Applying to College with a Learning Disability

Written By Betsy Sunstrom 1/8/2016




  • Apply for as accommodations for the SAT and the ACT, and do it 8 WEEKS in advance! That is hard to do, because most people don’t register for the test in that timeframe. It takes 7 weeks for approval to come through. You have to provide proof of the disability (IEP or 504), and/or diagnosis.Your high school counselor is the best person to work with to get this step done. If the accommodations do not come in on time for the test you choose, they will give you the option of waiting for the next test.


  • Learning Disability? Read this before you start the application process!
    Yes, it is a bit more complicated to navigate applications with a learning disability, but you can get this done:
    There are 3 basic things you HAVE to do. The first step is crucial: SAT link:
    (College Board has a local Austin office, if you need to call or go:)
    Southwestern Regional Office
    College Board
    4330 Gaines Ranch Loop,
    Suite 200
    Austin, Texas 78735-6735
    Phone: 866-392-3017
    Fax: 512-721-1841
    ACT link:

    2. Don’t hide your learning disability when applying to college! Tell them. Write one of the essays about it. The Common Application has a section for ADDITIONAL INFORMATION; this is the place to reveal your LD. Colleges need diversity, and learning disabled students count toward that diversity. On the flipside, if you do not qualify for automatic admission due to lower test scores, knowing about the learning disability will require admissions offices to consider all sections of your application in their decision.

    3. Include the Disabilities office as a stop on your college tours. Each college campus will have one. You should make an ADMISSIONS appointment AND an appointment to meet with these specialists. You want to feel comfortable with the process of getting the help you need. Are the services/accommodations easy to access? How soon will you have to enroll in these services after admission?

    Other than those crucial steps, here are some colleges that have amazing programs for Learning Disabled students:

    WEST: Whittier College, University of Montana, University of Denver, University of Arizona
    SOUTHWEST: University of Tulsa, Baylor University, Southern Methodist University, Schreiner University, Texas Tech University, Universityof Houston
    SOUTHEAST: Lynn University, Flagler College, University of the Ozarks
    MIDWEST: DePaul University, Southern Illinois University (Carbondale), University of Indianapolis, Loras College
    NORTHEAST: Mitchell College, Landmark College, Curry College, Franklin Pierce College, Westfield State University, Lesley University

    There are scholarship opportunities out there for those with learning disabilities:

    These are worth checking out, too:
    –Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship
    –Ralph Norman Scholarship
    –Elks Scholarship
    –P. Buckley Moss Endowed Scholarship
    –Rise Scholarships & Awards
    –Gemm Learning’s Living With Dyslexia Scholarship
    –Incight Scholarship

    As a college coach, I have had amazing experiences working with students who have this added hurdle as they prepare for college. I’ve discovered that they are absolutely motivated and their life experience with a learning disability has already made them independent self-advocates. Hard work is just part of their daily learning life! What a lesson they have given me in perseverance!

    My Personal College Coach can add the know-how to this extra challenge. We help students realize that they have already been given the gift of self-direction; we just point them in the direction of the best place to shine!

    A final note to parents about sending learning disabled students to college:
    Parents who have navigated this learning journey will have to pass the torch now. Students need to be in charge of their own life adventure. Help choose a school that has amazing services, make sure your student knows how and when to use them, and watch them soar!
    See Lynn O’Shaughnessy’s article and advice:
    Written by Betsy Sunstrom / My Personal College Coach, LLC


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Article by Betsy Suntrom / Imagine College Coaching