Top Colleges for Kids with Learning Disabilities or ADHD

Date: December 1, 2011      Publication: Bottom Line Personal      Source: Imy  Wax      Print:

If you have a child with a learning disability (LD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may wonder how he/she will make it through college. Schools are required to offer support if they accept federal funds, but the amount and type of support vary dramatically.

Here, eight schools with strong programs for LD/ADHD students…

CURRY COLLEGE is a four-year private college in Milton, Massachusetts, just minutes from Boston. Its Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL) is for LD/ADHD students. Students applying through PAL are not required to submit SAT or ACT scores. The program includes a special three-credit three-week summer session to help ease incoming LD/ADHD students’ transition to college. PAL students receive extremely strong support during their first year of college in particular, including regular meetings with specially trained instructors and help with homework. It’s a great program for students who need extensive support but could be too much for more independent LD/ADHD students. (Around 2,000 undergraduate students. $30,700 tuition plus $12,285 room and board. 617-333-0500,

DEAN COLLEGE is a private college in Franklin, Massachusetts, about 35 miles southwest of Boston and 20 miles north of Providence. The college provides a range of excellent support options for LD/ADHD students. Its Personalized Learning Services offers extensive tutoring…its Arch Learning Community offers intensive academic skill development…and its Pathway Learning Community offers small class sizes and individual attention. Additional fees of $800 to $4,000 per semester apply to these programs. The college offers mostly two-year programs, but it has an agreement with other colleges and universities that allows Dean College students who meet certain academic requirements to transition seamlessly and earn four-year degrees. (Around 1,000 full-time undergraduate students. $30,570 tuition plus $13,050 room and board. 877-879-3326,

LANDMARK COLLEGE is a two-year private college in the rural small town of Putney in southern Vermont. It is one of the few accredited colleges in the country specifically designed for LD/ADHD students. Rather than simply provide students with accommodations and resources that minimize the impact of their LD/ADHD, Landmark focuses on teaching students to overcome their disabilities so that they can transfer to four-year schools for their last two years of college. Landmark also is notable for its very small class sizes and customized tutorial and coaching programs. (Around 450 undergraduate students. $48,210 tuition plus $8,620 room and board. 802-387-6718,

LYNN UNIVERSITY is a four-year private university in Boca Raton, a town on Florida’s Gold Coast, roughly an hour north of Miami—the campus is about three miles from the ocean. It offers its excellent Comprehensive Support Program to LD/ADHD students. The program provides individual tutoring, study strategy sessions, specialized classes and numerous other resources and accommodations. (More than 1,600 undergraduate students. $30,200 tuition plus $11,950 room and board. 800-888-5966,

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY CARBONDALE is a four-year public school in Carbondale, two hours southeast of St. Louis in southern Illinois. The campus is on the edge of the Shawnee National Forest. It offers its Achieve Program to LD/ADHD students. This program begins with a two-day diagnostic evaluation that helps the school fully understand participants’ learning disabilities and ensure that the students receive appropriate support. There is a $300 fee for this evaluation. Participants also receive extensive tutoring and access to resources including note takers, textbooks in audio format and remedial classes. (Around 16,500 undergraduate students. $7,794 in-state tuition, $19,485 out-of-state plus $8,648 room and board. 618-453-2121,

THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA is a four-year public university in downtown Tucson. The campus offers beautiful views of the nearby Santa Catalina Mountains. It also offers support for LD/ADHD students through its Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) program and Disability Resource Center (DRC). These programs provide extensive facilities, resources and support, but potential applicants should be aware that this is a huge school with very large class sizes. Thus Arizona is appropriate for LD/ADHD students who require only a few accommodations and some extra tutoring, but not for those who need extensive hand-holding, such as regular one-on-one time with professors. (Around 29,700 undergraduate students. $9,286 in-state tuition, $25,496 out-of-state plus $8,540 room and board. 520-621-2211,

THE UNIVERSITY OF DENVER is a four-year private university south of downtown Denver. It offers support customized to each LD/ADHD student’s specific needs through its wide-ranging Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP). Program participants receive ongoing one-on-one attention from counselors. These services come with an added fee of $3,000 per year. (Around 5,300 undergraduate students. $36,936 tuition plus $10,440 room and board. 303-871-2000,

THE UNIVERSITY OF INDIANAPOLIS is a four-year private university in a suburban neighborhood close to downtown Indianapolis. The university offers a program called Baccalaureate for University of Indianapolis Learning Disabled (BUILD) to its LD/ADHD students. BUILD participants receive a minimum of two hours of individualized tutoring per week. Special math and English courses are offered to students who otherwise might struggle to meet the university’s requirements in those areas. (Around 4,000 undergraduate students. $22,790 tuition plus $8,270 room and board. 800-232-8634,

Source: Imy Wax, MS, LCPC, CEP, licensed psychotherapist and educational consultant in Chicago and Deerfield, Illinois. She is coauthor of the K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Princeton Review).