Tutoring and College Admissions Planning for Students with Learning or Other Disabilities

One-on-one tutoring can help students with disabilities get into college.

One-on-one tutoring can help students with learning or other disabilities get into college.

Planning for admissions by students with disabilities needs to be completed in two phases:

a)    Choose colleges to apply to by reviewing how they provide support to students with disabilities.

b)   Ensure the paperwork necessary for disability accommodation for students with disabilities is completed and the necessary permissions are obtained.

Typically, colleges accommodate student disabilities as much as possible. Tests such as the SAT and ACT (GED is due for a revision in 2014 when it too will be considered a college preparedness test) accommodate disabilities by extending additional time and allowing special services. Common disabilities include:

a)    a learning disability

b)   attention deficit/ hyperactivity  disorder

c)    visual or hearing impairment or other physical disorders

d)   certain psychological disorders such as mood anxiety disorder or some other persistent illness

College-Related Issues

When considering going to college, students with disabilities and their parents may consider the disabilities a handicap. However, that is not necessarily the case. In their drive for enriching campus life, many colleges look to include people with various challenges, including those with disabilities. Allowances in qualifying grades and scores on college preparedness tests may be made. Thus, it is to your advantage to acknowledge disabilities during the application process rather than hide them. Students can offer this kind of information in the “additional information” section and even discuss the effect of these disabilities on their grades and competitive exam scores.

The support system available at your target institution should be evaluated. It is important that they have a coordinator to look after the needs of students with disabilities. More importantly, you need to consider their retention and graduation rates.

Documentation Needed and Accommodations by the Testing Services

The SAT, ACT and GRE and all such testing services provide accommodations to students whose disabilities are properly documented. The disability must be proven to exist and be documented by authorized personnel. The accommodations take various forms. For example, you can get extra time up to 50% and 100% more than the time given to average test takers. Providing an isolated or less crowded room for an AD/HD challenged student is possible. A reader or a scribe may be permitted depending on the disability. Question papers in regular font size and larger ones are available. In case of a computer-based testing, the display can be adjusted to allow for larger fonts for those who need them. The ADA or the Americans with Disabilities Act provides access to testing centers for wheelchair-bound students.

The testing authorities of SAT or ACT will issue a letter authorizing the accommodation. They ensure for every individual case that the accommodation did not provide any undue advantage to the students with disability compared to regular students. They also make sure accommodations do not alter the tests in any way. Testing under altered conditions must measure the same capabilities the test is supposed to measure for typical candidates.

Preparing for the test is important. Students must follow the actual conditions. For example, students who need a scribe or a reader should work with one during the preparation phase. Tutors at Educational Tutorial Services can help students with disabilities prepare for tests. Learn more about our private test prep tutoring here, and call his to schedule an appointment with a qualified tutor.