One in five students in the United States experience learning disabilities, such as ADHD or dyslexia, that make learning in a traditional classroom setting difficult. Despite this common issue, college and university classrooms are still largely set up in the same teaching formats that have been used for decades–powerpoint lectures, notes, homework assignments, and tests. Fortunately, many colleges have systems in place to aid and support students with learning disabilities.
We rounded up 20 schools that have implemented programs for students with learning disabilities, optimizing students’ potential and providing students with the resources and support they need to thrive in a college academic setting. Some of these programs are structured/proactive programs, while others are self-directed and decentralized. The type of program that will work best for an individual depends on the way in which the student learns best.
Cost: $20,290 in tuition per semester
Beacon College is a university that exclusively serves students with learning disabilities. With associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs designed for students who learn differently, Beacon College has a 70 percent on-time graduation rate, which is well above the national average rate for students diagnosed with learning disabilities. The Center for Student Success provides students with learning specialists, peer tutors, study groups, a math lab, a writing center, life coaching, counseling, and career development services.
“My Beacon education has helped me in the outside world by teaching me time management skills and how to work with people different from me.” – Jacob Arlington, graduate from Beacon College
Cost: No fee in addition to tuition for disability services. Summer program fee is $5,630.
Landmark College is known for being intensely dedicated to all students who learn differently. Support services are “integrated into the curriculum” and the Academic Support Center provides subject-specific assistance to students. Students have access to executive function coaching, a pet therapy program, educational technology, social pragmatics services, and health and counseling services. There is also a summer program available to help lessen the stress of the transition into college.
“It’s a multitude of options for students. There’s the level of support at the Drake Center, but there’s also support like students going to the office hours of their teachers. And then all students have advisors, and the thing about coaching that’s different is that’s something that a student chooses to do in addition to working with their advisor weekly.” – Ruth Wilmot, Executive Function Coach at Landmark College
Cost: Single payment of $14,050 in addition to tuition.
Under the Program for Academic Learning Skills, or PALS, at Hofstra University, students have access to staff members, academic advisers, graduate assistants/students, learning disability specialists, remediation/learning specialists, skill tutors, and strategy tutors. Students work one-on-one with a learning specialist once per week. The learning specialist works with students on their learning strategies, time management, and executive function skills. PALS students may receive classroom accommodations through Student Access Services.
Cost: $4,730 per semester for the Learning Resource Program, $4,265 per semester for the Bridges to Adelphi program in addition to tuition.
Adelphi University’s Learning Resource Program pairs students with educators and counselors to assess the student’s needs. Academic advisors and tutors are available to students. Priority registration and support groups are also available. The Bridges to Adelphi program provides specialized support to students with autism.
“The LR Program at Adelphi University truly made a difference in my life and I would not be the person I am today without it. This has gotten me to realize that I want to help others with the same worries I had over 20 years ago.” – Jim Rowley, a former student enrolled in the Adelphi University Learning Resource Program.
Cost: No fee in addition to tuition
The Learning Center at UNC Chapel Hill provides classroom accommodations for students who register their needs with the Office of Accessibility Resources and Service. Students can make appointments with an academic coach at this office as well to work through what their needs may be. The Learning Center hosts study and coaching groups and workshops, and provides videos and handouts. Information about other campus resources is also provided; these resources include: accessibility resources, peer tutoring, a writing center, counseling and health services, academic advising, course substitutions, help centers, and study spaces.
Cost: Not specified
The Marshall University Higher Education for Learning Problems Center, or H.E.L.P. center, provides students with academic advisers, coaches, diagnostic specialists, graduate assistants/students, learning disability specialists, professional tutors, remediation/learning specialists, skill tutors, and strategy tutors. The center provides seven divisions for various students and needs: College H.E.L.P., Medical H.E.L.P., Community H.E.L.P., Skills Development, Summer Prep, and Diagnostic Services for students with learning disabilities.
“Without the H.E.L.P. Program I would not be here at Marshall. The services they offer are so helpful, and I feel as though the H.E.L.P. Program has prepared me for the future.” – Kathryn, a H.E.L.P. Program student at Marshall University.
Cost: $1,200 per semester for Upper Division Students, $2,800 per semester for Lower Division Students in addition to tuition.
The University of Arizona Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques program, or SALT program, provides students with strategic learning specialists, tutoring sessions, workshops, psychological services, and educational technology solutions. The program also hosts social events for students to learn from and get to know one another.
“The first person I think of when I think of the SALT center is my learning specialist. I go to her to help me organize my time and plan out my days and figure out times that are good to eat, to study, to hang out with friends…What’s wonderful about the SALT Center is if you’re confused about something that you missed in class and you don’t quite understand the concept, you come here and you make a tutoring appointment and having that one-on-one time to discuss with the tutor, someone who knows this information, helps solidify these concepts that you learn in class. They provide an environment of understanding and support and help.” – Thea Moresco, sophomore at the University of Arizona.
Cost: Not specified
The Jones Learning Center at the University of the Ozarks is designed for students with learning disabilities, including ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder. Academic support coordinators meet individually with students daily; peer tutors and note takers are available to students; skill specialist assist students in specific areas; and students have access to assistive technology.
“Both the students and professors are very welcoming here. It is a very close-knit community where academic and social support are always available when I need them. The JLC tutors, note takers, and coordinators have helped me to go from asking, ‘What can I do?’ to ‘What can’t I do?’ and are helping me to construct a plan for the rest of my life.” – Anne Sterba, former JLC student at the University of the Ozarks.
Cost: The Mentor Advantage Program costs $800-$2,200 per semester in addition to tuition depending on the student’s level of need.
The West Virginia Wesleyan College Learning Center Disability Support provides students with learning disabilities with a comprehensive advisor who works with a student to accommodate needs, and acts as a mentor throughout the student’s time at college. Students also receive weekly one-on-one academic strategy guidance, an accommodation plan, preferential registration, extended time and separate test-taking locations as needed, tutoring, an alternative textbook format if needed, and access to study groups. The Mentor Advantage Program is also offered to students who need more structured guidance.
10. Daemen College
Cost: $2,000 per semester
The College Autism Transition Support program, or CATS program, is specifically for students on the autism spectrum. The program is designed to help students build academic skills as well as personal and professional skills. Students work with a life skills coach who works with students on life skills specific to the student’s needs. Coaches help students identify their passions and resources such as clubs or sports that they can utilize to expand on these passions. Students also receive support in their career search, with resume, cover letter, and job search assistance as well as help with interview preparation.
Cost: The Center for Students with Disabilities offers free resources, aside from the fee-based learning specialist clinician services.
The DePaul University Center for Students with Disabilities provides students with testing and classroom accommodations including braille, adaptive equipment, closed caption real-time translation, exam proctoring in a distraction-reduced environment, priority registration, assistive technology, and more. Students can also access learning specialist clinician services, where learning specialist clinicians work with students on their “executive functioning skills and self-advocacy strategies”.
12. Ursuline College
Cost: FOCUS Stage 1 is $760 per semester, FOCUS Stage 2 is $1450 per semester, FOCUS Stage 3 is $2000 per semester, and FOCUS Stage 4 is $400 per semester. Fees are in addition to tuition.
The FOCUS program at Ursuline College provides students with accommodations like note takers, testing accommodations, and alternative textbook formats. Students choose which FOCUS phase will best fit their needs, as each level includes different levels of involvement. All stages include one-on-one coaching with a disability specialist.
Cost: No fee
The UC Irvine Disability Service Center allows students to request accommodations and alternative instructional material, such as notes provided by other students. The center also provides information about health and wellness resources, a service that transports students with mobility issues around campus, and allows students to report accessibility issues.
Cost: No fee
Ashland University’s Center for Academic Support provides accommodations and accessibility options to students. Accommodations include the option to take tests in a distraction-reduced area, with extra time, and with assistive technologies. Classroom accommodations are also available. Advising, tutoring, and the writing center is also available for student use.
15. Mitchell College
Cost: Tier 1 is $3800 per semester, Tier 2 is $2515 per semester, and Tier 3 is $1260 per semester. Fees are in addition to tuition.
The Bentsen Learning Center at Mitchell College provides students with one-on-one support to help students develop skills such as self-advocacy, time management, organization, comprehension, writing, research, study skills, and test prep. The program involves three tiers, the first tier offering the most support and the third tier offering the least. In the first tier of the program, students meet with a learning specialist three times per week to build these skills and address other concerns or needs the student may have. As students build the ability to maintain these learned skills on their own, they choose to receive less support in tiers two or three.
Cost: One-time fee of $4,850 in addition to tuition.
American University provides a Learning Services Program for first-year students with learning disabilities. During the program students individually meet weekly with the program coordinator or program counselor, are enrolled in a reserved first-year writing course and meet weekly with a writing tutor, receive individual academic advising, and meet with a peer mentor. After students complete the program, they can continue to use the Academic Support and Access Center by way of testing and classroom accommodations and other necessary resources.
Cost: $1,800 per semester for one meeting per week, $3,600 per semester for three meetings per week. Fees are in addition to tuition.
The Beyond Access Program at the University of Connecticut pairs students with learning disabilities with a strategy instructor who meets once per week or three times per week with students, depending on their level of need. Strategy instructors work with students to build important skills: time management and organization, study skills, stress management, self-advocacy, memory and concentration, social skills, career prep, health and wellness, and reading and writing strategies. Strategy instructors also put students in touch with resources like accommodations and health services.
Cost: $2,900 per semester in addition to tuition.
Northeastern University’s Learning Disability Services program pairs students with a LDP specialist with whom they meet with twice per week to build skills and address needs. Specialists work with students on their academic skills, self-regulated learning, and academic mindset. Subject area tutoring and accommodations are also provided.
Cost: $1,350 per quarter in addition to tuition.
The Learning Effectiveness Program at the University of Denver provides students with weekly academic counseling, subject-specific tutoring, executive functioning support services, social skills building resources, and peer mentoring. The program focuses on the “Four Cornerstones of LEP Student Development”: Self-Awareness, Self-Advocacy, Accountability, and Self-Determination. Students can also receive testing and classroom accommodations.
“Everyone here at the program, that’s their job and their focus is to make sure that you’re getting the most out of it and they want you to succeed and you really feel that when you come in.” – Genevieve McNally, LEP student at the University of Denver.
Cost: Not specified
The Roosevelt University Disability Services Program provides resources for students with learning disabilities. Accommodations provided are at the request of a student, and students are worked with individually to provide accommodations on a case-by-case basis.