The college search process can be a daunting task for any student, but even more so for a student with a learning challenge. Parents are often worried about how colleges will view their students’ grades and test scores in light of a learning disability, anxiety, depression or ADHD. As Independent Educational Consultants, we suggest that you begin by examining your student’s academic profile. Do their grades, test scores, and choice of coursework reflect their true academic abilities or has the learning disability or disabilities prevented them from achieving academic success? Were the accommodations put in place early enough in high school to impact grades and has the student benefitted by the accommodations? Has the student shown an upward progression in grades? These are just some of the many questions to consider when assisting your child. Parents also worry that their child does not understand their lack of executive functioning skills and how it affects their classroom performance, causing them to be highly distracted. In many cases these students have had a lot of assistance during high school with subject tutoring, learning specialists, and therapists to help manage anxiety, mood and motivation. It makes sense that they would need some outside help during their first year of college.
Although the first step is to examine the student’s transcript and test scores, this is not the only information that a college will review. If the student is able to articulate their understanding of their strengths and challenges, how it has impacted them, what they have learned about themselves and their accommodations, and how they plan to succeed in college, this will speak volumes to colleges. For students who have had numerous challenges in high school and have received accommodations that have helped them to be successful, the transition to high school can be much less stressful than their peers.
The next step is to help your student find supportive college environments where your student can grow and succeed. The level of support will be an important factor to consider when creating your initial list of colleges. When approaching the college search, remember that not all colleges will be equipped to support the needs of your student. It your child has a learning disability, you will need to be a savvy consumer who can recognize the differences as the level of support can vary widely from one school to another. You need to know how to distinguish the minimum supports offered from a more comprehensive model. The best way to begin is by searching on a college website for “disability support services.” Below, find a description of each type of college disability support programs from the most basic to increasingly expanding services.
Learning Support Programs in College
BASIC- By law, all colleges must comply by offering minimal services for student with disabilities. At this level there are no professional learning specialists on staff. The responsibility for reviewing documentation and awarding basic accommodations usually falls on the Dean of Students. There are no specific services for students with learning disabilities; students utilize the writing center, math center, and study skills assistance available to all students at the school.
MODERATE- Students with disabilities have their own dedicated Learning Center that serves their needs in addition to the writing center, math center and study skills center available to all students. This means that the disability support staff are Masters Level trained professionals who are well versed in the challenges of your students. These centers offer a much wider range of accommodations, assistive technology, and support to students, and may have professional tutors and coaches on staff.
COMPREHENSIVE- Students with disabilities not only have their own dedicated Learning Center, but an additional fee-based program is offered to those who need a structured learning program. Typically students meet weekly or biweekly with a professional who can help them with study skills, organizational skills, and time management and will address any difficulties that the student is having and advocate on behalf of the students. There is a separate application and review process for acceptance into these programs in addition to the admissions application.
When visiting colleges with your high school junior or senior, we suggest you include an appointment with the disabilities office on campus. Note that you and your student’s impressions as your student may be spending considerable time in the office and will need to feel comfortable. In addition, if your student will be applying to college in the next two years, we suggest learning more about the differences between the K-12 system and the college system for students with disabilities. There are significant differences between high school and college when it comes to applicable laws, documentation, self-advocacy and student responsibilities.
Differences Between High School and College for Students with Disabilities
Some of the most common challenges that can cause students to struggle significantly:
Types of Accommodations Offered in College
You need to determine what kinds of accommodations are available in college for your student’s particular disability. Here are a few of the most common accommodations that you will see in colleges. (These examples are from Colorado State Office of Disabilities)
For Students with ADHD
For Students with Anxiety
Flexible matriculation requirements including:
For Students with Dyslexia or Other Language Based/Auditory Processing Disorders
After your student has accepted the admissions offer, you may begin contacting the disabilities office for instructions on requesting accommodations. Each university will have a different process, but the most common practice is to submit the student’s psychoeducational report that includes their diagnosis, online or in person, at the first meeting with the disabilities office. The testing report must come from a licensed educational psychologist. Some colleges will accept an IEP but others may not and this will vary from school to school. The disability office will have an application link posted on their webpage. Students are encouraged to complete this paperwork as it is best for them to take the lead role in answering the questions about their challenges.
It is important for the student to understand the kinds of accommodations they may need and to document what has made the most impact at the high school level. Some of these questions will include a statement about the student’s diagnosis and how this impacts them in the classroom. Other questions directly ask which accommodations the student would like to request. For students who are coming from smaller private high schools, where the accommodations were built into the program, it may help to have a meeting with the learning center or with some of the teachers who offered them the flexibility to be successful. After paperwork is submitted, the student will schedule an appointment to meet with the director of the office of disabilities. We suggest a practice interview with students before the meeting to ensure that the student feels comfortable discussing their disability and its impact and advocating for the accommodations that they feel they need to be successful at the college level.
Timeline for success
The college search process and the transition to college can be difficult for even the most prepared student. For students with a variety of learning disabilities, there are many important factors to consider for assistance with the challenges ahead. With the guidance of an Independent Educational Consultant and your student’s educational support team, you and your child can choose from colleges that will be the best fit to support your individual student. We have addressed the types of learning support programs in college, the major differences your student will need to understand to navigate disability supports in college versus high school, the kinds of accommodations offered at colleges, key factors in ensuring your child’s success, and a timeline for success. Taking the time and effort to consider all of these factors ahead of time when putting together a college plan is the key to your child’s successful future. If you have difficulty deciphering the options, you may benefit from professional advisement from an independent college consultant who is familiar with the process and these programs.
Don’t Bury Your Head in the Sand
College planning can be daunting for some parents and teens. The key is to begin thinking about college preparation early in the process. This can mean carefully planning your curriculum in grades 9 and 10 and keeping a list of the students activities,honors and achievements. For a younger student, parents will want to help the child find a few extracurricular activities that their child can bring to the next level and develop a particular talent or strength. Colleges also look for volunteer service so it’s a good idea to get started on this early in freshman year. The most important part of college planning is being a good student and taking a challenging high school curriculum. Middle school will set the groundwork for this. By the time a student hits senior year he should have a full resume of activities,leadership and volunteer work on his resume. It’s a good idea to visit a few colleges during junior year to get a feel for campus location and size as well as the surrounding community. As an independent college counselor in San Diego I often see students coming in to meet with me as late as senior year and there is a lot of preparation to do in a very short time. For students who are interested in applying by November 1, they need to set aside more time in their schedule in order to do a good job on their applications.
Many juniors and seniors have not sat down with their parents to have an in-depth discussion about college. Families will want to discuss various factors such as cost and location as well as majors. The majority of students will begin these discussions during their junior year however some students are just getting organized in senior year. When this happens I highly suggest meeting with a college admissions consultant to help put a plan in place. While high school counselors will do their best to help answer questions, many of them do not have time to meet with students on a weekly basis to help them get organized and narrow down their options. This is where the help of an independent college counselor will be important.
A college admissions counselor has many years of experience working with high school students. We are trained in knowing how to create a college list and have in depth knowledge about majors and programs that are of interest to our students. Greenhaus College Consulting offers a 4 step process including personality testing that begins early in junior year. As a student is learning more about himself he will be better equipped to choose a school based on his personality and interests.
What do we mean when we say “Balanced College List”. Many students make the mistake of applying to mostly reach schools and not enough target and safety schools. We are advising you against doing this as it is not a good approach. A reach school denies more students than it accepts. These are schools with a 15-25% acceptance rate. Even if a student has over a 4.0 and perfect SAT scores can be turned down by one of these schools. The point is that you cannot use this school as a safety, even if you are a high level student with great stats. This is one of the biggest mistakes that students will make. A Balanced college list will have a few schools in each category.
Are you planning on applying to 20-30 colleges hoping that more is better? Stop yourself before you start because the admissions process does not work this way.
Students will be asked to write an essay for each of the schools they are applying to. If a student has visited the college, spoken to current alumni, and sat in on a class, they will have a very good idea of the campus climate that exists at this school. Providing that they are within reach of the admitted profile of the school, they now have a much better chance of acceptance in that they have truly done their research and can write an honest, intelligent essay about why they want to attend X university. Finding a few good targets should be your ultimate goal, not outsmarting the system or trying to add more random schools to your list and rushing through the supplemental essays.
If you are planning to apply to college in your home state, please take the time to visit. Many private colleges do track a students interest, so it’s a good idea to sign up for a tour and plan to spend the day on campus. In my practice, Greenhaus College Consulting, I often suggest that students visit schools within driving distance. San Diego students are strongly encouraged to visit colleges in Orange County and Los Angeles.
Social media has become a dangerous minefield for teenagers where they share freely with little regard to how this information can impact their future. More colleges are checking social media profiles than in previous years. As students approach their senior year in high school they should be using a professional email and make sure they are coming across positively on social media avoiding any posts that could be taken in a negative light. At Greenhaus Consulting we often review a students social media sites and give them feedback on both photos and current postings.
After spending so much time on your applications and essays you need to follow through by sending your ACT scores,subject tests, transcripts and letters of recommendation. Colleges will ask for three sets of transcripts which include grades from years 9-11, senior year grades from first semester and the final transcript is usually due by July 1 after graduation. While the high school usually uploads this information through a computer portal, not every school subscribes to college planning software and they may need to send this information through another means. If your school is not using Naviance you should ask the admissions office if the transcript can be emailed,faxed or sent through the mail. Students might be required to give their teachers a self addressed envelope to send to out of state colleges. As a college counselor in San Diego I often remind my students to reach out to their out of state colleges that are not on the common application and ask about how they would like to receive both transcripts and letters of recommendation. Students should make a list of all of their common application and out of state schools. In January we often send follow up emails to non common application schools to make sure they have received all of the necessary documents. It’s always best to safe than sorry in the long run
The goal of Academic Coaching is to help students become more organized, better note-takers, test takers and overall students. Achieving these goals will lead towards more self confidence and improved graduation rates. Academic coaching will help students to maintain their motivation and keeps them accountable on a weekly basis.
▪ What are my strengths and weaknesses that I can build on
▪ How can I be a better student and achieve my goals
▪ What resources are available to me on campus, tutoring, writing, accommodations
▪ How can I access these resources
▪ Time Management
▪ What Systems Do I have in place for monitoring my assignments.
These are just a few areas that students have made progress toward in the first semester that we engage them in academic coaching. Students call this a crash course in learning. Coaching has helped many students to understand the missing piece of information that prevents them from academic success.
College Freshman often struggle with how to manage their studies during the first and second semester of college. Many students have come from smaller private high schools that have built in systems to assist students and in addition to having supportive parents. A students time is very structured during the high school years. College students are expected to structure their own study schedules and monitor their free time in between classes. During high school, parents are there to remind students about deadlines and details. Some students often rely on their parents for this information and have difficulty making the transition to college. High School counselors will be scheduling the students classes. Students will be responsible for scheduling their own classes in college. Graduation requirements can be difficult to understand and students are required to make time to understand whats required of them. Professors are expecting students to make use of their office hours and advocate for themselves. While many students have little difficulty with these transitions, others will struggle with these milestones. This is where the help of an academic coach can be useful. Students with ADD, anxiety and learning disabilities often have difficulty interfacing with their professors,disability counselors and staff members. Academic coaches are able to help students get up to speed and back on track with their peers. They do this by helping students take ownership of their academic success. The first step is to identify the obstacles that have stood in the way of a students learning and create a plan to help each student get back on track. In some cases this might mean lowering the students test anxiety,advocating for themselves, using their accommodations, gaining insight into their own internal motivation and committing more time to studying and learning.
Gina Gerrato Greenhaus is an Independent College Consultant and Academic Coach. Gerrato-Greenhaus created Greenhaus College Consulting to help families and students with their college search and provide targeted advice for the transition from high school to college. Their academic advising strategies have led many young people towards the college of their dreams. Greenhaus College Consulting works with students of all abilities. They also have an in depth knowledge of the best fit colleges for students with learning disabilities and Attention Deficit Disorder. One on one college counseling is provided for students in San Diego. Academic Coaching is offered to college students by Skype and Face Time.
To learn more about Greenhaus College Consulting go to their website: http:// www.greenhauscollegeconsulting.com or call 858-481-6045
As a college consulting expert, I am here to share some inside information with you on how to build a balanced college list that reflects your overall choices and needs. While many of us may have those dream schools on our list, it’s important for us to have an accurate picture of where we stand in the admissions pool and which schools will be the best fit for us. Students often have a difficult time matching themselves to a school due to their lack of knowledge and research. When families are first approaching the college process, they often begin building the list by adding a few schools based on name recognition. People often want to apply to a school they are somewhat familiar with, however we really need to ask ourselves if that school will meet the needs of our student and help him succeed.
For those of you who are novices at building the college list, here are a few things to keep in mind. Your college list is a set of schools that are customized for you and your family. This list is based on a number of factors that is very personal for your child, including his/her grades, test scores, interests, location and your personal finances. Don’t try to create a college list based on where your sons’ friends are applying. Their list of criteria is probably different then yours; so their list will also be different.
Think about location carefully. Does your student prefer the west coast schools with warmer weather, or is he willing to
attend college out of state? Will he engage in a club sport or activity? How many of the schools on your list offer this activity and at what level? Is your student open to a religious school, such as a Catholic or Christian college? Has he visited the campus? Would he feel more comfortable at a school closer to home? Many students who have attended Catholic school find that they enjoy a similar atmosphere at their university.
When I hear a student using the words “spirited campus”, this usually means a large school with sports on campus. It
could be private or public. I often need to remind students that this will likely mean large classes in huge lecture halls. Even when
students cling to the idea of a spirited campus, my advice is to apply to a well rounded set of schools. Since most seventeen year old high school students will frequently change their mind, I suggest applying to a few large schools, and some mid size schools where there is an opportunity to study in smaller classes. Students often have a change of heart by May of senior year and having options make things a lot easier.
Learn about how to match your student to a number of schools including reach,match,and likely
schools. Even if you have the grades for a highly selective college,realize that these schools often have a ten percent admit rate
and this is a reach for everyone. A match school is where a student’s academic profile is similar to the average admitted student for that campus. A likely school is where a students academic profile is significantly stronger than the average applicant.
Make sure you include at least one financial safety, even if cost is not an issue. You will also want to apply to some schools where you are sure to earn some merit scholarships. Research the cost, including the listed sticker price
with tuition, housing and meals. Compare this to the net price calculator listed on every college website.
If you are applying to private colleges, please visit the campus. One of the best things you can do
for your child is take them on a college visit. Colleges want to see demonstrated interest. They want to know if you are truly interested. Students should want to learn more about the schools they will be attending in fall. Visiting a school will often give a student an opportunity to speak with their future classmates. Many students return from visits feeling very invigorated about the college process. One of the best ways to match yourself to a school is to find out about the student activity groups and the projects they are involved with. As you learn more about the campus culture, you can begin to see yourself matched with a number of schools.
In addition, you will want to look carefully at the majors and minors that are offered at each school. Once you have
completed your research you will be much more prepared to apply to college,and make an educated choice during the spring of senior
year. My best advice is always to seek guidance from a college consultant.
As the selectivity for college admissions continues to rise, parents become worried and anxious. Each year, we hear about top students who have been denied by their dream schools. This news causes high school students to become anxious and pressured to take more AP classes. As a result, many students have much less time to purse their extracurricular activities and enjoy their high school years. With guidance counselors having increased case-loads in large public high schools, it’s no wonder that teenagers feel lost as they approach their senior year. In addition, the college landscape has changed quite a bit. Parents often do not know how to advise their sons and daughters. Even navigating the college application is something foreign to them, since they did not apply online when they were in high school. It’s very understandable why a family would seek the help of an expert for their child.
According to Lipman Hearne, one of the nation’s top marketing and communications firms released an independent survey titled “High-Achieving Seniors and the College Decision.” Based on their findings, which was a surprise to them, 26 percent of students hired an independent educational consultant. As we can see, many families see the need for outside assistance in this area.
The question for us is whether you should follow through with this decision for your family. Let’s take a closer look at why a family would seriously consider this option and how you might go about finding the right counselor for your student.
Families hire counselors for many reasons. The key is to use the counselor’s expertise to help educate you in the college admissions process. How much do you know about applying to college? After spending an evening at the college admissions presentation at your local high school, do you still have questions? Perhaps your child is a strong student with definite ideas about where he wants to attend. Are you worried that he or she will not be accepted after spending so much time on extracurricular activities and classwork? Do you have a good idea of where your child wants to attend, in state, out of state. At Greenhaus College Consulting, we work with students on enhancing and building their student resumes starting from grades 9 and 10. By doing so, when students begin the college search process in grades 11 and 12, they are well prepared.
If your family is looking for a way to cut the cost of college, an independent counselor can guide you through the maze of financial aid and possible scholarships. Independent college counselors will explain the differences between public and private colleges and help you to create a balanced list of schools along with information on tuition, housing and top tips for cutting costs.
Your student has no idea what he or she is interested in studying and you have limited knowledge of how to help them. Independent college counselors have knowledge about personality testing and are skilled at matching students with ideal college options. If the student is interested in business and wants to study within 100 miles of his home, the counselor will give a list of available options.Greenhaus College Consulting has a 4-step progressive process that helps the student identify his learning style, academic interests and personality strengths. This process will be invaluable for many students who need to focus on their strengths and how to apply these ideas toward choosing the right college.
If your student has a learning disability, you will more than likely want to find a supportive environment for higher learning. An independent college counselor can organize opportunities for you and your student to meet with the disability offices at a variety of schools on your list. These visits will give you an idea of which schools offer the necessary support. Greenhaus College Consulting has in-depth knowledge in this area since we have supported a vast number of students with learning disabilities over the years. We have a freshman transition program for our seniors which helps them to learn how to advocate for themselves and interface with the disabilities office at their school.
Your student might be interested in engineering, computer science or pre-med. An independent counselor can help prepare the student for subject tests, refer him or her to a tutor and compile a list of selective and less selective colleges with admissions statistics from over the past few years. This type of information can open a door that unlocks your student’s future. College admissions is highly selective, but most engineering and computer science programs are even more selective. If we are interested in applying directly to one of these majors, we will want to have an expert help us to create a balance list.
You may enjoy helping your child with major life decisions, but he or she may not always want to listen to your advice. Does it not make sense, then, to have an outside expert partnering with your family for this journey? Independent counselors will encourage your child to do a good job with their essays and applications and help them to establish a good relationship with their teaches and counselors who will be writing their letter of recommendation.
At this point, you can see a few of the obvious benefits of having an independent admissions advisor. The next step is to interview a few counselors to find the perfect fit for your family. There are many independent counselors that work with students on college essays and reviewing applications. When you interview a counselor or look at their website, check to see if they are vetted by a professional organization. Are they a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association These counselors must go through a rigorous vetting process that includes having an advance degree, visiting over 50 colleges and documenting their past success with previous clients.
If you are hiring an admissions consultant for your family, make sure they are the best fit for your child. Try to work with them for a few sessions to see how your child responds. This should be a good experience for your family, because having a counselor should ease the stressful burden weighing on the shoulders of families today. Greenhaus College Consulting is a professional member of the IECA and Higher Education Consultants. For more information contact them at: www.greenhauscollegeconsulting.com Office: 858-481-6045
Families often ask when they should begin preparing for college. This is a difficult question because early preparation begins in middle school. It begins with taking a challenging curriculum, earning good grades, developing a passion and engaging in community service projects. Selective colleges are looking for scholars, however not every student can achieve at this level. Getting accepted to the most prestigious universities has been increasingly difficult, which has been frustrating to both students and their families. How can students stand out from other applicants? What about students who do not have stellar grades and resumes, is there a place for them? The answer is yes, most definitely, there is a right fit college for everyone. Getting started can be the biggest hurdle, but there is a path for all.
This is where an independent college counselor can help. Greenhaus College Consulting in San Diego, has helped many students succeed in this area. Part of their success lies in the 4 step progressive process they have created. Year after year, students are accepted to the best fit schools including selective universities. Lets take a closer look at the 4 step process that sets up our student for success.
When we first begin working with a student we like to spend some time helping them learn about who they are, and how that will translate to their educational choices about college and where they will spend the next four years. We call this the Exploration Phase. Once a student learns more about themselves they will feel more confident about making decisions. Our college counseling process will include: Personality Testing,Learning Style Quiz,Strength Finder Activities,Educational Questionaires,Online Career Matching Assessments. These sessions will also include discussions about school work, academic planning for senior year, testing strategies,volunteer work and building good relationships with teachers. The overall goal will be to emerge from this process with self confidence and the enthusiasm to move onto the next phase. An independent college admissions counselor is often able to help students figure out what they want from a college and how to create a balanced college list. Our goal is to find the perfect college that will engage and develop each student in this important step of their life.
We usually start working with students in sophomore or junior year, during their second semester. This is a great time to get organized and focused. As students emerge from the Exploration process ready to take on the college search process, our ultimate goal is help them get ready for the fall. The goal of the planning phase is to develop a customized list of fifteen colleges and revise the students activity resume. The next step is to begin writing the main college essay, and developing topics for the additional essay supplements. The college planning phase includes organizing college visits and developing an action timeline so students can stay on task. Many private colleges track the interest of their students so we highly encourage these visits. Our goal is to have students complete their college lists, part of the college application and at least one or more essays prior to the start of senior year. The students can now return to high school with more confidence than before. Putting a plan in place helps to ease the stress for families. While many of our students come to us from the San Diego area, we also work with students in various parts of the country, utilizing Skype, Face-time and phone calls, we get to the heart of the matter.
The goal for the application phase is to make sure the student is fully engaged in the application process. The college counselor is guiding the student to complete their applications,writing their essays and interfacing with teachers. Obtaining letters of recommendation is highly important. An independent college counselor can provide much insight into obtaining great letters from teachers and counselors, especially in a large high school. Experienced counselors can help students prepare for the college interview. When an application arrives, it can be very helpful to have some notes on file from each student. This shows the college admissions officer that the student is truly interested in applying and attending their school. At Greenhaus College Consulting we prepare each of our students with mock interviews. 100 percent of our students are at ease during the real interview and often come back feeling quite confident.
The college selection process should be the most fun, because this is when students get to choose from the list of schools they have been accepted to. Consultation on various college options include side by side comparisons of two or more offers, a financial aid award breakdown, contacting schools to set up an overnight visit,attending an open house for admitted students,and speaking with student alumni. Often times when a student is unable to attend an open house in the spring an independent counselor can help them find a local alumni to speak with. This can be invaluable for out of state students who are trying to decide between two campuses. The selection process is really the culmination of the college admissions process however many students can benefit from post admissions advisement. At Greenhaus Consulting we include these services with many of our comprehensive packages.
From the time a student accepts the offer from a college to the time they step foot on the campus during fall, there are a few steps to put in place. For most students this includes applying for housing,and registering for classes but for students with learning issues, the process is more detailed.
These students need to have a well laid plan in place. Part of our work at Greenhaus College
Consulting includes assisting families in obtaining the necessary accommodations at the college level. Some colleges will accept a 504 Plan, but many will require current testing at the adult levels. In order to help both students and families make a smooth transition from high school to college we provide an additional level of services to them. This is referred to as the freshman transition package. We make sure that the student has the proper documentation to receive his/her accommodations and that we identify the needs of the student and how they can be most successful. Some of these services include helping students set up an interview with the disabilities office, coaching them in advance to advocate for they needs and advising them on freshman class selection.
As we can see, an independent college counselor can provide much support for a high school student. Their knowledge of colleges is vast and their understanding of the process is comprehensive. This type of professional advisement is highly beneficial for families who are unsure about the college admissions process and are seeking expert guidance.