Expert Answers to Your College Application Questions


Susan asked: My daughter was diagnosed with a form of dyslexia and has been part of the Learning Center at her private school. She holds her own in a school with many high-achievers! Her GPA and ACT scores though reflect her struggles. She has a 2.94 GPA and a 24 in her ACTs. She is a leader in community service at her school and has been part of peer tutoring for the middle school -- she gets math! My question, that no one can definitively answer, is should she tell colleges about her learning differences or should she wait to get acceptances then seek help once she is in the college? It seems deceptive not to say something but then again will it impact her chances? Thank you.

Norman answered: First, disclosing a disability during the admissions process is in no way a guarantee that the student will receive services once on-campus. So even if she discloses, she needs to connect with the Office of Disability Services prior to enrollment to ensure that she qualifies for and receives services. As for whether to disclose, it's difficult for me to answer, given the very limited information I have about your daughter.

My guess is that your daughter's college search includes a close look at the disabilities services at each school, and that you are looking for a place that will not only accommodate, but also be accepting of your daughter. In theory, if your daughter has a diagnosed disability and she receives all the accommodations she needs, then that would compensate for the deficits, and her performance is then representative of her actual ability. If, however, her disabilities have significantly impacted her grades and her course selection (even after accommodations are taken into account), then I would disclose. My feeling is that if the fact that she has a learning disability turns off the school, chances are it's not the right place for your daughter in the first place.

Carole asked: My son, who's a high-school senior, is dyslexic. He attends a great K-12 private school in Atlanta and has excelled in many areas, including student government president, newspaper senior editior, senior peer leader (highest honor in school where 14 selected seniors mentor the freshman), lead actor in many plays, plays bongos in the chapel band, plays keyboard in a "out of school band," Bible study leader, mock trial, etc. His school often asks him to be the one to speak at Open Houses as he is an amazing public speaker. He believes being dyslexic is actually a gift, as he sees things through a very creative eye. He is not one to ever tell people he is dyslexic, though, and is a very humble person who tries hard not to have attention drawn to him. He does receive an extra time accommodation on all tests which he desperately needs it. He wants to major in film production and plans to apply to many schools, but his top choices are NYU and USC -- two very competitive schools. His grades, though, aren't perfect. He has a 3.3 out of 4.0, but has taken many honor classes and three AP classes, so he is taking a rigorous schedule. He made a 31 on the ACT, which is good. Would talking about dyslexia be a good topic or one to avoid? Should it be part of his personal essay or not? Any suggestions are helpful. Thank you so much.

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