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How to Transition into College with a Learning Disability

written by: Tia Ahmed•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 7/21/2010

Any type of learning disability can be very difficult to live with, especially if one is thinking about seeking a professional degree. The college transitioning for students with a learning disability may seem a very complicated process, but it doesn't have to be if one knew a little of the process.

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    Introduction to Learning Disabilities and College Life

    The word "disability" has a strong negative connotation associated with it on a psychological perspective. Many people, upon being diagnosed with a learning disability, may think it is the end of a higher education; however, according to the Learning Disabilities Association of America, many people with such disabilities are able to not only seek a college education, but excel in it and move on to graduate and other professional schools.

    Some of the learning disabilities that are usually accepted and listed as a learning disability by the American Psychological Association include Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Aphasia, and some institutions will take Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) into account, but it is not classified as a learning disability. These disabilities alone will not make college life any more difficult than it already will be. College transitioning for students with a learning disability maybe a few paper works, some phone calls, and additional social support away from starting a college education.

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    Filing for a Learning Disability

    Some colleges will only provide accommodation to their students if documentations have been filed. In other words, parents cannot claim their children has a disability and sign off on it. Psychiatric and clinical paperwork, such as documented cases recorded during sessions with counselors, grade trends, observational studies taken by counselors, etc, are used as documents along with specific forms that are provided by both the state and the institution. Usually, official documents are provided by someone outside of the school and are specialized in treating or diagnosing people with learning disabilities. If the learning disability is discovered later during the college year, there is usually a learning disabilities office or department on campus or near campus for the student to go to and have documentations made.

    When applying for a college, there are sections that ask if special accommodations are needed for the student. In these sections, documentations are attached. The number of documentations depends on the state and its laws on psychiatric care, for example, some states require additional paperwork from previous schools in order to simply things. Chances are, if the disability was claimed in high school, the documents are usually transferred to the college upon request; however, filing for such documents rely heavily on the specific requirements by the college and they may differ.

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    Support for those with Learning Disabilities

    Program support for college transitioning for students with a learning disability can differ depending on the college. When applying to colleges, make sure that college is able to provide enough social and academic support and not simply meet the state law requirements. Most colleges, under law, are supposed to provide counseling support for all physical and psychological disability for their students free of charge, especially if the stress is academically linked. Make sure to check their services and take advantage of them.

    Along with counseling services, students with learning disabilities may request one-on-one tutoring services that most colleges offer free of charge. Some colleges provide specific training in organizational skills and stress management that are usually targeted to students with or without a learning disability. Programs include training in individualized education plan (IEP) and other organizational skills.

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    Enjoying College Life with a Learning Disability

    When you see others studying in a way that you cannot study, do not feel ashamed. During college, there will be at least one other person who may suffer from something just as terrible. Never tell yourself you cannot overcome the challenges and if you fail, it is not the end of the world. Everyone falls behind in their work, it is normal. Don't ever let anyone tell you that having a learning disability will limit your career options. They may have forgotten that Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Mozart had learning disabilities.