Learning disability accommodations are widely available in colleges and universities. Getting students to use these accommodations is a different story.
It understandable why students often resist the idea of receiving accommodations in college. Developmentally, one of the tasks of young adulthood is to become self-reliant, and asking for help feels counter intuitive and creates a level of uncomfortable vulnerability. In addition, a student’s disability may be the very thing that is stopping them from being able to initiate and follow through with setting up accommodations. As a result, college students often want to drop the label of “learning disability” and believe that their challenges will just go away. This is a normal process, yet it can be detrimental to their ability to succeed in their courses.
In order to tackle this issue when students enroll in College Excel, part of their orientation includes interviewing with the college’s learning disability accommodation coordinator. This takes the pressure off the student to make the appointment on their own and is often the first step they take towards practicing self-advocacy in the college setting.
Next, our Student Success Coaches work with the student to set up, implement, and use the services for which they qualify. During this process, the student is coached to accept and understand their needs, develop the ability to explain those needs to others, and separate their needs for additional help from interfering with their level of self-worth.
In conclusion, it is not as easy at it appears for students with learning disabilities to use accommodations in the college environment, but as many LD students will tell you, once they worked through their resistance to accepting and using accommodations, it was the critical difference between academically thriving versus just surviving.
If you know a student with a learning disability who is making the transition to college, make sure they have added support to take the action needed to set up, implement, and maintain their accommodations. Assuming they can do this on their own or without consistent follow-up support is a setup for the process to fail. Students can find this support through college learning and counseling centers, academic advisors, and coaches. Parents, mentors, and friends can also be part of the team supporting the student to use their accommodations.