It wasn't long ago that high school students, diagnosed with a Learning Disability -- such as ADHD or Dyslexia -- would go out of their way to avoid any reference to their educational challenges when applying to college. Indeed, many students, throughout their elementary and secondary school careers, would not even seek out professional help, this for fear of being labeled as "LD."

My, how things have changed, and dare I say, for the better.

In this age of transparency and candor -- not to mention diversity (though I will) -- the college-bound, and their parents, are more apt to at least note in passing that diagnosis of Learning Disability -- in seeking out extra help, asking for more time or special accommodations on standardized tests, and, yes, in applying to college.

Some astute students, and certainly those parents who "get it," will actually take this new-found openness a step further -- noting, in an essay, a letter, or as "additional information," the diagnosis of ADHD, Dyslexia, processing issues, or some combination thereof (as is commonly the case). 

Are such students and parents gluttons for punishment (in a Gluten-free obsessed world)? Not quite. Some make mention in order to explain low test scores or underperformance in certain academic areas. Others may be looking for a sympathetic ear (or eye, as the applications are being read).

The truly smart students and parents, however, look beyond the obvious, realizing that in this era where diversity often counts for more than GPA and SAT score combined, coming forward with a diagnosis of a Learning Disability on the college application -- particularly where the school offers special programs or resources -- could, in truth, work to the students' advantage in the admissions process.

Yes, diversity is no longer limited to race, creed, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or whether you come from a small town high school in Iowa. And to all those who shake their heads at that question on the application which asks, "Are you Hispanic?," take heart. Diversity comes in many forms -- including the admission of students who are, to one degree or another, Learning Disabled.

Okay. "Perhaps being Learning Disabled will help me get in to college. But how will I make it through college?" Great question. And the answer lies in the many colleges and universities that go above and beyond in serving the special needs of students with Learning Disabilities. From full-fledged programs to a host of resources geared to aid and assist (without anyone slapping a sign on your back, "Kick Me. I've Got ADHD"), colleges are stepping up to the plate to help the growing number of students who face the hurdles in the way they learn and process information.

For just a brief look at a short list of colleges that have taken up the cause, and some of the programs and resources that are available on campus, CLICK HERE. For more information, check out the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

In my practice as a college planning counselor, I work with students across the spectrum. From those at the top of the class who are Ivy-bound or headed to the most selective colleges, to others who struggle daily to overcome the challenges of disabilities, there is a perfect fit for almost everyone. Don't let a disability or a disadvantage, real or perceived, stand in the way of your going to college!
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