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large college with a big LD population, or small LAC ??

expatCanuckexpatCanuck Registered User Posts: 421 Member
Hi folks -

A 'large' school with big LD population, or a small LAC where folks know you?
I've read folks opining on both sides of this coin.

On the one hand, you've got small LACs where professors & students
get to know one another. On the other, you've got larger colleges
(e.g. UVM, U Alabama) which have a 'critical mass' of LD students
needing support, and so have developed an infrastructure which can
support those students.

At my son's two high schools (~1800, ~200, we've seen microcosms
of both models, and the former has struck us as more effective.
That said, in college, I suspect that the key will be the combination
of an amenable/accommodating school (with the necessary resources),
and the student's ability to self-advocate (after that initial meeting ends
and the parents have to 'step out').

I'd very much welcome hearing folks' college experiences in this regard.

Thanks kindly,

- Richard
Post edited by expatCanuck on

Replies to: large college with a big LD population, or small LAC ??

  • MaystarmomMaystarmom Registered User Posts: 211 Junior Member
    My daughter's counselor has recommended she attend a college with an active "LD Center," whether it is a large or small school, public or private. A school just offering accommodations isn't enough of a support. She currently attends an academically rigorous high school with approximately 450 students, where the great support from teachers and staff allow her to do very well.

    We'll need to do some visiting, when colleges are in session, and scour the boards for feedback on western schools with LD/Resource Centers on campuses. My DD will be a junior this year.

    Best of luck.
  • KyMom95KyMom95 Registered User Posts: 23 New Member
    That is a difficult call. Look at your child and think about what type of school they would fit in best. I think you can find good situations in either a large, medium or small school.

    I would put a lot of weight on the student's disability so look at graduation requirements that don't make it harder for your child to succeed and call all of the DS offices to see how nice they are and if having a disability is seen as not that big a deal or if you get the idea that it will be hard to get what your child needs. I always asked if they have a seperate testing room as a make or break question. I didn't want my daughter to have the stress of figuring out where she was to take a test everytime and if a school can't find a designated room then they aren't taking the issue seriously in my opinion.

    Initially, she ruled out LACs as my daughter has a disability in written expression and the writing load would be unmanageable. Since she wants to be an engineer that wasn't a big loss. Amazingly, she found a LAC with a seperate engineering department and an active LD Center with a student body of around 2,000. The engineering school has very few writing requirements. She had to give up her hope of good weather and it is very remote and hard to get to for us. She will be starting in about a week.

    I would consider looking at medium size schools as they may have the best of both worlds for you.

    Maystarmom- Check out University of Denver if you can afford the tuition (visited and the center is awesome but costs extra over the 50,000 price tag). The college planner also found Loyola Marymount in southern Cal.

    The visit during school sessions is so important. We also found that visiting during prospective weekends was a disaster for my daughter as they were too overwhelming.

    Good Luck!
  • BossyMommyBossyMommy Registered User Posts: 134 Junior Member
    I would say it depends on the nature of your child's needs. I wasn't diagnosed with my ADD (no H for me) until my 40s, but, looking back, I can see that a small LAC made what could have been a challenge into an asset -- my internal urge to TRY EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING AND THEN DROP IT ALL AND TRY SOMETHING NEW was treated as a strength in college, and I think for someone who has that type of presentation, an LAC is the way to go. (I can't imagine how badly I would have fared in a very focused computer science or engineering program!) A student who requires concrete accommodations like a dedicated resource center, or who, like KYMom's daughter, doesn't do well with lots of writing? Most LACs would be a poor fit.
  • mozikamozika Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
    I've been contemplating exact same question. Unfortunately I don't like the answer "it depends on a child" -:) which I totally agree with by the way.
    I think the original comparison of 2 high schools is somewhat faulty because 200 students is a very small school with presumably limited resources (unless it's a specialized LD school in which case I would like to know why it wasn't better than ~1800 school). I think it would be more useful to compare ~2000 and ~500 high schools, which one could probably extrapolate to ~10,000 and ~2,500 colleges. I have personal experience with latter and heard from friends in former (I'm taking about high schools here). No situation is perfect but I believe latter provides better support.
  • expatCanuckexpatCanuck Registered User Posts: 421 Member
    It also depends on the support personnel. The right (or wrong) individual can make all the difference.
  • MaystarmomMaystarmom Registered User Posts: 211 Junior Member
    Thanks KyMom95--I'll look at the U of Denver website.

    Loyola Marymount is in our backyard, and everyone I know who has gone there has loved it. It may feel like a continuation of H.S. for DD '15, as a fair amount of kids from her H.S. end up there.

    We are seriously looking at the SALT program at the U of Arizona. I think that it is the type of program that could give her the support she needs to make it through college, while allowing her some independence to be away from home. And there are so many interesting majors there, although right now she has no idea what she wants to do or study; she will be a late bloomer, I think.

    I'm sure there are some small LAC's that would work for her, without a special program, but with small classes and an involved faculty. She is at a small private H.S. with that type of support now, after having an I.E.P. in public school for years. Either way works for her, as long as folks get her learning differences.
  • lawrencemomlawrencemom Registered User Posts: 210 Junior Member
    My daughter is LD and had special services when young at a small private school and then not in public school grades 7-12. Because teachers were 'accommodating' she decided she wasn't LD anymore. In college it's all 'FERPA' and so a parent doesn't have direct lines to counseling/advising/etcetera. Lo and behold, the small LAC she got into/loves did give her some big challenges, and she called home in a panic when facing a test she couldn't complete on time. Sent her to counseling/advising, got a referral for new testing (had to pay for it/insurance wouldn't cover) and now she has accommodations. The school has been very good about trying to help her with tutors, one substitution for a class she couldn't successfully get a handle on in less than a semester, etcetera. Thus, I would wager that 'any school' is going to do its best to help students as long as those students connect with the documentation to show the disability. Legally, schools have to accommodate. It doesn't mean skipping out on anything, but my kid, for example, loves to learn and wants to learn. She just doesn't learn like the majority of other kids and has a couple of areas that are never going to change/be impossible to successfully finish without help and/or substitutions. It's not an easy road, and the LD issue was always in the back of my mind as she moved through freshman year before testing.

    And a p.s.: if she had been tested during public school.... she may have gotten extended time for ACT/SAT; she didn't finish either one/had fairly weak scores, but applied to test-option schools amongst others and had strong grades, good interviewing/speaking skills, etc. going for her. She also could have set up all the extended time/etc. work prior to the start of her studies if she had tested before going to campus, but for her it ended up being the end of the first school year when it all got ironed out. I remember lots of students needing accommodations at an orientation meeting the first week on campus... they were lucky to be working on it up front.

    Best of luck to you. It's good you are working on it now. :)
  • shawbridgeshawbridge Registered User Posts: 5,250 Senior Member
    I think the choice of school and design of the programs may matter more than size, though small classes that enable a professor to get to know a strong student with LDs may make a difference. My D only needs 50% extended time and she got that at a big school and then at a small one. My son is more complex -- benefits for a lot of accommodations. But, perhaps as important was choosing a school with flexible curricular requirements. He was able to avoid having to take courses with 400 pages of reading a week. He attended an elite LAC and graduated summa cum laude with a 3.96 GPA. The small size meant that his professors quickly realized how bright he was and how hard he was trying and this caused many of them to be extremely flexible.
  • rhandcorhandco Registered User Posts: 4,281 Senior Member
    IMHO, try some summer programs, at both types of schools if you can. Best way to tell. We have done some tours and some campus visits, and the opinions we had before actually going on campus changed a lot, sometimes for the better sometimes not.
  • happy64happy64 Registered User Posts: 93 Junior Member
    I guess I am looking for similar answers - son has very high verbal skills/reasoning but has huge difficulties with the writing/reading part. In IB Diploma program at an International School overseas so is happy in small school, not looking for athletic programs or fraternities but will need support with writing so....larger school with dedicated LD support or small LAC where he will have personal dealings with his professors?
  • mozikamozika Registered User Posts: 65 Junior Member
    Almost all the colleges that we visited (small and big, public and private) have a dedicated writing center where students can get help. I think it's more or less a standard now. How proactive is your son with getting help? If he is not good at seeking help, small LAC might be better.
  • dspflyerdspflyer Registered User Posts: 110 Junior Member
    @shawbridge - I saw your post from 2014 regarding your son. I have an 11th grade son with LD issues - best way to describe would be perceptual reasoning deficit and visual processing deficit. He has had an IEP for several years and will take the ACT on Sat 12/10 with the 50% extended time accommodation. He is a 2.9 - 3.0 GPA, working hard to maintain that so no honors or AP classes. His timed practice ACT returned a 25 so we are praying he can match that his first time out of the gate.

    He is interested in PSU Altoona (could never ever imagine him on main campus), U of Hartford and Fairleigh Dickinson to start. He would love to go to Hofstra but i doubt he would get in. ≈ He too is thirsty to learn and would be so much better in a school (science, tech) where he would not be loaded with English / writing or 400 page books.

    When the time comes, does an LD student with moderate accommodations (extended test taking time etc) include the LD points or does he apply with no mention of it? I know there are good universities with LD supports BUT only once you get accepted.
  • shawbridgeshawbridge Registered User Posts: 5,250 Senior Member
    @dspflyer, all other things equal, I would advise against disclosing the LDs/accommodations. The admissions people are completely separate from the Disabilities Services Office (DSO). I think that disclosing can hurt the probability of admission. If your son gets in, disclose before accepting to the DSO and ask them to tell you what accommodations they will provide (after you have given them all of the psych testing plus IEP plus the accommodations the ACT gives).

    The only caveat is as follows: If your son's program looks odd because of his LDs or there are some things that really need to be explained that were caused by the LD, then I would disclose. We had to do that with my son as he was partially homeschooled and the reasons were because he needed to learn to write and his HS did not know how to teach him and because he was so good at math that the Honors curriculum at the HS was painfully slow. Although he got in to great schools, he didn't get into some that were surprising including my alma mater.

    Unless you need to do so, I'd recommend not disclosing.
This discussion has been closed.