Special Education Students Who Have College Aspirations – 10 Success Tips

It has been well-documented that students with learning disabilities, although attending college in record numbers, are not succeeding at the same rate as their non-disabled peers. It is estimated that only 12-16% successfully graduate. High school students with learning disabilities can stack the odds in their favor with the ten tips below:1. Take both English and math in your senior year. Even if you have enough credits to meet college requirements, do not skip these classes. “If you do not use it, you lose it” definitely applies. Freshman year of college will be much more challenging if your basic skills are rusty.2. Take courses that put you on the “college track”. It is understandable that students who are applying to college want to raise their GPA with easy courses senior year, but colleges know that trick and are not impressed. They like to see transcripts with the most challenging courses a students can reasonably handle.3. Make sure your disability documentation is current. Most colleges require documentation that is no older than three years from the time the student starts college. An IEP, or updated testing, does not substitute for a complete psychoeducational evaluation. Specifically ask the colleges that interest you about the documentation they require. Students (and their parents) should know the accommodations the teen needs to succeed and should make sure they are included in the list of recommendations at the conclusion of the psychoeducational report.4. Be able to articulate your strengths and weaknesses. When you meet with a disability services director, you are expected to be able to explain how your disability affects your performance. Mention any compensatory strategies that you use. You also need to know the areas in which you are strong.5. Know your learning style. Familiarity with your learning style is important for two reasons: it determines the most efficient study methods for you, and it dictates which professors you should./should not take.6. Take the SAT and the ACT. More colleges are accepting the ACT than ever before. The SAT and the ACT measure different skills, and usually a student does better on one test than the other. The ACT is more of a “what did you learn in high school” kind of test, while the SAT tends to be more abstract. Take both tests and submit the higher score… provided the ACT is accepted. Check first!7. Look at colleges that do not require the SAT or ACT. Smaller schools are more likely to care about the composite picture than a score on a one-day exam. More colleges are opting to eliminate the SAT/ACT tests as part of their admission requirements. If you test poorly, you may have a better shot at one of these schools. See FAIR TEST for colleges that do not request SAT or ACT scores.8. Practice self-advocacy. Throughout high school, your parents interceded when it came to your school needs. Colleges consider you an adult, and as such, it it no longer appropriate for your parents to take care of school matters for you. You are expected to know what you need to succeed and where/how to obtain it. College instructors generally will not approach confused students; the student needs to take the initiative. Practice assertiveness in high school, so you are comfortable getting your needs met when college rolls around.9. Start to take notes on your textbook reading. Students who do not mark their textbooks or take notes on a separate page while they read are reading passively. Their eyes may be going over the words, but their minds may be a million miles away. Taking notes as you read is the best way to keep your mind alert and active. Think about this: can you take notes and daydream at the same time?10. Start to study. It is hardly a secret that high school students in special education often have light homework and/or studying demands placed on them. Very often their course requirements seem diluted compared to those in the classes of their friends. In many cases, simply reading a chapter is sufficient to pass an exam. While students may be happy about that now, they pay the price in college, where the same standards are upheld for all. Therefore, students can benefit from learning study strategies now that they can continue to use to achieve success in college.Certainly other tips can be added to this list, but these ten suggestions are probably the most important in terms of successful college transition. Share them with your teen!