Fall 2011 Update

This fall 2011 term has been particularly busy. For this current semester, I’ve drawn upon my background to help many high school students plan for college, especially those with disabilities. Also, the support work for students in college, especially helping those who have done poorly improve, has also continued. A brief summary for the college help program and services that I offer is below.

For this semester, colleges that my students are currently at, were accepted, or applied to included for this semester include: Loyola, Wheaton, DePaul, Loyola Marymount, University of Denver, Hofstra, Syracuse, Fordham, San Diego State, Valdosta, University of North Carolina, Bowling Green, University of Colorado, University of Maryland, Colorado College, San Diego State, Westchester State, Northwestern, Adelphi, University of Miami, Fairleigh-Dickinson, Dickinson, Brown, and others.

For the college planning work that I do, I’m currently working with a number of very busy high school students. Half of them are students with disabilities who need a more specialized approach to college planning, and we’ve been able to identify potential mistakes in their own efforts. In some cases their “dream” colleges were either too large, didn’t have the supports they needed, or the school’s policies were too stringent to allow them to receive needed accommodations. Since they are all high achieving students right now, making the right choices for college will allow them to continue to express their true abilities at a disability-friendly college.

For the portion of my work that helps students who are in college, I’ve had five students successfully go from academic probation last term to passing, and a couple have a semester GPA of 3.0 or better. There is also one student from last year who went from failing to the Dean’s list, was admitted to a study abroad program, and is now spending this school year in Japan. I’ve also had a couple of students not be able to continue their studies this term because they needed additional treatment for their disability before they could continue. Too many students enter college without having established an effective treatment regimen to control the impact of a disability on their studies. In these instances, the rigors of college can prove to be too much to handle with an untreated disability, and too often they didn’t request accommodations either to help them succeed academically.

A particularly effective strategy that I’ve found is that if a student is at a college that isn’t right for them, transferring to a college that is more suitable for them and implementing transitional and first-semester support brings a better outcome. This sounds easy, but in practice, it’s not. Research must be done to find the right school, and this includes extra steps if the student has a disability. Schools can vary on actual disability supports and policies, so finding the right placement for a student with anxiety, depression, ADD, or other common conditions can be challenging. I would discourage students and parents from attempting this or any other strategy on their own without the help of a qualified professional.

I would like to thank the many colleagues that I’ve worked with during the summer and during this fall semester. Special thanks to Wendy McSparren, MSW, psychiatrist Eileen Gorry, M.D., neuropsychologist Christy Emmons, Ph.D., Joan House, M.Ed., at Carlow University, Sharon Manella, Psy.D., at Carnegie-Mellon, Emi Iwatani, M.Ed., and the many other colleagues who have been both helpful and supportive this year.