Whether or not to disclose a learning disability in college can be a difficult decision for a student who has endured the stigma of being labeled “special education” throughout their schooling. Students often choose to drop the “LD” stamp and feel like their peers Not to reveal after graduation. However, be sure to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each choice because the ramifications of that choice can sometimes be dire.
Students often don’t realize that college brings with it a whole new set of rules regarding disabilities – in college, it’s students with disabilities anonymous. Disclosure is confidential and concerns only the Disability Office and any educators that the student informs. Labels are not present.
Should you disclose in an application? Probably not – unless you’re applying to a college that only accepts students with disabilities, or you have to explain unusually poor grades or test scores. In general, you don’t want to give a university any grounds for prejudice. One might logically assume that college admissions officers are knowledgeable about disabilities and understand that students with LD can be an asset—they are often very creative, intelligent thinkers. But even among experts there is still an extraordinary lack of knowledge. Why do you risk an uninformed person reviewing your application?
However, once admitted to a college, there is definitely Benefits of Disclosure:
- Coming out of high school, a supportive environment with lower expectations and a lighter workload, you will likely struggle to navigate a new system without guidance or a safety net. Disclosure entitles you to accommodations such as extra time, a distraction-free testing environment, a transcriptionist, specialized tutoring, etc. Taking advantage of these accommodations does not give you any advantages—it merely levels the playing field and gives you the same opportunities as other students. Think of accommodations like you would wear glasses.
- Disclosure provides protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), specifically Section 504. If your records support accommodations and you are denied, the law is on your side. Without disclosure, you are vulnerable despite having a disability.
- Disclosing and using precautions early on will increase your chances of success and boost your confidence. It’s much easier to maintain a high GPA (grade point average) than raise a low one. Students who insist on doing the first semester “on their own” often struggle with the unique challenges of the college and end up with subpar grades. They are then able to raise their GPAs to an acceptable level – which may take time many Semester. When you start a new business, doesn’t it make sense to put your best foot forward? Isn’t it true that good grades make you stronger? Conversely, bad grades can make you doubt your decision to go to college in the first place.
- If you suspect that you will not be able to handle a full college study load initially, and your psychoeducational testing supports this, ask your examiner to add “Reduced study load” to the list of recommendations at the end of your documentation. disclosure should give you permission to take fewer classes while still counting as a full-time student for insurance purposes. Be sure to inquire about this with your university’s disability support.
©2007 Joan Azarva
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