Sometimes families wrestle with this very difficult decision and decide it’s in their best interest not to share a diagnosis with a college admissions counselor. And every single time I think it’s a respectable, thoughtful decision. But from that point on, I advise those same families of the benefits and advantages of disclosing a learning disability once a student has been admitted. Following are the most important reasons:
- Disclosure provides legal protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Without a discloser, he is unprotected, despite that fact that he has a diagnosed disability.
- Students who are coming from a supportive, structure high school environment with lower expectations and a lighter workload will likely struggle to navigate the college system without some sort of guidance. Students who decide to remain “independent” in the first semester of college often struggle and end up with less than satisfactory grades. Disclosure makes your student eligible for accommodations such as extra time, a note-taker, and a distraction-free testing environment. The identification and use of these accommodations increase the likelihood of academic success.
- Disclosure may give your student the opportunity to enroll in fewer classes while still being considered a full-time student for insurance purposes. If you suspect your student isn’t ready to handle a full course load, and the psycho-educational testing supports this, your student may be able to add “Reduced Course Load” to his list of accommodations.
There is no doubt that the disclosure decision is a very personal one for students and their families. So if you’re still wrestling with revealing your “secret identity”, it’s best to contact the Disability Services Office at all of the colleges you’re interested in and ask them directly.