This post is part of a series on Preparing Students With Dyslexia Find College Success. To read the entire series from the beginning, click here.
Not all kids want or need to go straight to a 4-year university after high school. There are many options available. If you have a child nearing high school graduation, it is important to know what viable options are out there for their foray into the adult world and help them to choose the best fit for your unique child.
Dyslexic learners have been attending and graduating from college for as long as college has been around. With the right skills, accommodations, and campus support, college is all the more doable for the dyslexic student. Take a lesson from your dyslexic learners who are prone to think outside the box and don’t be afraid to think outside the box when you are choosing from the many options available for pursuing education after high school.
Most people think of going straight to a four-year university right out of high school as the best option for their kids, but there are actually many options. The best choice for your student is unique to your family situation.
Post Grad Year
A Post Grad year should not be confused with a Gap Year which will be covered next. A Post Grad year refers to an extra year of high school that is sometimes taken at a freestanding boarding school. The purpose of a Post Grad Year is to give students time to improve academically or emotionally. If your child is enrolled in a public or private school, they will have earned their high school diploma before taking their Post Grad studies.
For homeschoolers, this may involve working with your homeschool group to rearrange credits allowing for essentially a fifth year of high school. This entails pushing back 9th-grade credits onto the 8th-grade year and proceeding with another year of high school.
This growing trend has the benefit of giving your student more time to prepare for the SAT or ACT, time to mature, and time to practice more of the skills needed for the transition from high school to college.
A Gap Year is when a student applies to college but defers attendance for one year. Usually, this time is used to explore interests or gain meaningful work experience.
There are actually Gap Year programs that are designed with this type of student in mind. These programs provide different opportunities for travel and service for the student who wants time to expand their perspective and gain direction that may give the college years more meaning and focus.
Community colleges may be the right route for your student. The benefits to choosing a Community College straight out of high school (or even after a Gap or Post Grad year) are:
- There is no SAT or ACT test requirement. This should not be your main reason for choosing the Community College. There are accommodations available for students with dyslexia and more and more colleges will waive the SAT requirement for these students as well. We’ll talk more about how to get accommodations for college entrance exams tomorrow.
- Provides time for remediation if needed. Community college students can take remedial level courses in math and english if needed while at the same time getting used to the changes and new responsibilities of being a college student.
- Schedules tend to be more flexible with more classes being offered in the evenings.
- The cost of tuition is considerably less which can alleviate pressure to graduate quickly. This allows time to take a lighter course load and to switch majors if your student is not quite sure in which direction he or she is headed.
- Many community colleges have partnered with local universities to make transferring straightforward.
Colleges Exclusively for Students With Learning Disabilities
All colleges are required by law to provide some level of support for students with documented (recent psycho-educational testing) learning struggles. These services are provided by the Office of Student Services. We talked more about the different types of college support programs last week. There are a few colleges that are specifically set up for the student with dyslexia. These colleges provide the highest level of support for dyslexic students than other colleges.
Beacon College is an accredited college in Leesburg, Florida that offers traditional classes and curriculums, but they design each class in a way where dyslexic students learn and excel. Beacon College offers both Associate’s Degrees and Bachelor’s Degrees.
Landmark College in Putney, Vermont is also an accredited college that offers various Associate Degrees. Landmark takes the approach of teaching students the skills and strategies necessary for success in college and the workforce.
This list is full of links to regular Colleges with Programs for Learning Disabled Students. While these colleges are not devoted entirely to students with learning disabilities, they do offer programs designed to support students with learning disabilities.
Four-Year College or University
The traditional route for many high school graduates is to go straight to a 4-year University. As I said before, all colleges are required to provide some level of support for students with disabilities. Last week we looked at the skills needed for college success, the types of college support programs available, and how to find the right college. Tomorrow we will look at understanding the application process and later this week financial aid and scholarships for students with learning disabilities.
Alternatives to College
With the growing concern over the lack of jobs available to recent college grads and the shocking statistics of crippling college loan debt, wise parents will consider alternatives to a traditional 4-year (or more) college degree. I will dedicate an entire blog post to alternatives to college later this week, but for now, here are four ideas to get you thinking:
Certification programs are available through community colleges, free-standing for-profit schools, or corporate programs. These programs vary in price and length of study but they all offer specific training to do a specific job such as medical assistant, information technology, photography, film, and many other fields.
More and more employers are looking for this 2-year degree often offered by the local community college. On average, people with an associate degree earn 24% more than those with a high school diploma alone. These degrees usually result in a career-oriented skill such as nursing, or business and information technology.
Trade schools allow students to learn basic, professional skills in two years or less. Trade schools eliminate the general-ed type of courses and get right to the core skills needed to get a job.
Start a Business
Not all business owners have a college degree, in fact, many people who don’t necessarily make a good traditional student also make some of the best entrepreneurs because of their passion and people skills – two of the most important things to have in a successful business.
I hope that you find this information as valuable as I did as I researched it for my own family of dyslexic kids. I hope you are beginning to see that as you begin to plan and prepare for the college years there are not only many helps available but also many options.
Join us tomorrow when we”ll be talking about How to Get Accommodations on College Entrance Exams.