Applying to College with Learning Accommodation Needs
Applying to college and want to learn more about learning accommodations at the university level? Get the inside scoop on how to receive the support you need from CollegeAdvisor.com.
Admissions expert Megan Foxworth will share her tips and advice on applying and accessing learning accommodations. During a 60-minute webinar and Q&A session.
In this webinar, you’ll have all your questions answered including:
– How do I apply for learning accommodations at college?
– Where can I share my disability information during the college application process? And, do I have to?
– What type of learning accommodations can I request?
Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-11-28 – Applying to College with Learning Accommodation Needs
Hi everyone. Welcome to tonight’s webinar. My name is Anesha Grant. I’m a Senior Advisor here at CollegeAdvisor, and I will be your moderator today. Tonight’s webinar is Applying to College With Learning Accommodation Needs. Before we get started, I just wanna orient everyone with the webinar timing. Our presenter will share tips, strategies, and resources for the first half of the session, and then we will open up the floor to respond to your questions In a live Q&A on a sidebar, you can download our slides under the handouts tab and you can start submitting questions in the Q&A.
Please only submit your questions through the Q&A tab. Please do not send them to us through private chats. It gets a little distracting during the session. But we are excited to connect with you today. So now let’s meet our presenter, Megan Foxworth. Hi Megan. Hello, so my name is Megan Foxworth. I’m an advisor through CollegeAdvisor, but I also work full time, um, at a college campus and their disability resource office.
I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill, both with my undergraduate degree and my master’s degree, um, in psychology, and then clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling as well. Awesome. We’re excited to hear from you tonight. Before we get started, we wanna do a quick poll. So for those of you here in the audience, please just let us know what grade level you are in.
And Megan, while we’re waiting, do you have any favorite barbecue spots? There is a, a place in North Carolina, so I am partial to North Carolina, South Carolina Barbecue because that is where I’m from. And there’s a place in downtown Raleigh called The Pit and it’s fantastic. All right. I appreciate that.
I, you know, I lived in Texas for a little bit and you know, there’s a fight, but I, I will eat all barbecue. I’m from New York where we don’t have barbecue, so I will eat any barbecue that looks in the gift to me, but I thought I’d ask the pit in Raleigh. I appreciate that. Um, all right, we’ll go ahead and close the poll y’all for letting us know, and I’ll just share with you really quickly, Megan, that about 17% are in the ninth grade.
33% are in 10th. Um, 33% are also in 11th grade and 17% are in the 12th grade. So the majority of folks are in the 10th and 11th grade probably making some decisions as they’re starting to look at colleges, um, or beginning the college process. So thanks y’all for participating in the poll. Um, and I will hand it over to you, Megan.
Okay. So it’s good to know what grade everybody is starting in and is currently situated in, and this is a great time to start looking through and thinking about, um, college campuses and what you need based off of your learning needs. Um, so to get us started, There are certain ways that K through 12 sort of operates around disability.
There are a lot of teacher responsibilities and then students are just excited to attend class complete assignments and begin to learn self-advocacy skills. While teachers are formally trained, um, to teach, they adapt their material to students learning needs. They help students learn and process information.
They remind them of incomplete work. In some cases, some students might also. Modified assignments or individual check-ins with instructors about their work. Um, teachers are structuring your time, providing assistant supporting and updating parents and advocating for the student. This changes very significantly when students transition into college.
Those responsibilities then slip where the responsibility is really put on the student. Um, and instructors are sort of, on the other hand, scholars and their academic discipline, but not necessarily always trained, trained in education and teaching, and especially not always trained in learning differences.
Um, but instructors are responsible for being accessible for helping students during office hours. But the expectation is that students are going to. Students are gonna take notes. Students are gonna synthesize the material in the ways that make sense for them. They’re gonna manage their time independently, they’re gonna communicate.
Their needs and their wants, um, and where they are with instructors, if they need an extension on an assignment or if they’re struggling with something, they’re also gonna attend office hours and keep everyone else informed as well. So their parents, um, any other stakeholders if they have, um, coaches or teacher.
That are working with them on the sidelines, they’re expected to keep all of those people in the loop as well as advocate for themselves. So the K-12 experience and the university experience are sort of swapped in terms of who has the most onus of responsibility. So that’s something to be aware of as you move through high school and transition into a higher education institution.
So what are accommodations? Um, accommodations are modifications that allow students with disabilities to access material and complete work. This can be something like extended test time. It can be testing with a smaller group of people. Sometimes it can be having your test read aloud to you. It can look very different.
Um, and it’s essentially based off of what your specific limitations are and how you. What things you need in order to be able to access that information. So whenever you’re thinking through, I’m a person with a disability, where do I get started when I’m looking for college campuses and what resources are available to me?
The first thing that you do is identify your university disability office. Um, typically this can be done by a quick search. Typically, disability offices have either disability in their name, accessibility, or in their name and somewhere around like services, resources. Um, so if you type in just university name and accessibility or university name and disability, you should be able to find that office that is gonna be able to determine accommodation.
Most universities are gonna require that students self-disclose their disability status to that designated office in order to opt into the accommodation process. Um, so this means that you’re going to self-identify. Typically that means that you’ll complete a form where you say what your disability is, what you struggle to do, and what accommodations you’re requesting.
Um, your IEP and 504 are not automatically transferred since it is solely based off of that self-identification process. And then lastly, you’re going to submit documentation that. Whatever accommodations you’re requesting and whatever document, uh, whatever disability you’ve disclosed. So this can be something like a previous IEP, um, this can be your, a previous psycho educational eval.
This can be a letter from your provider. It can be a number of different things, but what’s typically gonna be important is having information about what your diagnosis is, what you cannot do, and what, um, are the impacts of your disability overall. So most colleges and universities are gonna require this documentation.
Um, this is just sort of going back through those typical documentation, um, pieces, which are your current documentation, your current diagnosis, your current disability limitations. If you have something like migraines, Um, or mental health frequency, severity, and duration are gonna also be very important.
So how often are your migraines happening? How often are your seizures happening? How severe are they? How long do they last? Um, as well as evidence of past accommodations is. Really helpful. Um, there are laws that have been passed that says that a history of an accommodation, so a 504 or an IEP is enough to get a student started at universities, but universities can still request additional information outside of your IEP or 504 if it doesn’t have like that diagnosis or more information about limitations.
So that’s something to be aware of as well.
Accommodations are sort of looked at differently or viewed differently by the law for K through 12 and for higher education. So for K through 12, it’s all operating under the individuals with Disability Education Act, where the goal is that a student plus services equals success versus higher education is operating.
The Americans with Disabilities Act and their amendments, where the goal is the student plus accommodation equals access. So the difference between that really is, is that for K through 12, the goal is for you to succeed, to do well, to to meet. Those goals and standards for your classes above and beyond.
Whereas in higher education, the goal is just that you are able to perform on a level playing field as your peers. So success is not guaranteed. Once you get to college, accommodations are meant to allow you access to. Show and demonstrate your knowledge in mastery. Um, and so that changes a lot about what types of accommodations are available and what things are maybe considered like fundamental alterations or things that would change the nature of the course overall.
So, Higher education institutions provide academic accommodations and reasonable accommodations. These are things that are during, that are deemed required in order for you to be able to access information. Um, however, they do not provide academic modifications or fundamental alterations, so changes in what a student is expected to.
Um, so things that would be considered like a fundamental alteration would be like unlimited time or modified or reduced assignments. Some things might require that students are able to work within a limited timeframe, and maybe you have ADHD or a learning disability where it takes you a little bit longer.
The process. The appropriate accommodation would be extended time, but unlimited time would then sort of, The the goal of what that assignment is, which is to see how students work under a time restraint. So that’s just something to also be aware of, that there are limitations and what accommodations are available in higher education institutions.
Okay. So some examples of limitations and accommodations include extended test time, which might be appropriate for someone who has difficulty with concentration, a slower reading rate, um, maybe some difficulty with reading comprehension, audio format. So being able to have your, um, printed materials sort of read aloud to you either through assistive technology.
Um, or through an audio book that is something that may be appropriate for students who have low vision or poor visual acuity or deficit in reading comprehension. Separate or reduced distraction testing space might be appropriate for someone who has limitations and like being easily distracted by external or internal stimuli has anxiety in large places.
Or maybe you have something like DIA type one diabetes where. The spikes and dips in your blood sugar affect your processing speed overall, and you need to be able to step out and be in a smaller space and to access your medications or things like that. Um, something like a scribe would be appropriate for someone who has a legible handwriting or poor hand dexterity.
Um, and permission to audio record would be appropriate for someone who has difficult difficulty concentrating in class or who experiences like panic or maybe has something like irritable bowel syndrome, where they need to be able to step out and are gonna be missing chunks of lecture because of how they may be incapacitated.
So, Accommodations can cover a wide range of different limitations and different disability impacts. Um, and some things are gonna be very unique to some limitations, and then some things are just gonna be more universal, um, where a lot of different disabilities could be helped with this accommodation.
So, self-advocacy, we sort of talked about this a little bit before. Where self-advocacy is going to be something that becomes a much bigger component of your experience whenever you go into a higher education, um, institution. And so self-advocacy is learning how to speak up for yourself, making your own decisions about your own life, learning how to get information so you can understand things that are of interest to you.
Finding out who will support you in your journey, knowing your rights and responsibilities. Problem solving, listening and learning, reaching out to others when you need help and friendship and learning about self-determination. This means being able to, to talk to your instructors when you’re not getting material, or if there is a case where you have an accommodation, but maybe it’s not being utilized, or maybe you’re in an environment where there maybe is some pushback about your accommodations.
Being able to follow up with your instructor or being able to follow up with a disability office on your campus to say, this need is not being met and I need it to be met. Um, it’s about being able to locate resources and to some extent it’s also about being able to manage those. Your disability and those things that are more personal to you, um, on your own and establish that sense of independence on your college campuses.
So much about navigating higher education institutions is about learning the things that you need. Asserting yourself and growing and self-advocacy is a skill that we all could benefit from having more of, but it’s gonna be especially important as someone who has a disability or who, who identifies as being neuro atypical.
So there are other types of accommodations, and this is gonna look very different at each institution that it sort of exists. Um, but there are housing accommodations as well as dining accommodations. So let’s say that you’re a student who. Has depression or anxiety or maybe post-traumatic stress disorder and sharing a room is something that’s difficult for you.
It affects your ability to sleep, it affects your ability to sort of participate academically. It affects your ability to participate socially. Something like a single room accommodation might make a lot of sense. Or if you are a person who. Some mobility limitations. Having an accessible shower, um, either one that has a seat or a grab bar based off of what those limitations are, is gonna be just as important for you to establish as having some academic accommodations in place.
Housing accommodations are gonna be especially important for colleges and institutions that have freshmen live on requirement, where everyone who is in that freshman class is required to live on campus for that first year. There are some institutions that have. Junior and sophomore live on requirements as well.
And so housing accommodations might be something that’s important to sort of explore. Um, if you are a person who has needs across the table in different areas, someone who has like irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s, might benefit from having a semi-private bathroom or private bathroom if they find themselves staying in the bathroom for very long periods of time.
Um, or having high urgency and frequency of being, of needing to go. And then if you’re a person who maybe has a lot of allergens and aren’t able to access dining at your institution, having a proximity to kitchen might be something that is also really helpful for you. These are just a few housing accommodations that exist, um, that can really benefit students in the long run and might be something that you wanna explore if there are some other things going on other than like, Um, we also find that a lot of students who have autism spectrum disorder, um, are somewhere on the spectrum, can sometimes benefit from having a single room if they find that they need a place where they are not social or where they need to stem on their own.
So that’s also something to consider for, um, ASD as well. Uh, dining accommodations can include meal plan exemptions or reductions. Um, so what we find is frequently students who have a lot of allergens, sometimes sort of operating in the campus dining environment, where a lot of the dining halls are gonna be both face style is really difficult for those students.
Um, this can dining accommodations can be determined. Prior to a student coming into the campus environment or once the student has already sort of been in dining and tried it out, um, and have found that it maybe does or does not work for them based off of what their dietary restrictions are. Um, so dining accommodations are not necessarily best for students who maybe you’re a vegetarian or vegan by.
Um, dining accommodations are gonna be more geared towards students who cannot partake in the dining environment because of allergens that could possibly lead to like anaphylaxis, um, or potential danger or harm for that student.
So the Disability resource office at your prospective campus is only gonna be one piece to your puzzle. Um, the Disability Resource Office is gonna be able to assess those accommodation requests that you have and put those accommodations in place. Um, but the disability resource office is not gonna be where you go for tutoring.
Typically. It’s not gonna be where you sort of have someone go and communicate with your instructors for you. It’s not gonna be your healthcare provider. There are typically other offices on campus that are gonna be built and put in place to accommodate those needs. So most universities are gonna have some form or learning or tutoring centers.
They’re gonna have, your professors are gonna have office hours, your universities are gonna have campus health, where typically individual therapy is available. Some group therapy sessions are available, and they’re also gonna have access to a pharmacy. If you need to do medication management. This is gonna look different on each campus in terms.
Size and what services are offered. Um, but typically what I recommend for students who do have learning needs or any other disability related needs is figuring out what resources exist, where, and how to access those resources. I’ve worked at a couple of different universities and some will have a learning center that’s staffed by professionals who work with students who have learning differences.
Um, students with ADHD, learning disabilities, autism to work on those sort of learning strategies. Some are gonna have individual writing centers that are separate from those tutoring centers. Some are gonna have specific mouth. And physics help. Um, so it’s always gonna be important to sort of assess what’s there.
And this is also gonna be important when you’re trying to decide which school is for you. Does the school have the resources available outside of just their disability office that is gonna allow me to be successful? Because once again, going back to that ADA 504, the accommodation plus the student is what is supposed to guarantee access.
But the accommodation plus the student, plus all of the other campus resources can be the things that work together to make a student successful. So that’s gonna be something that I hope everyone moves forward with. And you don’t, if you don’t take anything from this, you. Let me figure out what all is on this campus and what resources are available in order to figure out if this is the best fit for me.
Um, some campuses are also gonna have assistive technology that’s available depending on the size of the university. A lot of universities will have shareware or software downloads that they bought at the university level that all students who have an email. Or you know, whatever the encryption is for your university can sort of use to download.
This can be things like read and write, which you can download on your computer to help you read PDFs and webpage webpages. It can be a number of different things that are gonna be helpful just in accessing information. This can also be considered like how accessible audio books are in people’s student stores and all of those types of things.
So that might also be something to sort of look around for when you’re checking out colleges and trying to figure out what’s the right fit. And then for students who maybe have disabilities that sort of affect their ability to sort of traverse campus, or maybe you have something like POTS or Eller Danlos where you have a lot of fatigue that affect your ability to get around.
Understanding what local or campus transit systems exist is also gonna be really important. Some universities are gonna be spread out where there are a lot of spaces in between the buildings that students need to get to. Some campuses are going to be very intimate and things are gonna be within a half mile of each other.
Um, my home institution currently is very sped out. There’s three different campuses and it can take. 30 to 40 minutes to walk from one side to the other. So one thing that we have is a service called Wolf Pack Pickup, which can get you through those pathways that the bus system is not gonna be able to get you through easily.
And so for STEM students, that’s a really big draw, especially if they have fatigue, especially if they have mobility, to know that they have that sort of go cart service that can get them from point A to point B.
So I’m at the sort of questions part of things. I realize I got through that quickly. Mm-hmm. , but hopefully that will just give us more time to talk about what questions or concerns you might have. Thanks so much, Megan. Um, that was really helpful for me and, um, insightful for me as well. I think I mentioned before that I, I’ve had a lot of students ask this question, so I appreciate you taking the time.
Um, that is the end of the presentation, part of the webinar. I hope that you found the information helpful. And just as a reminder, you can download the slides via to link on the handout. Handouts tab. We’re gonna move on to the live Q&A. The way that it will work is that you can submit questions in the public Q&A chat box.
I will read through the questions that you’ve submitted, and then I’ll paste them into the public chat so that others can see them and read them aloud so that Megan can provide an answer. If you are not being allowed to submit questions, just know that you might have to log back out and log back in via the link in your email.
Otherwise, let’s get started with some questions. Excuse me, um,
let’s see. I guess this is a question. Um, if students are choosing to disclose and ha and um, are requesting accommodations, are they benefited from applying early or does the decision of the point of which they apply, not matter? So the point at which they apply doesn’t necessarily matter. . Um, some universities will review and evaluate students documentation when they’re prospective students, and some universities will not look at a student’s documentation until after they’ve been admitted and after they’ve decided that they are going to go.
Um, and so some people have. A relief whenever they go to universities and they’re willing to look at documentation on the spot. Um, but frequently it’s also a relief to know that you don’t have to disclose that you’re a person with learning differences or a disability and that that’s something that you can sort of keep to yourself until you decide you wanna self-identify.
Um, this is a question that came. Around requesting accommodations, do you have to have it be documented or have a documented disability in order for you to request accommodations before you get to college? If you know your high school, your district did not allow you to get an IEP or a 504, so having a history of accommodations is not required in order to access accommodations at the university level.
Most universities will sort of recognize that the rigor of college classes can sometimes exacerbate, um, symptoms that were sub-clinical or could be compensated for at the K through 12 level. Um, what is typically important is that there is some form of diagnosis so that the university can determine that you are a person with a disability, but having a longstanding history of being a person with a disability.
Doesn’t necessarily impact that at all. Um, there, this is going to depend on though, on each of the individual institutions, there are some universities that can sort of connect students with provisional accommodations based off of their functional limitations. So what they cannot do, um, and sort of get them started with.
Even if they don’t have a diagnosis. So what I recommend is sort of following up with your institution’s office, letting them know how you’re impacted and if you don’t have documentation, um, and then seeing where things go from there. How many do a lot of outreach to the colleges and figure out what’s possible?
What do they offer? Um, yeah, unfortunately will take a lot more legwork for folks in this circumstance. Um, some, some a student asked, um, in reference to admissions, but they also mentioned coaches. So I’m wondering if you have any thoughts about if folks are choosing to disclose, do they need to or if they’re value for them to disclose to their coaches if they’re in a recruiting process specifically, uh, you know, a recruitment process for a sport.
So I think it really is gonna depend on how comfortable. Each person feels with that coach. Um, I don’t think it’s necessary to disclose to your coaches, um, or to admissions coaches specifically, um, about your learning difference, unless it’s something that you want to talk about specifically in your applications if you’re working with an admissions coach or if it’s one of those things where.
Um, athletic coaches are asking about it. There are frequently people within athletic departments, especially in the larger programs that are handling athletes with disabilities. Um, Because there are sometimes separate services or additional resources available to students who are student athletes that are not available to general population students.
Um, so I think this is another one of those things where it really is gonna depend on how comfortable you are and if it’s something you want to share, but it is not necessary to share. Yeah, I appreciate you bringing that up regarding student athletes and additional support resources that they sometimes get.
So I think for athletes who are out there and you’re debating or you’re being recruited by a lot of different schools and you know that you might require accommodations, it might benefit you to think about what are the resources available? What are the ways that those, those schools are supporting athletes in particular, because they usually are getting a few more resources, um, to support them given the schedule and, and the intensity of what they have to.
Um, and can I add one more thing to that? Absolutely, absolutely. At our university, um, is a large, very large state school. Um, at our university they do have like almost like a case manager within the athletic department for specific athletes to make it a little bit easier if that athlete does require services for them to get to the services.
So there’s someone almost to help with that self-advocacy speak piece that doesn’t exist for students who are general. So what I’ve seen for athletics is that once you know that that place is where you wanna go, it’s probably a good idea to have a conversation. Um, and it’s probably beneficial to share because there are gonna be so many ways that they are gonna have people in place.
To make your life easier. And then one thing I wanted to add on that was in the previous question though, is if someone is choosing to disclose, is there a right time in the admissions process or is there a better time, um, when they should disclose or should they just, if they want to, it should just take it up with the school when they enroll?
So timing is interesting. I don’t necessarily think that there. Right time. Um, so I think in general, unless you require accommodations for the admissions process, so you can’t access the application, maybe you’re someone who is low vision or blind and. for some reason. Maybe you’re not operating with jaws or something like that.
You need a separate type of application. Um, maybe you need a braille application, something like that. Then disclose, you have to disclose upfront in order to get access to those accommodations to apply. But is as someone who has learning differences, whether that’s ADHD or a learning disability, um, in math, reading or writing, they’re, most universities are not even gonna require that.
Self-disclose or self-identify unless you want to connect with services. Um, so I would say if you, once you get accepted, would be the right time to start self disclosing so that you can shop around and see what universities are gonna be the right fit for you. Are mental health disclosures treated the same as disability disclosures or are those seen as, I guess different types of dis.
So mental health, so a disability. The definition that’s used under the ADA is any physical or mental impairment, um, that limits your ability to participate in one or more ledger labor. One or more, sorry. Major life activity. My words have been all messy tonight, but I hope y’all have been able to power through my messy words.
I apologize. So under that definition, something a physical or mental impairment that attacks one or more major life activities, mental health can constitute as a disability and should be viewed under the same lens as any other disability. Um, typically the accommodations are gonna look a little bit different, so, What we find a lot, especially for students who have severe depression, um, or maybe you have bipolar or something along those lines, is what typically is needed is additional flexibility, maybe with deadlines or absences.
Um, and so it’s gonna be important to sort of start engaging in those conversations as soon as you believe that you need services, um, because some of those decisions can take a little bit longer for people to get to. And so I always recommend. Having your ducks in a row in terms of like, are you currently in treatment?
If you are in treatment, can your current therapist or can your current psychiatrist write a note that gives what your diagnosis are and what you can’t do and how that’s gonna impact your learning. Um, going ahead and having that information lined up so that when it’s time for you to ask for the things that you need, you don’t have to wait on an appointment with your psychiatrist or wait on an appointment with your therapist in order to get that documentation.
Um, do you have, I guess, tips or thoughts on how students can or should write about it? Are there things they should be sure to include if they’re choosing to write about it, let’s say in a personal statement or a supplemental essay? Um, yeah. How can they present and share their disability well, within the application?
So, so I’m gonna say this very vaguely as someone who maybe who hasn’t worked in the admissions piece. I think that it’s always important to talk about what things about your disability have been impactful to you. Like how was your disability, sort of how has it affected your growth? What things have you learned by having to navigate a world as a person with a disability?
Um, and look at it from that lens In graduate school, in graduate programs, and I know that for a lot of you, graduate programs are very, very far away. They do typically advise that students who are maybe applying to be in like mental health programs refrain from talking about their own mental health journeys and those applications just because.
Those applic, those essays are bountiful. They are frequently what’s in that um, mode. But when you’re applying to undergraduate programs, people are not frequently thinking about disability in that same way, and those disability stories are gonna be more unique. Um, so I would frame them in the same way that you would frame anything that sort of required you work and grow and develop and was maybe challenging, um, through that growth lens.
How has this been impactful? What have I been able to learn? I love that answer cuz I think it fits to all the things you usually tell students about pH strategic about the essays, which is that you should. Something personal, reflect on yourself and talk about how you’ve learned and grown from those experiences.
And I think it also in my mind, destigmatizes this as like, it’s not, it’s the same challenge that other folks or same kind of challenge that other folks have faced. And it’s just asking you to be reflective of how it’s impacted you. So I really appreciate that answer. Um, In the registration, we got a lot of questions from parents who provided very detailed setups for their, their students.
But I’m wondering if you could share, you know, your thoughts on what role can or should parents play in advocating for their student. I know you talked a lot about self-advocacy. Is there room for parents to, to interact and, and, you know, advocate in this process? So there is a lot of room for parents to advocate, um, generally in terms of.
Submitting that self-identification form, that’s gonna be something that the student needs to do. The student needs to initiate. But whether or not mom or dad or Guardian is sitting with you beside you, helping you sort of talk through it and write it down, that’s always gonna be something that’s available to students.
Um, and my office especially will have parents sort of call in and ask about the process. So if it is. I’m having a hard time finding the office. I’m having a hard time, um, sort of figuring out where to go or what to do. Sometimes having a parent sort of go through and do that leg work with you, um, or maybe do it for you so that they can direct you in the right direction, it’s gonna be really helpful.
Um, and I am currently working with a parent now. Who has a student who’s experiencing some pretty serious mental health who’s like, I need this for, my student has what, where are we at? What needs to be done? So most, um, disability or accessibility offices, personnel are gonna be very willing to work with and talk to parents.
Um, but in terms of like actually saying, oh, I need this and initiating the process, we’re gonna need student. But parents can be very important in getting that person to the point where they can fill out the forms or even submitting documentation so that it can be attached to their students. Um, I, I think you spoke to this and you, I know you talked a little bit about the law that exists within supporting students in this way, but, um, apparent asks like, do I need to be wary of discrimination in this process if I choose to disclose what are, are there, if any, safeguards as folks are reading to ensure that I’m not discriminated against in, in this process?
So disability is a protected. In the same way that religious group race, all of those things are protected class, uh, universities are not supposed to, it is not legal for universities to discriminate against a person based off of their disability status. Um, so it is legally protected and hopefully that does.
Um, enough to at least ease people’s anxieties about disclosing their disability status when applying. Um, and if it is that something happens where you feel like the decision is, was like a negative decision was based solely or primarily on disability status, you are able to sort of pursue legal action based off of that.
that’s typically not the case. That’s typically not happening since disability is a protected class. Um, and it is a protected class. Once you sort of get in your program, maybe you go ahead and self-identify. You’re going through classes. If you have an instructor at any point in your process who’s like, yeah, no, I’m not doing it.
I don’t understand why this person needs this, which will happen. Disability is a protected class. You are able to follow up with your local office, and if you find that you are a person with a disability and maybe your disability office is not providing you access, To the resources that you need. There should also always be a process to make a formal complaint or to get your, um, request reviewed by a, a higher up person.
Um, there are always grievances processes. It is a protected class at any level, whether that is before you get into that university or once you get into that university. Thank you. I may get on my soapbox here, but a lot of things about the college application process are transactional. You are paying for something.
Mm-hmm. , you’re submitting your application. You are paying for the right to be read without discrimination. Once you enter your institution, you’re paying for the right to access whatever resources you need. Um, so I appreciate you sharing that. There will be, and I’ve, I’ve had those professors that will say no.
And it’s like, no, I, I, I have the right to request this support and make sure. Getting the most outta my education. Um, so I appreciate that. We’re going to just transition real quick to a quick PSA for those in the room who are seeking support in taking your college essays. So we’re talking about writing before.
So for some of the 11th or 12th graders in the Space CollegeAdvisor has launched expert essay editing packages. So if you don’t necessarily want a whole. Um, advising package, but you’d like to just get some feedback on your essays. You can engage directly with our essay review team for two rounds of revisions.
Uh, we provide 72 hour essay reviews to help strengthen your writing package. Options include supplemental essay editing, the common app essay plus supplementals and the University of California PIQ essays for any post. Considering those schools and applying this year, just know that the deadline. On Wednesday.
Um, so take the next step to improve your college essays by signing up for an essay editing package using the QR code on the screen as part of Black Friday. Now until November 30th, families can get 30% off any. Package. Also one more quick PSA. If you are not currently working with CollegeAdvisor and would like some support in addressing a lot of these questions, working with a great advisor like Megan or myself, uh, we know the process can be overwhelming, and our team of over 300 admissions officers and experts are ready to help you and your family navigate the process.
You can use this QR code to sign up for a free 45 to 60 minute strategy session. During that conversation, we’ll review your extracurriculars, your application strategy, discuss your college list and outline tools that you’ll need to stand out in the admissions process. All right, thanks for that. Thanks for indulge being that break.
We’ll get back to the questions, um, and keep the QR code for that free session up on the screen. Um, I lost my question now. Oh, yes. Um, do you have thoughts on what Stu are there? I guess are there schools that are best for students or better for students who might have learning differences? I know that that might be like a very long list, but are there characteristics, um, that folks should be looking for as they’re kind of doing college research to think about schools that might be better for a child or a student with learning differences?
The answer to that is yes. And so I know I said in my slides earlier that the other resources that are available are on campus, is gonna be important to sort of think about whenever you are applying to schools, um, and determining which school is the right one for you. Um, but also most disability offices operate on a spectrum where they’re either compliance, where they’re doing.
Access at its base level or social justice or somewhere in between where social justice is sort of like, how can I, hold on, let me find my words. So compliance is gonna be like, this is the floor. This is what you need in order to be able to access information where social justice is gonna be more oriented toward.
Service, um, and maybe be more willing to do a little bit more than compliance at its face level. Um, so talking to your individual resource offices, whether it is accessibility or disability, about how they’re typically evaluating people, what model do they use is gonna be important. Um, thinking through those other organizations that exist, uh, are, is everything disability housed in one place or is it spread out across campus?
At the current institution that I serve in, we are one part of EV of the disability journey. So if a student needs disability parking or access to Wolf Pack pickup, those things are going to be in those individual offices, and it’s gonna be something that we can refer students to, but we don’t have a direct hand in.
Whereas at some university. Parking accommodations, dining accommodations, housing accommodations, all of those things are gonna be in one place. A select group of people are making all those decisions. So it’s also gonna be important to sort of figure out what does this look like? Am I the type of person who needs everything to be a one stop shop?
Am I gonna lose track of it if it’s in too many places, or do I like that? There’s multiple things for me to sort of look at and do, and I can opt into the services that I want and opt out of the services that. It’s gonna be really dependent on what things make sense for you and your limitations and your needs.
Um, and that’s gonna be different for every student. So I can’t say this one program or this one type of thing is gonna work best because for some students who are like, I have ADHD. I’ve had accommodation since second grade. I have this documentation. I don’t want you to upsell me in anything. I only need extra time.
That’s it. Compliance is great cuz they don’t want anybody knocking down their door and they don’t, they want that autonomy to participate and to share how they want, but they’re gonna be some, some of the more social justice model schools might opt to send your accommodations for you where you’re not.
To opt out of which instructors you want to know what. Um, so it’s gonna be really important to ask yourself those questions, like, what things are important to me? What things do I want? What things do I need? Um, and then figure out which school sort of matches your view of your disability. Wants and needs, sorry, a lot of words to say.
No, you’re doing great. You’re doing great. Um, I think it made me, that made me think about working on a college list with students in the same way that you have to have a conversation about, do you wanna be far away from home? Do you want a small class, do you want big classes, do you want sports culture?
It seems like that’s just another. Layer of the college search process that you have to ask. And I think I appreciate you saying like, you have to be specific. I think that has been the hardest part. Sometimes the building list of students be like, be specific about what you want. And it’s hard to kind of envision what that will be.
Um, and, but yeah, I like the idea of like integrating it into the college research process in the same way that you would if you, you know, think about geography or size, um, or you, I would also say go visit. Mm-hmm, um, in the same way that you have to get a feel for culture. I’m sorry for cutting you off, but I was gonna No, you’re good, you’re good.
Um, but go visit cause in the same way where you are like, I don’t know what the culture of something is until you go, you also don’t really know how accessible a place is until you go. So if you’re a person with mobility needs, or maybe you’re a person with chronic fatigue or chronic pain and you are like, oh, I love such and such school, and then you go and it’s nothing but.
and you can’t traverse campus, then that’s maybe not the best place for you to be. Um, and I would also say show up to their disability offices. See what the personnel is like. See, you know, how you’re greeted, what that looks like if they are, if someone is available to talk to you, cuz that will give you a good understanding.
Volume, how many students are being serviced? How long is it gonna take me to get in? That type of thing. Um, and that will also give you a really good idea of whether or not that place is a good fit for you. Now, I already can think of some colleges that would get knocked out based on the hill comment, comment of like, um, uh, yeah, especially for folks with a, a physical dis disability or difference.
Um, I, I wanted to ask how. Disability support or specifically around learning differences? Look, is it different when folks are in the career research process? We kind of were talking about it in the academic, but when students are trying to leverage other resources outside of the classroom, are the same expectations, accommodations available or provided for students?
So if you’re needing to access accommodations for like a job opportunity, an internship, opportunity. Um, it’s gonna look really different at each job cuz sometimes it’s gonna be in-house. So let’s say you work in finance and you’re like, I wanna, I wanna get an internship at Fidelity. Fidelity has its own internal.
This workplace accommodation process where there are people that you can meet with, who you can tell what your needs are, and they’re gonna work with you to determine some appropriate accommodations. There are gonna be some places that maybe don’t have that access, and the ways to get that sort of accommodations put in place is to work with the state or federal agency like vocational Rehabilitation.
So it’s gonna be important to sort of know where you’re aiming and what your needs are. Um, universities, typically, if you’re working at a university, your accommodations are gonna be handled in house through that university. Sometimes it’s through the same office that will handle your academic accommodations.
Sometimes it’s through a completely separate office, depends on the size, um, and the sort of model that that university has. So it’s gonna be another one of those questions where it really depends on the organization that you’re looking into and that you wanna work for, and how many resources that person has or how important they’ve made disability, um, and access to their overall employee.
Is that, did that answer your question? Yeah, I think I was, I was imprecise. Um, I, I guess I was talking about when students are transitioning into like, meeting with career services, like if you’re, you know, you’re used to getting certain types of accommodation in the classroom, but maybe you need that same accommodation when you’re trying to work with somebody to write your resume or to.
you know, write up a cover letter. And I know that’s usually a service that happens, you know, in career services, which may not be connected with the learning accommodation. So that’s where I was coming from. Apologies for here. I’m sorry. Um, so yes. Those accommodations should still be available. Um, the one thing that I can think about specifically is like if you are hard of hearing or deaf and you need a sign language interpreter, a sign language interpreter should be available for you to have and request for any university offered resource or event.
So this will include things like also we of welcome events as well, where if you need a sign language interpreter and you request. The university should provide that to you. Um, so this will go for if you’re meeting with someone in the career services or if you need a tutor through the department. Um, if you need to have a separate meeting and office hours with your instructor, if you need specific accommodations and it’s required for access, you should be able to have it regardless of what that setting is.
And I think it’s the request. Sorry. No, go ahead. Go. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Um, the request process looks a little different because typically it has to be coordinated through that disability office. Um, and, but so typically it would be like you need to send an email because you can’t disclose in the same way that you would to your instructors.
Thank you. Um, thank you for clarifying. Uh, thank you for readdressing the question, and apologies again for not being clear and, and that I cut you off. Um, I wanted to, I wanted to ask about, um, oh no, I keep losing my questions. I wanted to ask about the, I don’t. Radio silence. Not supposed to have that air. Oh, are there, um, specific schools?
Or, I’m sorry. I feel like we’ve been talking from a deficit based perspective of like all the challenges that sometimes come with, um, with, you know, having a learning accommodation. I’m just wondering if you could speak to, if you think that there are any opportunities or any kind of benefits or upsides that, that happen when students are able to successfully advocate for themselves, um, in this process, or how colleges might be more effectively supporting students who are, uh, facing some of these learning differences.
I absolutely agree that there are, like, it’s easy to think about it from the deficits, but I do think that there are a lot of benefits to self-disclosing, to being connected with services. Um, and I think that there has been a movement at for universities to sort of adopt universal design principles, which is essentially the mind state that if you.
Or meet the needs of those who have the most needs. It improves the quality of education and learning in life for all people across the board. Um, so this was something that was initially sort of found through. Um, like workplace models where whenever they opened up structures in order to make things more accessible for people with limited mobility, it was better for all people who had different mo uh, mobility needs.
Um, or as people sort of tr. Kept and stayed in the space for longer. Um, and so there’s lots of ways that our universities are trying to think strategically about resources to put on campuses, um, organizations that have, that are gonna make things accessible for all people. And there’s ways that having.
Dis people with disabilities on campus enriches that environment from top to bottom. Um, and without people who are willing to self-disclose and who are willing to share what their experiences are, that wouldn’t really be possible. So there’s also ways that like strategies have been really helpful, that are really helpful for people with disabilities are just really helpful overall.
And so instructors are constantly being able to engage in those conversations, are then able to alter their materials, alter their formats, and provide a better learning environment. Um, so I think that that diversity and disability, is something that can not just empower that person, but also empower their communities to think about things differently, to navigate things differently, um, and to be better.
I love that approach that, and I think that is, yeah, very activist minded. I, I’ve heard a similar sentiment when talking about like, what is feminism? How do we define feminism? Where do you start is by serving the most vulnerable of your group? And, and then that benefits everybody. So thanks for sharing that.
Um, I have a, a kind of specific question, but I think we’re dwindling on, on time so we can get into maybe personal specifics, but, um, What should someone do if they disclose during an interview that they have, um, a learning difference or, or some kind of disability, but they did not talk about it on their application, knowing that it might get, you know, forwarded, I guess, um, when the, the interviewer submits their comments, is there a way to follow up or is there a need to follow up?
Is it okay to disclose only a limited context without giving additional information? What should a person do if they only disclose in an interview and nowhere else on the application? I think that if you choose to disclose in the interview but not anywhere else in the application, then it’s fine. Like that limited disclosure shouldn’t affect your ability to move through that process because if you didn’t disclose any application, it typically means that you probably didn’t need any accommodations to access it.
You were able to answer all the questions and meet all the needs, and ultimately, Um, show up and excel in the same way that your peers would be able to without accommodations. So if you don’t disclose, I don’t during the application itself. I don’t think it should reflect negatively on your overall application or interview.
Um, there’s also ways that disclosing during the interview process, um, maybe you’re talking specifically about an antidote. Maybe the question is, describe a challenge that you’ve faced and how that affected you. Where then it makes sense for you to disclose because you’re talking about something that’s personal to you and maybe your disability is the thing that feels.
Um, most appropriate to talk about in that way, that interviewer should be able to have the wherewithal to understand that you’re disclosing in a way because it fits whatever it is that you need to talk about in that moment, versus it affect the way in which you need it to, to access the information or to access the process so they can be looked at as two separate things, um, and should not affect one.
Well, we are coming to the end of our time together. Um, and I wanted to give an opportunity, if there are any, I guess, summative thoughts that you would wanna share. Top three things that you want people to keep in mind, um, going out of today’s conversation. Yes. So. Top three things I would say is that disability at K-12 and disability at the university setting look different, and that’s okay.
The university setting is gonna require a little bit more responsibility and self initiation than K-12, but in a lot of ways, that also allows you the chance. Share what you wanna share. Um, get access to the services that you feel like are most necessary and navigate the environment in a way that makes most sense for you.
Um, there are going to be some universities that are compliance and some universities that are more social justice. Designed and what is always gonna make the most sense is figuring out what things are important to you. What accommodations do you need in order to be able to access the environment, and where do you feel like you would be most comfortable?
And this is gonna depend on what the style of the disability office is, but also what other resources they have on campus and what other resource maybe do you need to access in your own personal life. If you need a personal care attendant, um, if you need to have access to your therapist or your provider in an area, maybe you’re someone who has like seizures or allergies, where you need to be going to the allergen every two.
Or maybe you have IBD and you need infusions. It’s also gonna be important to think about what treatment is in the area and how can I get access to those things as well. So it’s a whole picture. In the same way that you’re looking at match and fit from academics and housing and size and culture, you’re gonna be thinking about those same things.
for your disability needs, especially as it relates to proximity, um, and nav. Like how easy it is for you to navigate that institution. And then the last thing is, when in doubt, ask for help. And if you ask the wrong person for help, they’ll tell you who the right person is to ask for help. Um, and parents, please be reminded that you can participate in this process and most of the time, professionals in those offices are gonna let you know when they need your student to also participate.
All right. All right. Well, we will go ahead and leave it there. Thank you so much, Megan. I hope you all will, uh, join me in thanking Megan for joining us today and sharing some great, uh, information and resources. Uh, thank you all for joining us. That is the end of the webinar. We hope you gain some helpful strategies for navigating your college process as someone who requires learning accommodations.
Also, we do hope you’ll join us for our other webinars that’ll kick off in December. We will start with advice from admissions officers on what they wanna see in the application process. On the fourth, we will help attendees develop their passions, their personal brand. On December 6th. On December 14th, we will provide an overview of Navigating the ACT and the SAT and our session on seven 15th.
We’ll focus on crushing your college interviews. So a few things we talked about today. If you want some follow up, we hope to see you soon. But until next time, have a. Evening and take care of everyone.