Tips for College-Bound Kids with Learning Differences

By Nancy Whetstone (with Sharon Wolfe)

Helping students find the right school at the right price is our mission. And, we work with students with a wide range of academic aptitudes, skill sets, extracurricular interests and personal qualities. I find it especially rewarding working with students with learning differences.

Among the additional considerations College Liftoff takes into account when college planning for students who have learning differences are support services that the student may require–tutoring and coaching, homework help, assistive technologies and even program modifications. I just love sharing success stories from families we have worked with, especially those students who have great potential to succeed but face cognitive, language, auditory or processing challenges.

We had the pleasure of working with Eddie Wolfe for the past two years from the career exploration phase through the college selection process. Eddie, who graduated from Marburn Academy in June 2017, explored several business/marketing programs before deciding on DePaul University.

There are any number of accommodations that can be made for students like Eddie who learn differently. At DePaul’s Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD), students can be supported through:

  • Extended time on placement exams
  • Extended time on exams
  • Exam proctoring in a distraction-reduced environment
  • Exam reader
  • Exam transcriber
  • Course selection consultation
  • Adaptive equipment
  • Assistive technology
  • Student advocacy
  • Priority registration
  • Real-time captioning
  • Enlarged print or braille
  • Sign language interpreting

“The CSD at DePaul reviewed Eddie’s Evaluation Team Report (ETR), educational background and his abilities as a student,” says Eddie’s Mother Sharon. “They offer the use of the SmartPen, which records everything he hears, says and writes during lectures.”

“DePaul’s CSD also ensures Eddie is offered extra time on tests, assistance with writing papers, along with tutors and counselors for any class issues he may have”, according to Sharon.

Sharon offers some advice for parents:

  • Share the history of the learning difference (when diagnosed and by whom); support services utilized (tutors, special schools, therapy, summer schools); and everything your child has done to make your son or daughter a successful student.
  • Provide a copy of the ETR.
  • Know what the school offers for your student before applying and enroll them in the student for disabilities department as early as possible.  
  • Ensure that your child is comfortable advocating for themselves so that they fully utilize the services available to them.

“Being enrolled with the CSD gives the student certain advantages like early class scheduling so that your son or daughter has first choice,” says Sharon.

“Eddie absolutely loves college life,” she continues. “His first quarter classes were not overly demanding and helped ensure a smooth transition. Eddie lives on-campus and found a compatible roommate through DePaul’s Department of Housing Services.”

“I am thrilled that Eddie is working hard toward his goals, making friends and adjusting well to campus life. We could not be more proud of him!”