Applying to college or university? Congratulations! But you might be anxious about what impact your dysgraphia might have in college compared to high school. Let’s break down what you need to know:
Before you go:
Pretty much every college/university in the U.S. is required by law to provide accommodations to students with documented disabilities. Most of the coordination for accommodations happens through a specific office on campus, usually called access and disability services or resources.
You can get accommodations for college tests like the SAT and ACT but start the process early.
The ACT recently changed its rules in 2021 so now it accepts accommodations that are on IEP and 504 plans. You will need to work with your school and information on the process can be found HERE.
For the PSAT, SAT, and AP Exams, just having an IEP at school is not enough. You have to apply through the College Board and have documentation. Find all the information HERE. A few helpful tips:
Early means early. Think spring requests for fall testing.
You can apply as a freshman in high school and use the accommodations for all related tests (PSAT, SAT, APs)
There are other paths but the easiest way is through your school and their Services for Students with Disabilities coordinator.
Finding The Right School
Do your homework on the schools where you plan to apply. Find ones that seem like a fit for you. Consider factors like academics, size of the school, in a city or on a campus, and how much support they provide for learning differences -- some schools have special support programs that may be a huge help during your college experience.
Once you have a list of colleges you might want to apply to, check their websites to see what services they offer and what requirements they might have. For example, they may require certain types of documentation of your dysgraphia. They might also require you to alert them to your needs as soon as you get accepted and decide to go, so that they will be ready for you by the time you arrive on campus. And in general, you should make sure that the schools you are looking to attend offer support that you feel confident about.
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Once you are there:
Figure out your classes. By now, you may have already thought about what you want to study but your school probably also has course requirements outside of your area of study. Unless you already have decided to focus on computer science, math, engineering, or other physical sciences, writing is often a big part of college.
If there are courses that have a lot of writing requirements, get support early. Talk to the access and disability services office about getting a notetaker or about recording lectures. Talk to your professor about getting copies of lecture slides, if he or she hasn’t given them out already. There are resources to help with papers/essays that can help you get organized too.
In addition to disability services, most schools offer help to all students who want to improve their studying, writing, and note-taking skills. Your school may offer peer-mentoring or academic skills tutors, study skills classes, and other seminars that can help all students learn better. Don’t be afraid to use them!