask them if you can have a three-hour class period to talk about college admission. Most counselor educators will have the humility to admit they’ve been out of the college admissions game too long, so they’ll give you the time. Bring along two of your favorite counselors, and the grad students will be begging for more. If you don’t know what you’d do with those three hours, I have a program that’s in the box and ready to present, and you can have it.
- Call a test-optional college that looks like yours and ask how it’s going. The argument that test optional is a ruse to raise average test scores means nothing to the bright kid heading to University of Chicago this fall who can’t even spell SAT. If colleges that look like yours have figured out test scores mean nothing in the application of a straight A student– and they have– maybe your school could open things up, too.
High School Counselors have eight bajillion kids on their caseloads and duties that have nothing to do with counseling. That said, find a way to get to work twenty minutes early once a week, and pick one of these projects to work on:
- Shoot an email to the professional development chair of your NACAC affiliate and volunteer to be a mentor. Less than thirty graduate programs in the country devote a course to college counseling, and it’s showing. What you know about this profession will be an oasis to a new counselor, and most of the mentoring can occur through email and phone calls.
- Look at your messaging about college options. Do you tell students and parents about test optional colleges, community colleges, or state colleges with amazing residential programs? Use this time to bring yourself up to speed on the paths your students aren’t taking, then put together a plan for spreading the word to parents and students.
- When’s the last time you talked college with your middle school and elementary mental health partners? Opening up postsecondary options is as much a matter of changing the mindset of parents as it is presenting options to students—and if that’s starting in ninth grade, forget it. Ask your NACAC affiliate for grant opportunities to strengthen your K-8 postsecondary curriculum, and build the partnerships needed to make it work.
No one in this business was surprised last month to discover the wealthy have an advantage applying to college. What may come as a surprise is how much we can change that dynamic by throwing our hearts behind that change with twenty minutes a week, giving tangible shape to our thoughts, prayers, and deepest hopes for this profession.
While not exactly a “side door,” a new gate has opened to some Virginia students deferred from University of Virginia’s Class of 2023 – as long as they are willing to spend a year in rural Wise, Virginia.
Joining the ranks of colleges offering “alternative” routes to admission, the University of Virginia is proposing that a select group of students postpone starting in Charlottesville and spend a year at UVa-Wise, a small liberal arts college located not far from the Kentucky border.
“We are offering Virginians who were placed on the wait list for the College of Arts and Sciences the opportunity to enroll at the UVA College at Wise located in Southwest Virginia for one year before automatically enrolling at UVA in Charlottesville. Students in this program must complete 30 hours of transferrable credit post high school graduation at UVA-Wise with a 3.0 cumulative GPA or better to transfer into the College of Arts and Sciences at UVA.”
UVa has always had a great relationship with Virginia’s community college system and annually admits students earning two-year associates degrees through a guaranteed admission program. The UVa-Wise transfer offer is something new and wasn’t announced until notices went out to students wait listed for fall 2019 admission to UVa.
But not everyone was excited by the prospect of spending a year in rural Virginia, even if it meant an automatic transfer to the University of Virginia. Students posting on College Confidential had mixed reactions. One noted that UVa-Wise is “very much in the middle of nowhere,” while another pointed out that “it also seems to be a very small school, but maybe that would just mean more a more personalized education for the first year?”
One Fairfax County Public School student didn’t know much about UVa-Wise, but thought his offers at William and Mary and Virginia Tech made better sense for him. While he’s opting to stay on the UVa wait list, he has no intention of beginning his college career in Wise, Virginia. He added, “I don’t know anyone considering the offer.”
A member of the UVa-Wise Class of ’90 was quick to respond, “Is it small? Yes. Is the Town of Wise small? Yes. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a freshman. The classes are much less overcrowded, but the professors have very high standards and the academic rigor is there. The education is top notch.”
And the underlying message was clear, “If a year in Wise got you a ticket into Charlottesville and that’s your dream school, why not take it?”
Founded in 1954 as the Clinch Valley College of the University of Virginia, UVa-Wise first offered four-year degrees in 1966 and officially changed its name to the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, in 1999.
Since reaching a peak enrollment of 2,420 in 2012, UVa-Wise has steadily decreased in size to the point that the website reports a current enrollment of 2,021.
But having made a significant investment in new facilities, the Commonwealth is not about to let the university fail. Last week, UVa-Wise announced a rollback of the three-percent tuition increased planned for 2019-20, to $11,154—a bit less than the $14,094 in-state tuition (not including UVa’s substantial fees) planned for Charlottesville next year. In return for eliminating the tuition increase, UVa-Wise will receive an additional $235,000 from the Virginia General Assembly.
In addition, the General Assembly recently approved legislation allowing the college to offer reduced tuition to students who live within the Appalachian Regional Commission territory, which stretches from rural New York to Mississippi.
According to a press release, “The law is seen as one way for the liberal arts college, a division of the University of Virginia, to counter the same enrollment drop that is affecting most higher education institutions across the nation.”
But aside from some possible enrollment benefits for UVa-Wise, the University of Virginia is experimenting with a growing trend in higher education, which has created an underground network of alternative admissions offers. And these unexpected options contribute significantly to the confusion and stress faced by college applicants at this time of year.
For example, without apparent regard for harm done to freshman retention rates at other institutions, Cornell University admits students as sophomores, as long as they spend freshman year at another college or university and meet certain academic requirements. Northeastern University admits some freshman provided they study abroad for the first semester, while the University of Maryland admits students for the spring semester and encourages those students to take part in a fall program on campus where they could only take classes late in the afternoon or evening.
At Hamilton College, second semester admits may participate in a “gap” semester or enroll in courses at Arcadia University, at their London campus. The University of Southern California offers the “Trojan Transfer Plan,” through which students are provided with “a clear and predictable path to enrolling at USC for sophomore year” by attending a community college or one of four colleges in Europe. The University of Vermont, Middlebury College, Brandeis University, Rochester University, Michigan State, as well as the University of Tampa all offer second semester admission. And the list goes on.
On the plus side, these alternative admission plans offer students the possibility of attending their dream schools, even though they may not have been admissible as freshmen for the fall semester. On the other hand, these plans provide ways for colleges to dodge reporting lower scores or GPAs for the incoming class and to fill vacancies left by students traveling abroad or transferring out.
But the UVa-Wise offer seems to have a broader objective and could potentially benefit both schools. According to Kathy Still, UVa-Wise communications director, “Accepting students from the deferred list would further strengthen the relationship between Campus and Grounds,” which administratively share UVa President Jim Ryan and the UVa Board of Visitors.
While the College at Wise is unsure how many prospective UVa students will opt to take advantage of the new program, Ms. Still advises that “…interest is high and calls to our admissions office are brisk.” She goes on to add, “The students who enter the program would find an engaging faculty, rigorous academic classes, and they would leave after one year with 30 credit hours under their belts. It’s a win-win situation.”
The world of college admissions ended 2018 with a rash of articles focused on student stress and the college application process. The themes were familiar—the pressure of applying is great, the expectations are high, the effect of rejection is too extreme—but this recent spate of articles differed in the sheer number of them. In a year when even the federal government felt compelled to examine the role of mental health in student safety, it seems the world of college admissions may be willing to rethink some of its most cherished beliefs, all in the interest of supporting the sanity and healthy growth of the students.
If that’s really the case, I’d like to suggest a pretty easy jumping off point for change—end the January 1 college application deadline. I’m not exactly new to the world of college admissions, and this deadline has never made sense to me. High school counseling offices aren’t open on January 1, so we can’t send any documents to support applications. Even worse, high school counseling offices aren’t open from December 24 through at least the first of the year, so we can’t offer students any meaningful help with essays, activity lists, or other application logistics during crunch time. That may matter little to applicants whose parents started an Ivy League college, but to the students we say we’d like to create more opportunities for, this last-minute help is a big deal.
This deadline also gives counselors the annual moral dilemma of offering to check email during the holidays, or coming in and holding application workshops on their days off, but that puts their mental health at risk—and if you think that has nothing to do with the well being of students, you clearly haven’t seen a high school counselor working on their last nerve.
What’s even more mystifying is that college admissions offices themselves aren’t open on January 1. Stories float up here and there about a handful of admissions offices requiring their junior staffers to come in for a few hours to take phone calls, but by and large, students waiting until the last minute to apply are left to their own resources. If it’s really so important to have applications in by January 1, why aren’t any of the applications that meet the deadline touched in any way until at least January 2?
This is where the old school, nudge-nudge-winkery of college admissions comes into play. The only response I’ve ever received from colleges that could be considered a defense of the January 1 deadline is a logistical one: the reason we ask for the materials by January 1 is so we know we’ll have them when we really need them, which is more along the lines of January 10.
This argument made tremendous sense in the days when college applications were mailed (even though the US Post Office is closed January 1), but the digital age assures us that anything needed at the end of the day on January 10 can be sent an hour before the end of the day on January 10, and get there.
The only argument left for this “send it before we really need it” strategy is the vagaries of a 17 year-old’s understanding of deadlines—colleges argue they are doing students a favor telling them they need applications before they really do. But if high school seniors don’t know it’s OK to be late—and what high school counselor in their right mind wants to ever send that message to a student—this “favor” becomes a major source of stress, where students sacrifice the last long December holiday of their youth to meeting a deadline that doesn’t really exist. Wouldn’t their stress level be better served gathered ‘round the big screen, imbibing in the traditional family ritual of watching that penultimate holiday classic, Die Hard?
It’s easy enough for a high school counselor to point out all the things colleges can do to support the mental health of applicants, and there’s plenty we high school folks should be doing as well. Still, when I think about the low-hanging fruit that can dramatically change the tone of the college application process, the January 1 deadline is the first, but not only, thing that comes to mind. It’s worth a review.
What’s the best order of operations for rising seniors to complete strong and differentiated college applications over the summer before their senior year in high school? In the first of a series of beachfront advice posts to celebrate summer, we have the answers that will ensure that you don’t waste time or need to back track while giving you the the longest time possible to finalize your college list. If you haven’t yet put together an extracurricular resume for your college applications, start one now using our online course, which will give you the perfect format to start organizing your extracurricular and eventual professional resume.
According to NACAC’s (National Association for College Admission Counseling) College Openings Update (formerly the Space Availability Survey) over 500 colleges and universities still have amazing opportunities for qualified freshman and/or transfer students for fall 2017. And many of these schools also have financial aid and housing to offer.
Now in its 30th year, the Update is a wonderful search tool for counselors, parents and teachers as they work with students who have not yet completed the college application and admission process. The listing applies equally for students who may have gotten a late start on their applications as well as for those who weren’t totally satisfied with admissions results received by the May 1 response deadline observed by many colleges.
Typically, colleges continue to join the Update after the public release date until the page closes on June 30. The Update isn’t really a survey, but more of a voluntary “bulletin board style” listing for NACAC member institutions or about 1,300 U.S. four-year colleges (leaving out about 1000 U.S. four-year colleges). This year, about 64 percent of colleges on the Fall 2017 Update are private and 36 percent are public. NACAC member two-year institutions were also invited to participate, and a small number appear on the list.
Note that if an institution—of any description—does not appear on the list, it does not necessarily mean there are no openings there. Not every college chooses to participate.
Nevertheless, the NACAC list contains some amazing opportunities in every corner of the country.
For example, Arizona State University, Belmont University (TN), the College of Charleston (SC), Drew University (NJ), Hofstra University (NY), High Point University (NC), Oregon State University (OR), Pennsylvania State University, Ohio Wesleyan University, St. Joseph’s University (PA), Union College (NY), the University of Arizona, the University of North Carolina Wilmington (NC), the University of Oregon, the Wentworth Institute of Technology, and West Virginia University are posting space available for the fall.
And Appalachian State University (NC), Baylor University (TX), Elon University (NC), Marquette University (WI), Providence College (RI), Skidmore College (NY), Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ), the University of Delaware, the University of Denver (CO), the University of Florida, and the University of San Diego (CA) have spaces for transfers.
In Maryland, Coppin State University, Frostburg State University, Goucher College, Hood College, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Stevenson University, Loyola Maryland University, St. John’s College, UMBC, the University of Maryland and Washington College indicate they will consider qualified freshman and transfer students.
To the south in Virginia, Emory and Henry College, Hollins University, Longwood University, Lynchburg College, Mary Baldwin University, Radford University, Randolph College, Randolph-Macon College, Shenandoah University, the University of Mary Washington, Virginia Wesleyan College, and Sweet Briar College also show space and resources left for students still looking for fall 2017 placement.
Note that this list is highly fluid. “Admission is an ongoing process for many institutions,” NACAC CEO Joyce E. Smith has noted in the past.
Over the next several weeks, colleges will finish reviewing their incoming classes for vacancies and if they want to publicize openings, they will add their names to the Update. Already, the list has risen from about 350 colleges when survey data was first published to 520 colleges and universities, as of this publication. So keep checking back!
In addition to the NACAC survey, colleges still accepting applications may be found by searching the College Board, Common Application and Universal College Application (UCA) websites (specific instructions are found here). As of May 9, 2017 the Common App shows 327 members still open to new applicants, including Eckerd College (FL), the Florida Institute of Technology, Lynn University (FL), Marymount University (VA), North Carolina State University (NC), the University of New Haven (CT), Widener University (PA) and Xavier University (OH). The UCA lists 30 colleges and universities still accepting first-year students for fall 2016, including Bryant University (RI), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY), the Rochester Institute of Technology (NY), the University of Tampa (FL) and the University of Wyoming.
The bottom line is that you need to move quickly. Colleges will only entertain applications as long as they have space available.
For the most up-to-date information on specific colleges, contact the admissions offices of the schools directly. You may be surprised how glad they are to hear from you!
Students with learning differences (LD) including Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and their parents, while taking into account grades, scores, goals, and preferences like other students and parents navigating the college admissions process, should also take time to investigate special college programs and to provide supplementary application materials to colleges if students are to have the most positive four year experience. To that end, and with the help of Peterson’s Colleges for Students With Learning Disabilities or AD/HD, let’s elucidate the research/application process for students and parents and answer two key questions:
What do you need to prepare and organize?
What should you be looking for when reviewing your college options?
The More Documentation The Better
Unlike when applying to or dealing with high schools, students with LD/ADD must provide more documentation than just an IEP (Individualized Education Program) or 504 Plan (a program of instructional services to assist students with special needs who are in a regular education setting) when applying for special support programs at colleges and universities. For the best chance at getting the resources you need for four years, get ready to provide most (if not all) of the following documentation (in addition to any college-specific requirements) in order to give yourself the best shot at receiving the most comprehensive accommodations available at colleges on your list:
- A Diagnostic Statement Identifying Condition(s)
Classification codes should be from the most up to date editions of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) or the International Classifications of Disease (ICD). Original diagnosis dates along with most current evaluation dates should be included
- Current Functional Impact of the Condition
Detailed results from formal and informal tests should be sent in the form of both raw results and narrative explanations
- Treatments, Medications, and Assistive Devices/Services Currently Prescribed or In Use
In addition make sure to include detailed information on any side effects resulting from such methods
- The Expected Progression or Stability of The Impacts Described Over Time
- Recommended Accommodations And Services
- Credentials of The Evaluator
A brief description of the evaluator’s experience is also helpful
The Best Psychoeducational Batteries Include 5 Key Components
- Adult Referenced Testing
- A Measure of Aptitude
- A Standardized Measure Of Academic Achievement
- Measures of Cognitive Processes Impacted
- Clinical Observations
What About Your Evaluation of Colleges?
Enough about you! How do you find the colleges that will be most receptive and accommodating to your needs? It’s up to you to figure out what types of support you are going to need for four years in college, but keep in mind you will be in a new environment, so you may want to err on the side of more support. Four-year colleges can be nicely broken down into two categories depending on how they deal with LD/ADD students.
The first type of college has what can be referred to as “Aggressive/Structured” Programs. These colleges go beyond what is mandated by law to support their LD or ADD population and as a result often include extra fees and separate admissions processes for students with LD/ADD. In some cases, these schools have an entire department or program devoted specifically for LD/ADD students. This translates into support at almost every stage of your undergraduate educational experience.
The second type of college has what can be referred to as “Passive/Self-Directed” Programs. These colleges will require LD/ADD students go through the same process for admissions as everybody else, rarely charge extra fees, but as a result also rarely monitor the student’s progress or performance. Depending on the college, different offices or multiple offices may be tasked with supporting the LD/ADD student, but the student will be responsible for acting as the conductor.
What does all this mean in practice? Well, different things at different colleges, even within colleges that advertise similar services. The best place to begin your search it to look at three very different size colleges (briefly described below) that provide top of the line “Aggressive/Structured” Programs. As you search, remember to compare and contrast services at the three colleges. Once you want to expand your search to more colleges, refer back to the pros and cons of these three colleges when formulating questions to ask of college officials.
The general idea is: Even if you can’t buy the Rolls Royce, you want to see how many of the add-ons of a Rolls Royce are available in other cars, so look at the Rolls Royce first so you will be comparing all future cars to it. You may find you don’t need or want “Aggressive/Structured” Programs, and will look at only at “Passive/Self-Directed” Programs. Or you may find you would be successful at either type of college, and therefore include both types on your list. Visit college websites, and as your search becomes more serious, visit the colleges.
**Note: Just because a college is not summarized below does not mean it is not a great destination for LD or ADD students. In fact, some of the smallest, most obscure colleges specialize in offering programs for LD or ADD students (Mount Ida, McDaniel, Mitchell, and Beacon), while some of the most well-known colleges also offer “Aggressive/Structured” Programs (George Mason University, American University, and Hofstra University). Good Luck with your search!
University of Arizona
The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center
520-621-8493 or 520-621-1427, ask for assistant director of admissions or head of LD program
University of Arizona in beautiful and hot Tucson, Arizona is the largest school on this list with around 34,000 students. The school has a generally numbers-based admissions process. Most importantly, Arizona’s fee-for-service Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center provides students with Learning Differences a way to focus their course of study and not get lost amidst all the hustle and bustle of such an exciting and busy campus as Arizona’s. 500 undergrads are served by SALT, which has roughly 22 full-time staff members including tutors, graduate assistants, tutors, and specialists. A mandatory one-day orientation is required before classes start. Tutoring (one-on-one and group) is provided in most subjects. According to its Website, “SALT students receive individualized educational planning and monitoring, assistance from trained tutors with course work, and an array of workshops geared toward the individual academic needs of these students.” Students must apply directly to the program and fees range anywhere from $1,600 – $4,000.
University of Denver
The Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP)
303-871-2372, ask for head of LD program or director of University disability services
Out west like University of Arizona, but further to the north, is the University of Denver. Why the University of Denver? Denver, with roughly 6,000 students offers one of the most comprehensive programs in the country for students with learning differences. The fee-for-service Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP) has roughly 11 full-time staff members and serves roughly 200 undergrads each year while also providing “a variety of services designed to support each student’s academic experience, including individual academic counselors, tutoring, and organizational and study strategies specialists.” The LEP philosophy emphasizes student responsibility, self-awareness, and self-advocacy. At its core LEP strives to empower students to develop the skills needed to attain academic and personal success while at DU and beyond. Tutoring is available in all subjects, either one-on-one or in groups.
Boca Raton, Florida
The Institute for Achievement and Learning
561-237-7900 or 561-237-7881, ask for head of LD program or executive director of the IAL
Lynn University in sunny and warm Boca Raton, Florida offers arguably the best program for bright, sociably independent students with learning differences. Lynn’s Institute for Achievement and Learning comprehensive support program serves several hundred of the school’s 2,000 undergraduate students and has a staff of 11 full-time employees and 35 part-time employees. Staff includes tutors (tutoring is available in all subjects), LD specialists, and diagnostic/learning specialists. A two-day orientation is mandatory before freshman year. It provides tutoring by professional tutors in all subjects. The more support needed by a student, the greater the cost; however, this is one university where the higher price tag is worth it.
For more information, please contact the colleges directly.
For a full directory of special programs for LD/ADD students, a good first stop is Peterson’s Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities or AD/HD.