Accommodations & Special Needs

How Accommodations for Students Help the College Admission Process

I received my first degree in Special Education from Hood College in Maryland. I worked primarily with students who learn differently, providing each of them with an individualized education plan, chairing meetings with parents and professionals, testing students, writing up detailed reports, and suggesting accommodations.

Although I left that profession for work as a school counselor, I continued to be an integral part of a school’s student services team, including chairing most 504 meetings and attending many IEP meetings. Families considering college for their student who learns differently should definitely make sure the student’s IEP or 504 Plan is annually reviewed and up to date throughout high school.

IEPs and 504 plans greatly support kids during the college admissions process and through the college experience. I strongly advise students to take their most recent IEP or 504 plan to their college of choice and request that these services also be provided at the college. When that is successfully accomplished, IEP and 504 accommodations carry over into the college experience.


Accommodations & Special Needs
Accommodations & Special Needs
For this to happen, any testing used to determine the learning difference or 504 plan should be updated within 3 years of the student’s graduation. That guarantees that any student in their sophomore year with either an IEP or a 504 plan will automatically be given accommodations for the ACT or SAT testing which can greatly support a student throughout the college admission process and beyond.

Most families and students have questions about this often-complicated process. Listed below are some of the most frequently-asked questions and my answers

What’s required for ADHD accommodations (or other accommodations like autism or anxiety) for college admission

This is a great question that will require two different answers.

If your student’s academic progress has been impacted by their ADHD or Autism then usually this student has been referred early in their educational career for neuropsychological testing.

This testing includes an educational evaluation as well as an assessment that measures a child’s intellectual ability as well as five cognitive domains that impact performance. Depending on the outcome of the testing, a student could receive either an IEP or a 504 plan. Both are reviewed annually.

Some students with ADD, ADHD, Autism, Depression or Anxiety achieve well academically until either middle school or high school. Each student is considered for testing on a case-by-case basis.

If the student is continuing, for the most part, to do well academically, the student would then be considered for a 504 plan, which only provides accommodations.

A family would need to discuss their concerns with their family’s doctor, who may do additional assessments. If the doctor concurs with the family’s concerns, a 504 meeting will be held and an accommodation plan will be written and reviewed annually.

Accommodations & Special Needs
Accommodations & Special Needs

What Accommodations For Students Can You Help Me With?

I can’t offer any accommodations for students. Accommodations can only be offered by a school and have to be in writing. What I can do is review your current IEP and/or 504 plan and offer suggested changes that would best support your child to thrive academically.

I can also work with your child to support them in becoming their own best advocate. This is an important skill that, in my experience, most teenagers don’t have and will definitely need in college when mom, dad or both are less present in their daily lives.

What Accommodations Best Support A Student In Taking The Sat Or Act?

Great question. Most IEP and 504 plans offer the accommodation of extended time for testing. This usually translates to time + 50%, which means, for example, that the SAT would be 5 hours and 25 minutes long, as opposed to 3 hours and 15 minutes.

In my experience most students don’t take advantage of all the time offered to them so helping students to learn early on to utilize all the time available is important.

Other accommodations for testing could include:

● Having the test read to a student (for students who learn better auditorily.)
● Sitting in the front of the room to better hear and understand directions.

As a former special education teacher and school counselor, my knowledge of the IEP and 504 process and the impact it has on college admissions’ is extensive.

If you have a student who has these concerns, it is very important that you find someone who understands the special education process as well as college admissions.

Contact me to explore how I can support both you and your student through this process.

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