Researching Academic Learning Programs for Students with Learning Challenges

For seniors and parents looking for academic services for their students, the task can be daunting. Which program is better? Will they honor my student’s IEP or 504 Plan? 

The differences between a complete academic service-learning program and basic academic accommodations begin with the college or university’s services. To start, colleges and universities do not offer or provide a 504 Plan or IEP as provided at the secondary education level. Instead, each college and or university has either a tutoring center, Disability Services Offices, or Office of Accessibility, which works with candidates and families to review services offered at the institution which best meet each individual’s needs.

Academic Learning Programs are for candidates who have received consistent services through an IEP (Individual Educational Plan), based on academic testing and diagnosed with an intellectual learning challenge. To seek out these programs, students and families need to research or seek assistance in where these programs located, the program’s services that meet the student’s academic needs, and the process for consideration.  

Suggestions and questions for researching Academic Learning Programs:

  1. Does your student need an academic learning program or essential academic services? What is the student’s comfort level regarding using educational services?
  2. Research programs through a Private College Counselor who has a background within the area, Guidance Counselor, and or Special Education Department at your high school on where to begin the search for colleges and universities which offer these programs.
  3. As colleges are being selected, it is essential to review the requirements for each program with either a Private College Counselor or a Guidance Counselor on the types of documentation required for each program. How many years can the program consider for the academic testing? Will new testing be needed for consideration? Will students need to complete a separate application for the program? Is an interview required as a part of the process? What types of learning challenges considered for the program?
  4. Understand all the particulars for each program at each college or university. Are the services provided for just one year, or can the benefits be used all four years? Are students assigned a mentor or advisor? How many times during a week do they meet or during the semester?
  5. For students and parents seeking out testing accommodations, the focus should be on what qualifies a student. For example, how does a student request testing accommodations based on the student’s testing and the additional documentation of either a 504 plan or IEP?
  6. Based on the information provided by the program, what are the learning outcomes the program focuses on for each student?

Our College Counselor, Karrie Sullivan, has expertise in counseling students with learning challenges, and is a member of Learning Disabilities Association of America.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash