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Question #23:
  • I have a learning disability. I went to a private school, took all the required courses and credits. However, I did not pass my High School Exit exam and received a Specialized Education Diploma. Now I am having difficulties in getting into college. Please help!
Answer #23:
  • Colleges are forbidden to discriminate against students with learning disabilities. You need to have your case manager (perhaps the SPED teacher at your old high school?) write a detailed description of your academic strengths and weaknesses.
    Many states do provide free tuition for students with disabilities, and you should contact your State Department of Education and tell them about the terrible position they have put you in. Contact your local Learning Disabilities Association chapter and find out how you can get an advocate to help you understand the rules and regulations in your State. Locate your local chapter through the Learning Disabilities Association of America.
    Find out how the State recognizes your Exit exam. If it is not considered competitive, ask what you can do to bring it to the level they require. Don't back down. Perhaps you can meet the requirements for a GED, which is recognized by all institutions of higher learning.
    You will have to be extremely persistent to encourage officials to recognize and remediate your dilemma, but it will be worth it. Document every thing you do and keep a record of every conversation.
    LD simply signifies a different way of learning. It certainly does not mean you cannot learn. Also, if you investigate some coursework at a local community college, you might be able to take a course and show the "powers that be" that you possess the ability to perform academically at a college level.
    Some students with learning disabilities and/or attention deficits benefit from a 13th year in a prep-school setting (post-graduate year or PG-13). Such a year could fill in your deficits and help you earn a bona fide high school diploma. Other students do extremely well if they can spend some time at Landmark College, which teaches students with learning differences to advocate for their needs and helps them move on to other schools.
    If this process sounds too daunting, you should contact an educational consultant experienced in assisting students with LD. You can find a listing of certified educational consultants in your area by searching the IECA Internet site. You could also use the EDUFAX services for the LD Student.
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