If you have a rising high-school senior living in your house this summer, she or he is probably (hopefully) starting to plan a strategy for choosing which colleges to apply to. By this time in mid-summer, after having a discussion about what is feasible and affordable, your child:
- Should know that he wants to go to college.
- Should have a good idea whether she wants a large university, a small college, or something in-between.
- Should know whether he wants to be close to home or further away.
- Should know the names of the schools he is interested in. (Most colleges and universities have online virtual tours. Your child should be watching them. And taking notes.)
- Should be visiting schools of interest as we speak (or already visited them).
- Should know if the SAT and ACT need to be taken/repeated and what the dates of future tests are. Ditto the SAT subject tests.
- Should know which teachers will be asked to write letters of recommendation and be prepared to request them on the first day of school.
- Should be organizing and updating his profile/bio/resume.
Time goes fast. Applications need to be started and submitted, essays written and submitted, and financial aid applications completed and submitted, all during a very busy first semester.
For students who have had a parent serve as an “academic coach” throughout their school career (making sure assignments are done, tests studied for, homework completed), inquiring about available academic support for your student would be a good idea before applying.
For the ten percent of students with learning differences who will be graduating next spring and attending college in the fall, the National Center For Learning Disabilities (NCLD) has created a checklist for students and parents to help them choose the best school for them. Some of the questions are obvious:
Is there a specialized program for students with LD? Do I want/need the supports of such program?
Most students who have had individual educational plans (IEP’s) will need such a program at their college. That program should probably have “academic coaching” as a big part of it, since organization and efficiency of learning are not strong points for most kids with learning disabilities.
Other questions on the checklist may not be so obvious:
Must I be admitted to the college through a regular admissions process before applying to the LD program? Does the LD program also consider students not accepted through regular admissions?
What specific documentation of my LD is required? Will documentation need to be updated each year? If so, at what cost?
If your child has had an IEP in the past, and aspects of that IEP will be needed in college (in other words, academic support is required), then you should expect the college will require documentation of a recent psychoeducational evaluation by an acceptable (to the individual school) psychologist. Remember: the IEP does not follow your child to college.
The final page of the checklist should be part of every future college student’s summer preparation before applying to college. Time is short. The next 13 months are going to go fast.
View NCLD checklist here.
More about learning disabilities on The PediaBlog here.