LD: To Disclose or Not to Disclose: That Is the Question

Nearly every week a student or two will ask me if they should disclose their learning disability to a college admission counselor. Generally speaking, students don’t want to give a college any reason to generate any preconceived notions about them.  Even though colleges have come a long way in terms of understanding and accommodating learning differences, most people don’t understand the varied range of learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, processing disorders or ADHD.  As a result, some students simply don’t want to risk the possibility that an uninformed individual will review their applications.  Other students, however, see good reason for disclosure.  They want to actively pursue accommodations at the college level, and they may view disclosing their LD as an opportunity to provide an explanation of something unusual on their transcripts.

Your student may want to disclose a disability, however, if he meets the following criteria:

  • He enrolled in some special education classes in high school.  Official transcripts will list all resource, support or special education classes.
  • He did not take all of the high school classes that a college requires for admission, such as a foreign language, and the college is willing to waive those requirements for LD students.
  • Your student’s grades were consistently lower as a result of his learning disability.
  • His learning disability was identified later in his high school career, and his grades noticeably improved after it was identified.
  • Your student’s learning disability contributed to the classes and activities he pursued in high school.  An explanation of the classes will help an admissions officer better understand him as a student.

Ready to disclose your secret identity?  Check back tomorrow. I’ll share some advice about how to disclose your learning difference.

Heather Creech
Educational Consultant

Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

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  1. Heather: While I agree that it is often advantageous for students to disclose during the application process, it should be noted that not all high schools designate special ed classes or resource classes on the high school transcript. The high schools in our area do not. It is important for students to know that they do not need to disclose their LD to Admissions in order to receive accommodations in college. Once they have been accepted, they request accommodations and services through the Office of Disability Services.

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