Should Learning Challenges Be Disclosed on College Applications?

If you are one of the twenty percent of Americans with learning disabilities, you may wonder if you should let the admissions committees know you have learning challenges on college applications. At one time, there might have been a stigma to admitting a disability such as dyslexia or dysphasia, but today there are so many treatments and accommodations for learning disabilities that some well-known people are talking about their challenges. Walt Disney, Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Spielberg and many others were diagnosed with dyslexia in school. Olympics great Michael Phelps has ADHD. If you have a learning disability, there is no reason to hide it, especially on college applications.

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Colleges Won’t Ask You

When you fill out a college application, you won’t be asked if you have a learning disability. The 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits that question. That means it is up to you, the student, to make the university aware that you have some challenges. Why should you disclose that fact on your application?

The Edge in Admissions

Colleges have a quota of diverse student admissions to meet in order to get federal monies. Diverse refers to gender, ethnicity and other factors in addition to students with special needs. That means you might have a slightly higher chance of admission if you fall into one of these groups. Committees look at things like GPAs or scores on exams. Your disclosure of a learning disability might explain lower scores in some areas. Plus, there are several scholarship opportunities available for students who have learning challenges.

Your Successes are Impressive to Schools

Admissions committees take into account figures that predict your collegiate success. If you demonstrate to them how you have overcome your challenges, it goes a long way to forecasting your probable success in school. It will spell out your dedication and determination, as well as your ability to find accommodations.

You Can Get Help in School

Some universities have a great support program, including trained staff, services and resources, for students with learning challenges. Some schools offer the services, but don’t have programs or staff trained to administer them. If you are thinking about applying to a certain school, it would be worth your time to investigate whether it offers a support program or just the accommodations. Whichever they have, it is up to you to tell them about your disability and ask for the services.

How to Make your Disclosure

When you fill out your college application, you may see a section called “additional information.” This is where you can talk about your challenges. Explain what the disability is, and how it affected your learning. Talk about what accommodations the school took to help you, and what you did on your own to overcome the difficulties. For instance, you might have engaged a tutor or have addressed ADHD by taking medications. It could also be helpful to enclose a letter from the educational specialist who made the diagnosis. Be certain to talk about how your grades rose after the accommodations were initiated. You might also address how you anticipate using support services in college to ensure your success.

Learning disabilities are challenging, but they are not roadblocks. If anything, your success in light of these challenges will prove your character to future employers. With so many advantages to gain from an enlightened society, there is no reason not to disclose your Learning Challenges in college applications.