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What can I do to help my Learning Disabled Son or Daughter Prepare for College?

from from Mitchell College, New London, CT

Most learning disabilities today are identified in early childhood and monitored throughout the educational process. By high school, students are provided with the services and accommodations they need to reach graduation. But what is the next step for students who wish to continue their education – and what prepares today’s student for tomorrow’s challenges in the work world?

While the college graduation rate for students with learning disabilities is lower than that of their peers, there are many things than can be done to significantly increase the rate of success at college and instill skills that will further students in their desired career paths.

Below are suggestions and resources that can give your student the extra leg-up needed to flourish in college and beyond.

  1. Every student must become his or her own advocate. Many, tired of carrying the label of "LD" throughout their elementary, middle and high school academics, decide to withhold disclosure of their learning disability to a college or university. This decision can render a student ineligible for the academic support and special services that have been recommended. Being honest with yourself, your student and a prospective college is very important to ensuring that your student receives the assistance that he or she deserves.

  2. The choice of college is very important. LD programs vary greatly for college to college, and offerings range from minimal peer tutoring to math and writing centers, weekly planning sessions with advisors and special learning environments. You will need to be realistic about support needs and make sure that the college can accommodate them. For instance, most colleges have large tutoring centers, yet they aren’t often designed for the student that needs more than twenty minutes of assistance or the student that has specialized needs. If a college does not provide up to three sessions for an LD student per week, you might want to consider securing outside tutoring.

  3. Plan to start slowly. LD students may make the mistake of assuming a full-time load in college, not realizing that the level of homework and studying required in college is more demanding than high school. It is far better for the student to add to the course load in future semesters than become overwhelmed while adjusting to the new unstructured environment.

  4. Consider an academic "transition year." A few schools throughout the US offer exceptional one-year programs designed to assist high school graduates prepare for a four-year college. They provide professional tutoring and guidance as well as key educational tools for students to learn how to manage time, identify their unique learning style, organize and prioritize assignments, set goals and socialize in a new environment.

The Mitchell College Experience…

Thames Academy at Mitchell College in New London, CT is a one-year transitional academic program that helps high school graduates gain the skills and maturity they need to conquer the challenges of college.

In this structured residential program, students earn up to twenty transferable units within a collegiate environment and gain the confidence and learning habits that will help them when they enter a four-year institution.

In addition to classes in math, psychology, English and humanities, Thames Academy students attend weekly required workshops on key academic and life-skill topics, including Vocabulary & Writing, Personal Finance, Learning & Study Strategies, and Team Building & Collaboration. These classes help students learn how to better utilize time management and critical judgment, improve their ability to delay gratification, and learn how to work and study in different environments.

Additionally, students attend weekly required sessions in either small group tutoring or with a specialist at the Learning Resource Center. By better understanding the ways in which they learn, students can begin to acquire and master constructive habits and improve skills in note taking, outlining, writing, and test taking.

Social interaction is another key benefit of any transition year program. Leaving home can be exciting and challenging for any student, but especially the LD student. At Thames, students gain maturity, self discipline and confidence through co-curricular and intramural activities, residential programs and life skills classes. It is a year of preparation that provides a student with the abilities needed to study away from home with success.

Most importantly, Thames focuses on the students' academic goals beyond the Academy. Two-thirds of Thames Academy graduates continue on at Mitchell College, but others have gone on to Emerson College, New England College, New Mexico State University, Beach College, St. Francis College, Salem State College, Rochester Institute of Technology, and more.

Thames Academy Thames Academy is a post-grad (PG) or pre-college transitional experience located at Michell College in New London, CT. You can reach them at: 860-701-5044, or by email,

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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