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Top 10 Colleges for Students With Learning Disabilities
Have you been diagnosed with learning disabilities or differences and are planning on attending college? Perhaps you already know that there are a number of colleges for learning disabilities who offer specialized programs and services. The challenging part is where to begin when creating a list of possible schools. We did the research by asking specific questions and came up with the following list of schools. We profiled a mix of schools, ranging from small colleges that enroll mainly students with learning disabilities to large universities that offer supportive programs. Let’s get started!
Adelphi University (NY)
Adelphi University has been serving students from across the globe since the 1860’s. They are dedicated to creating a campus that is focused on academic excellence, while also cultivating a community of equality and inclusion, which is reflected in one of many awards and honors they’ve received in recent years.
Adelphi offers a program called the Learning Resource Program specifically for students who have learning differences. Students have access to a variety of resources and special opportunities they can receive credit for. They also offer a summer transition program, which allows students to come for three weeks and take university classes for credit. For students on the autism spectrum, or who have a non-verbal learning disability, Adelphi also offers a more advanced program called Bridges to Adelphi.
Learning Resource Program highlights
- One on one, weekly sessions with a learning specialist
- Summer transition program for students
- Parent support groups
American University (Washington, DC)
American University, located in Washington D.C., is a research institution that focuses on raising up students who can make meaningful change in the world. For AU, this means making sure all students have those opportunities to make a difference.
Their Learning Services Program is for first year students who have a learning disability. These students pay a one-time fee for this program during their freshman year. After they complete this program, students can take advantage of the Academic Support and Access Center to help them with classes and other needs they may have.
Learning Services Program highlights
- Weekly individual meetings with program director or coordinator
- Upper-class student mentor
- Special advising for coursework
Bowling Green State University (OH)
Bowling Green State University is a public institution located in Bowling Green, Ohio that has been around since 1910. They offer over 200 undergraduate programs, as well as graduate and online programs.
In order to support all students, BGSU offers the “Falcon Learning Your Way Program,” also known as the FLY program. The goal of this program is to give students the wings they need to fly! BGSU wants all students to succeed, which means supporting them in every way that they need!
FLY Program highlights
- One on one, weekly meetings with a learning specialist
- Specialized tutoring services
- Options for continuing in the program beyond freshman year
University of Arizona (AZ)
The University of Arizona, located in Tucson, Arizona, offers a variety of undergraduate degree options for students. As a part of their Wildcat family, they are dedicated to helping each student find their purpose and mission. One of the most important ways they do this is through what they call their SALT program.
SALT stands for Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center. This is a fee based program designed to help students navigate higher education. Their website provides a thorough introduction to the program along with a video that walks you through the SALT Center on campus.
SALT Program highlights
- Meetings with learning specialists
- Specialized tutoring
- Assistive technology and training on how to use it
East Carolina University (NC)
ECU’s program is a little different than some of the others we’ve talked about, but it’s likely one of the most comprehensive as well. Instead of simply using these services, students must apply to be accepted into this program and then participate in the program for fall and spring semester. The STEPP program stands for “Supporting Transition and Education through Planning and Partnerships,” and it is not the only option for students though. ECU provides various resources for students with learning disabilities on other areas of campus as well. STEPP is simply their most comprehensive program.
STEPP Program highlights
- Upperclassmen mentor program
- Weeklong summer orientation program
- Individual meetings with specialists
Beacon College (FL)
Beacon College is designed entirely for students with learning disabilities. The school was founded in 1989 by parents who wanted to create an environment that they knew their children could succeed in while also receiving a high quality education.
At Beacon College, you won’t just find a small set of specific services. You’ll find that everything at the school is designed with the idea that every student learns differently. They offer small classes, individualized meetings with specialists, and even a weeklong summer program to help those who may have taken gap years or just want an introduction to college to feel more prepared
Beacon College highlights
- Math and writing centers open Monday through Friday on campus
- Four year career development plan
- Individual and group counseling
Landmark College (VT)
Like Beacon College, Landmark College is also designed entirely for students with learning disabilities. Their curriculum is designed to start with a specific list of classes that prepares students both academically and with the tools they need to manage their coursework on their own.
Landmark College strives to give their students the same experience as they would receive at any other college. They also offer several different summer programs that students can take advantage of to get a taste of what they can expect as a full time student.
Landmark College highlights
- Core advisors that stay with you for the first two years of college
- One-on-one support with educational technology
- Specially tailored study abroad programs
University of the Ozarks (AR)
The University of the Ozarks understands that just because a student learns differently does not mean anything about their intellectual capabilities. They want to provide students with the right tools they need to succeed, which they do so through the Jones Learning Center.
The Jones Learning Center is an on campus support program for students with learning disabilities. They offer two ways for students to use their center. Students can either use the pre-designed track of support or they can work with an individual at the center to design their own program with the correct level of support for them.
Jones Learning Center highlights
- Specialized programs designed around individual students
- Multiple and daily meetings with program coordinators
- Writing specialist available for LD specific students
Northeastern University (MA)
Students at Northeastern University can choose to take advantage of their non-fee based resources or pay a fee and be a part of the learning disabilities program. Northeastern knows that this program is only effective when students are actively engaged in the program, which means they hold students to a high standard. This can be a great source of accountability for students, especially as first year college students.
The learning disabilities program is designed around a model that helps teach students time management and other critical skills they’ll need to succeed in college and beyond. Their program is designed to move students towards independence while simultaneously supporting them throughout the whole process.
Learning Disability Program highlights
- Weekly meetings with specialists
- Note taking services
- Reduced course loads
West Virginia Wesleyan University (WV)
West Virginia Wesleyan University offers a wide variety of majors that range from art and design to health sciences. But no matter what you choose to study, you can count on WVWU to be there to support you along the way. They are committed to providing the most comprehensive disability services for students.
Through the Learning Center, students can receive support from specialists that they will meet with weekly to form an individualized academic plan!
Learning Center Disability Support highlights
- Preferential registration
- In-class notetakers
- Customized tutoring hours from professionals
How to review a college on your own
It’s great to have a list of colleges as a starting point, but the truth is that there are dozens more colleges out there with programs just like the ones talked about above. So, let’s look at how you can assess a college’s services and programs on your own to decide if they might be a good fit. These are the questions that we used when assessing the colleges in this article as well.
Questions to consider when accessing colleges with learning disabilities programs
Let’s start with a few basic questions. You may not be able to answer all of these questions right off the bat. You’ll likely have to do some digging on the college’s website. You should feel comfortable asking a college these questions directly. Try emailing them some of these questions if you are unable to find answers on your own.
Questions To Consider
These three questions are just a starting point. Who is in charge of services for students with learning disabilities, as well as if those services are separate will tell you a lot about how a school prioritizes supporting students with learning disabilities.
Types of assistance
From those questions, let’s look at the various forms of assistance the school you are looking at offers. Below are four areas of assistance that are really pretty standard. A school should offer all, or most of these services in some shape or form.
Assistive technology comes in lots of forms these days. Thanks to the creation of so many new apps, there are so many ways to seamlessly fit this technology into your regular classes. With that being said though, it’s not something you should feel the need to figure out on your own.
Established disability services offer students various technologies to help with things like note-taking and class lectures.
One-on-one meetings with specialists
One-on-one meetings are a huge benefit to look for as an incoming student! If a school offers these meetings, you can generally assume you’ll be in good hands. Usually, students can use these programs during their freshman year, but some extend beyond. The goal is for a specialist to help students through the transition from high school to college and equip them with knowledge about what resources are available to them. These services are typically available for transfer students and students in later years of their schooling as well.
Learning disabilities can mean a lot of things. So, regular campus tutoring services may actually be worth trying out, but that’s not going to be the case for all students. It’s important to have access to tutors who understand how to help students who learn differently. This is not only because these students might need a different approach to tutoring and learning, but also to ensure that they don’t have to compete with the entire campus for limited tutoring resources.
Classroom accommodations can mean a lot of things. Some students need to sit somewhere specific in order to focus best or they may need a sign language interpreter. Some students might need a plethora of other classroom accommodations. While your school probably won’t have a list of every accommodation, you should feel comfortable asking for what you need and getting a response from them that is helpful and accommodating.
Related: Top ADHD scholarships
Frequently asked questions about colleges for students with learning disabilities
Is it easier to get into college with a learning disability?
Can someone with a learning disability succeed in college?
Do students with learning disabilities typically get into college?