There are many ways to achieve a successful college education with a learning disability. In fact, these often “invisible disabilities” are more prominent on college campuses then you may think. A new statistic suggests that 1 out of every 5 college students has some kind of learning disability. This definition can include anything from ADHD, dyslexia, or the student may even land somewhere on the autism spectrum. There was certainly a time when dyslexia at college was not something people celebrated. This is no longer the case. Now you will even find a variety of tailored college programs for students with intellectual disabilities.
Maybe you are on a quest for an academic experience that fits your unique needs? Maybe in your research you are typing in schools for learning disabilities near me? Maybe you are looking to travel to a program that offers intensive learning interventions for students who require additional support? There are many things that may have brought you to this page. What you will find here are 30 institutions of higher learning that take neurodiversity seriously. They all believe that a learning disability does not have to be a roadblock to a successful education and life path.
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In fact, many of these schools celebrate the ways that students learn differently, and offer tools that bring out the best aspects of learning differences. Each program has its own flair, but many have in common access to a one-on-one coach or mentor. This individual support will keep students on track with their goals and personal trajectory of success. The majority of these programs are fee-based, and require funds beyond tuition to access their services. You will notice that most of them, however, have scholarship opportunities. What you will find here is an empowering list that suggests the future is diverse and there is a seat at the table for everyone, no matter how you learn.
Diversity and inclusion are two of the most emphasized focal points in Middlebury College’s mission. As a result, they are one of the top colleges for students with learning disabilities. It is clear that they do not see accommodating the needs of students with learning disabilities as a burden. Instead they value the fact that their students have come to the table with different needs. Middlebury is proud that their faculty and administration are skilled and inclusive enough to meet each person where they are. During the 2018-2019 academic year one out of every seven students on campus have self-identified as having some kind of disability. They take a lot of pride in their comprehensive Disability Resource Center and want students to utilize that space to seek support and accommodations, but also to build community. Their services are confidential with a range of accommodations including readers, note takers, scribes, access to screen reading software, and psychological health services. They want all students to know You are not alone.
If you have been diagnosed with a learning disability, the University of North Carolina Chapel HIll is an amazing school to support your needs. Students that attend this large public school have access to a comprehensive learning center that specifically offers ADHD support and support for students with a variety of learning disabilities. None of their services cost money beyond what students pay for tuition. The Learning Center offers unlimited access to supportive videos and books that detail ways to be successful with an ADHD or LD diagnosis as a student. Students can make appointments with support specialists through their website that help to create strategies around holistically improving their relationship to learning. The university is home to an annual seminar called Burnett Seminars at Carolina, which brings a new keynote each year to discuss topics related to student life with learning differences. The upcoming conference is titled: “Thinking Beyond Normal- How to Live, Learn, and Thrive Outside the Lines.” Neurodiversity is celebrated on this campus, and seminars such as this give the wider student body more opportunities to think outside the box on such topics. Another feature of the Learning Center is the offering of support groups for students with learning differences, to not only allow for less isolation, but also enhanced skill building.
Northeastern University has its own specialized Learning Disabilities Program that is designed to support undergraduates who have a diagnosis of ADHD or another Learning Disability. This offering has been written up on many occasions, including by the Huffington Post as one of the best programs on a college campus to support the needs of students with disabilities. One of the features of this program is that each student is assigned a specialist that they connect with in person two times per week, each for one hour. These sessions give participants ongoing academic and emotional support as well as consistent strategizing opportunities to learn about themselves and the ways that they learn most effectively. The student’s goals dictate the content of the meetings. All specialists are versed in supporting their mentees with a myriad of topics, including their specific coursework, time management, organization, test taking strategies, and executive functioning. The Learning Disabilities Program also offers prospective students and their families information sessions.
The University of California at Irvine campus offers an extensive Disability Services Center. Much of their mission includes creatively engaging with learning differences and shattering the stigma and stereotypes that are often attached to them. They pride themselves on creating an inclusive culture that puts the responsibility of ensuring that everybody has equal access to learning on the entire student body and faculty. Their programming is shaped by a set of values that include individual growth, diversity, civility, and development. Their outlook on learning differences is forward thinking, as they believe neurodiversity is an important part of having a vibrant community. They make it easy for students to disclose their disability status in order to access support services and also to request alternative instructional materials. Students are also given a seamless avenue to support them to come forward and make reports about any barriers they have had in receiving the accommodations they deserve. The Disability Services Center offers the larger student population the opportunity to participate in a 3-hour workshop to become a formal ally for students with learning differences.
Southern Methodist University (SMU) is known for providing stellar academic support resources for all of their students, so it comes as no surprise that they have exceptional support services for students with documented learning disabilities, including ADHD. They have a number of Disability Support Services that are designed to give students with disabilities creative intervention strategies to be successful in their academic careers. One of these offerings includes learning strategies instruction, which allows students to hone in on their strengths academically for greater success. They also offer academic coaching that both keeps students from falling through the cracks and also allows them to set big and small goals with paths towards their accomplishment. Coaching sessions are tailored to the student’s unique course load and experiences. Students are offered a specific class on learning strategies that is distinctly designed for those who have a learning disability, including ADHD. There are many opportunities for students to participate in workshops or seek one-on-one support to help them understand their diagnosis more expansively. Additional offerings include peer mentoring and tutoring.
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The University of the Ozarks offers students that learn differently a comprehensive support resource called the Jones Learning Center. In 2012 they first opened their doors on campus to not only offer students academic services geared towards learning differences, but also resources related to student life. Their resources are not only geared towards students with ADHD, but they also offer a variety of opportunities for students on the autism spectrum. This includes independent living skills and support to build confidence and resilience. Students who participate in this programming will learn social thinking along with an individualized program that supports the students personal path. Students that participate in the Jones Learning Center’s offerings will meet regularly with their personal learning and support coach. They will also have regular group consultations that support them to build community. Participants will be able to live alongside residential life staff that will support them to continue wrap around meetings and participate in life skill building.
The University of Connecticut is committed to offering their students with learning differences academic accommodations that will enable them to be successful in their academic careers. Their Center for Students with Disabilities takes this mission even further with a program called Beyond Access. This is an umbrella for a variety of learning and strategy opportunities for students with learning differences. The phrase that drives this program is: Work Smarter Not Harder. Students who participate in Beyond Access will be matched with a personal strategy instructor who they will meet with one to three hours per week. These sessions will be used to create individualized plans for each student that tap into their distinct learning styles and needs. Students will have individualized support to work on time management, life skills, personal and professional goals, as well as stress management. This opportunity has a comprehensive team to support its programming. This is a fee based project with scholarship opportunities for students who qualify.
American University offers their students with disabilities the same mandated “reasonable accommodations” as any other university, however, they also have a variety of groundbreaking resources. Many students seek admission at American University specifically because of their Learning Services Program for first year students with Learning Disabilities. The program is a big time commitment for an already busy first year student. The goal is to create a successful path of learning in the first year that will carry students through their entire academic career. Each participant will meet with a one-on-one counselor weekly. They will also have weekly sessions with a writing tutor and be paired with a student mentor. They will also have individualized course advising regularly. After the first year they will continue to have regular check-ins and remain in the loop, however, it will be much less intensive. Though students must still apply with the regular admissions standards to the university, they must also submit application materials to the Learning Services Program.
The University of Denver offers their students with learning disabilities a resource called The Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP). It has evolved since its founding in 1982. They provide students with a variety of learning disabilities several support services. They can accommodate up to 300 students annually in LEP. One of the unique aspects of this opportunity is that it is not only student centered, but student led. There is plenty of counselor and instructional support, but the student is always expected to take the lead using the four cornerstones of LEP student development. These include: self-advocacy, self-determination, self awareness, and accountability. Each week participants will meet with their LEP Academic counselor for up to one hour. These meetings will help students set up an accountability structure that will ensure they are following their commitments regarding time management, attendance, and even healthy eating and exercise habits. This program has a holistic approach that caters to every aspect of the student and their lives.
The University of Arizona has a comprehensive intervention for students who learn differently. The Salt Center, which stands for Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques, offers academic support resources for students who have learning and attention differences. Through the SALT Center students will have the opportunity to regularly work with support specialists. With professional leadership and guidance they will specifically look at their personal challenges and set goals that can have a dramatic impact on their academic outcomes. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in specialized workshops, have access to regular tutoring, and also comprehensive psychological services. The University of Arizona does not believe in isolating students with learning differences, and so the SALT Center was created to ensure students will have the support they need in their immersive education. They also utilize the most cutting edge technology, including learning tools and apps to support students from every avenue.
Ursuline College has extensive resources for students with learning and attention differences. One of their offerings is called the FOCUS Program. Some of the goals of this resource is to help students transition into the college setting, improve self advocacy skills, and develop successful academic strategies. Students interested in participating in the FOCUS program will choose between four stages, all of which have different fees and different levels of support. Students must apply to participate in this programming by contacting a disability specialist on campus and collaborating on a personal plan if the FOCUS program seems like a good fit for them. They must already have a documented learning disability to be considered for this specialized program. Students are permitted to use their financial aid to cover the FOCUS program. There is no obligation to remain in FOCUS if they are ready to move on, or it is not a good fit.
DePaul University has their own Center for Students with Disabilities that is geared towards providing interventions and support for students who have learning differences. They believe that offering these resources will enable students who qualify to participate fully in their academic careers with less stigma. Part of the mission of this center highlights the fact that it is every department’s responsibility to offer students the support to be successful, and this resource is there as a hub. There are two buildings, one on each campus where students can access disability resources. Students must go through a process to disclose their disability with the proper documentation to qualify for this programming. There are many avenues to gain support following this process. They may choose to work one-on-one with a Learning Specialist Clinician, though there will be a fee-for-service that is specific to that resource. There are many free ways to access adaptive technologies, however, and additional supports.
The University of Vermont offers students comprehensive accessibility services through their Center for Academic Success. They have extensive resources available for students with documented learning differences including mental health struggles. Their primary mission heavily weights the value of collaboration between faculty, staff, the campus community, and of course the student. Housed in their center are a variety of assistive technologies that students have access to. This includes software and personal devices. They also have a testing center that offers reduced distractions, and they also provide alternative formats to printed materials. A comprehensive note taking program is also housed in this center as well, among other resources that support translation and even sign language interpretation. The Center for Academic success is also in communication with residential life, ensuring that students’ housing is supportive and accessible to their unique needs. The Center for Academic Success believes in offering these services at no additional cost to students.
West Virginia Wesleyan College is proud to offer extensive disability support through their Learning Center. They work with students who have documented learning and attention differences to create structured individualized plans. Students will work one-on-one with a Comprehensive Advisor, all of which hold graduate degrees in education, special education, or psychology. This advisement will provide an anchor for all aspects of the student’s life in their first year of college. Students will collaborate with their advisor to develop strategies around self-motivation, time management, choosing appropriate accommodations, and connecting to other beneficial programs. Students will have access to both professional tutors as well as peer based tutoring. Peer-led study groups are also regularly offered through this comprehensive center. They also offer students access to what is called the Linda-Mood Bell approach to learning, which is a fee-based program to support different learning styles.
Muskingum University has many offerings that cater to students with learning differences, most of which emerge from the PLUS Program. Since 1983 the PLUS Program has been in place to provide students with documented learning disabilities opportunities to gain academic and personal support. Their website offers their unique set of values that state the fact that they aim to empower rather than rescue students. They have many programmatic offerings that are fee-based. Students can opt for the Premier Program and get up to 5 hours of one-on-one tutoring with a professional. Every level, however, provides students with mentorship and progress tracking services. Students will collaborate with staff to find the accommodations and learning tools that will help shape an effective academic and ultimately a career path for them. The three tiers that the PLUS Program offers are called Premier, Select, and Transitional services. The intensity of the program is chosen by the student, and can be changed throughout their academic experience.
Through Hofstra University’s Student Access Services students with learning differences can gain comprehensive support within their Program for Academic Learning Skills (PALS). This offering has been in existence for 30 years with the mission of supporting students with learning differences, including ADHD, to be successful. PALS goes beyond the “reasonable accommodations” that the university offers, and is a fee-based service for students who want to be part of this comprehensive support network. Students must first have a diagnosed learning disability to qualify for the program. Once they are enrolled, they will work one on one with a learning specialist to meet their personal goals and continue to learn how to learn in a way that is best for them. Many topics will be covered with this individual advisor, including time management and executive functioning skills. Not all Hofstra students will be guaranteed admission to the PALS Program. It requires a separate application.
Ashland University offers students the Center for Academic Support, which provides all students with a safety net as far as academic and personal support are concerned. Their programming is run off of the values that include: Learning, Empowerment, Innovation, Dedication, and Integrity. Located in the library, all students can access this collaborative support tool that can include tutoring and services geared towards transitioning freshmen into the academic environment. The Center for Academic Support works closely with the Student Accessibility Center, which provides resources and accommodations to students with documented learning disabilities. Students with learning differences will have access to tutoring and emotional support services within the collaboration between these two resources.
Nicholls State University is home to the Louisiana Center for Dyslexia and Related Learning Disorders. This Center not only serves the university, but is also a resource offered to community members, including for children as young as five years old. Students at the University, however, are able to participate in the comprehensive academic support program that the center offers. It is no surprise that as a result of this resource Nicholls is considered one of the best colleges for students with dyslexia. This center offers students the assignment of a coordinator that will support them in their transition to higher education. They will have a built in network of support that will ensure they have what they need as they integrate into the college environment. They will receive extensive tutoring in all of their courses, as well as academic planning support.
Marshall University offers a program for their students with learning differences called Higher Education for Learning Problems Center (H.E.L.P.). This academic support service has been around for 35 years, and has continued to grow with cutting edge resources and technology to serve students with learning differences. This is a fee based service with different divisions that serve the needs of a variety of students. They offer specific support around ADHD and pair students with a learning coach. With the provided academic and personal support, students will have the opportunity to improve their time management skills, gain self-awareness, access emotional support, and learn what academic accommodations are a good fit for their unique needs.
Adelphi University offers students with learning differences access to a comprehensive support program called the Learning Resource Program. Students who participate in the offerings associated with this program will have access to comprehensive support related to their ADHD or other learning disability diagnosis. This includes a personal academic support counselor that will help students set realistic goals and check in weekly to ensure they are on the right track. There are also many resources available for students on the autism spectrum that allow for regular academic and personal support as well. In fact Adelphi is considered one of the best colleges for students with autism as a result of this program. The Learning Resource Program ensures that students will not fall through the cracks, and will be able to continue to learn about their own building blocks for success.
Roosevelt University offers students with learning disabilities comprehensive support through their Disability Services branch.This service is connected to the general campus Academic Success Center. The office provides students who have a learning disability diagnosis with extensive opportunities to receive support around their personal barriers to learning. Students can work with advisors to set individualized goals and an academic plan that they are given the necessary accommodations to accomplish. Essentially, they will be able to learn about their own needs and what will help them meet their distinct goals. It is within the vision of the center to ensure students with disabilities are not isolated and they have what they need to participate in all aspects of academic and student life.
Eastern Kentucky University offers students with disabilities a variety of resources that are available at the Center for Student Accessibility. They believe that all students are entitled to a fair and accessible education regardless of their mental, physical, and learning disability status. Students are responsible for disclosing their diagnosed learning disability status prior to receiving on-campus support services and accommodations, however. For students who have not yet been diagnosed with a learning disability or a mental illness, but would like to participate in this programming, the Center for Student Accessibility can provide them with a referral for the proper testing. This resource provides students with tutoring, opportunities to apply to have an emotional support animal, counseling, and a variety of accommodations that can make their academic career easier.
Limestone College offers students with disabilities access to what is called the LEAP Program (Learning Enrichment and Achievement). Students who participate in this program will have the opportunity to work with a personal organizational coach and a learning specialist. They will have extensive one-on-one support that will tie into all aspects of their personal and academic experience. Some of their offerings include supervised study halls, individualized tutoring sessions, secondary academic advisement, and weekly and mid-term progress reports. Students who participate in LEAP will be required to participate in at least 10 hours per week of their tailored offerings. LEAP staff will maintain regular communications with faculty members that work with their students. Generally 2-3 percent of Limestone’s student population receive LEAP services.
Curry College is visionary when it comes to supporting its students with learning disabilities including ADHD. They offer a Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL), which serves 20 percent of their incoming students per year. Curry can be seen among colleges for special needs students when taking into account the large impact PAL has on the student body. Many students that participate are also in the honors program and become leaders in their fields of choice. Each student participating in PAL is given an IPAD and a variety of support tools to make their education more tailored and accessible to them. Students that participate in PAL programming will have additional weekly commitments that include meeting with an advisor/ coach that will support their goals and academic success. Students must apply to get into PAL.
East Tennessee State University offers a Learning Support Program that was designed to provide additional guidance for students who came in with test scores that reflect an academic need. The program does everything they can to ease the transition for students from high school to college level work and helps them improve their test taking skills and competencies in needed subjects. They also work with students to get referrals for psychological counseling if that seems to be an effective intervention for the student. They have a variety of tutoring opportunities and access to accommodations that will make the students academic and career goals more attainable. Students will also have access to personal support around lifeskills and the transition to college as well as academic resources.
As far as college programs for students with intellectual disabilities go, Daemen College offers an exemplary program called College Autism Transition Support (CATS). Students who participate in this comprehensive offering will have access to one-on-one life skills coaching that is offered once a week. They will also receive a peer life skills coach who is either a recent graduate or upper division student. Each coach has gone through extensive training to be effective in this role. Students will be able to work on their personal goals while in the program which may include problem solving, decision making, stress management, self-monitoring, and self awareness, among many others. Students will address challenging social dynamics and get the support they need to navigate social and academic scenarios that they may encounter on campus and beyond.
Beacon College offers students with learning differences access to their Center for Student Success. This is not only a resource rich collection of offerings, but also a relaxed and quiet space where students can study, attend groups, meet with a learning specialist, or connect with a peer tutor. Every student at Beacon is assigned a learning specialist who will meet with them one-on-one. In these sessions students will get a better handle on how they learn best, critical thinking skills, self-advocacy skills, and gain an awareness of how and when they should access additional support services. Peer tutoring is highly supported and encouraged by the Center for Student Success at Beacon, as are a variety of Study Groups. Learning Specialists and TAs both host study groups. Often they meet on a weekly basis.
Landmark College is unique in that the entire school is centered around students who learn differently. They offer a variety of academic support services that are geared towards meeting the distinct goals of their entire student population. Students can even just drop-in, on a day that is presenting itself with personal challenges, to access one-on-one support, or they can participate in weekly academic advising opportunities that are tailored to their particular goals. They also have access to coaches who will work with students on executive functioning and life skills. There are many opportunities for students to participate in groups or receive individual counseling to support them personally and academically. There are a wide array of technological resources that all students can take advantage of.
Mitchell College offers an empowering program for students who have been diagnosed with learning differences through their Bentsen Learning Center. There are multiple tiers to this fee-based learning environment that supports students to meet their academic goals while they are on campus and beyond. Students develop learning strategies with a relational focus that include time management, research, writing, organization, test prep, and study skills. In the beginning students will start with Tier 1, where they will receive several hours per week of support services and they will work their way to Tier 3 where they will get less support and exercise more independence within their academic trajectory. Students will need to apply directly to the Bentsen Learning Center following acceptance to Mitchell College.
Mount St. Joseph University offers students with a diagnosed learning disability access to a comprehensive academic support program called Project EXCEL. This program has been in existence since 1982, and has continued to improve based on cutting edge research on interventions related to learning disabilities. Students who participate in Project EXCEL will be given one-on-one support to address their own challenges to learning and create personal achievable goals related to their academic program. Each participant will receive weekly professional tutoring, executive functioning support, technology support instruction, and weekly consultations for freshmen. This is a highly engaged program that was designed to give students with learning differences the necessary tools to transition with ease from high school to college.
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We hope this list answers some of your questions about going to college with a disability. In this case, we are specifically looking at learning disabilities, and the programs that support students who have a diagnosis. If you are still wondering:what are some college programs for students with intellectual disabilities?- click on the links in the program descriptions above. Each school we have written about focuses on something a little different, but within this list, there is surely a program that will meet your needs. You may also be wondering: Can students with intellectual or learning disabilities go to college online? The answer is yes, absolutely. However, as you can see from some of the programs we have written about, it might be helpful for students with intellectual and learning disabilities to have a more intensive face-to-face experience. Many of the aforementioned program opportunities give students a point person that they check in with multiple times per week. This level of accountability and contact can be a game changer for students who need a little extra support to get through a program. You will also see that many offerings on this list have a peer component as well, giving students sometimes required and sometimes optional avenues to connect with their classmates in a similar situation. This can be a game changer socially, enabling students with learning disabilities to feel less isolated in their education. There are studies that show how much better students with disabilities learn when they are connected to a larger community and are able to access more resources on campus.
Another question that comes up a lot is: are colleges required By law to accommodate students with dyslexia? The answer is complex. While the ADA enforces the legislation that any institution of higher learning must provide “reasonable accommodations” for students with disabilities of all kinds, the concept of “reasonable disabilities” can be murky and not well defined. There are many learning interventions that are ubiquitous on college campuses that can support students with a variety of disabilities. Some of the regular accommodations include:
In class note takers
Apps and adaptive technologies that are tailored to the needs of students with specific disabilities (this can include voice to text or time keepers)
Disability resource centers that meet a variety of needs
Longer test taking times
The schools on this list, however, believe that offering effective accommodations for students with disabilities is an improvement to the fabric of the entire institution. These are all schools who are aware of the ways that neurodiversity makes the community more rich and vibrant. Many of them train allys to tutor students with learning disabilities and learn skills around advocacy. This puts the responsibility on the entire institution to ensure that everyone has what they need to learn effectively. Some of the schools on this list specifically have programming that is geared towards supporting students with dyslexia. They are up-to-date on the latest research and technology regarding best practices for the ways students with dyslexia learn. They also provide students with experts and advisors who are versed in what it is like to live with this particular learning difference. Overall, disability accommodations are growing as are the student populations that feel that they can come out of the shadows and disclose their disability status. Programs like these offer students the opportunity to believe in their own ability to learn and be successful academically and within the career path that they choose.
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