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Thread: When to tell prospective college of disability?

  1. #1

    When to tell prospective college of disability?

    Hi folks,

    My daughter (T5, incl, 3+ post) is 17 and in the 11th grade. She's an excellent student and is actively looking into a few colleges for possible enrollment. She'll take her SAT exam next week and she has made an appointment for a campus visit to her current '1st choice' college.

    In her filling out her profile on collegeboard.com, she correctly reflects her A gpa with AP courses gallore (currently A+ in Pre-Calculus in 11th grade, 5th yr in foreign language, music therory in 10th, asst. coach girls varsity basketball, head coach for JV, currently in dual enrollment in local CC, etc.) I'm not meaning to brag (yea right ) but am trying to give an accurate picture of her profile.

    No where has it come up that she's a parapeligic. Now this might be an item on her actual application, I don't know. But my question is this:

    - When is the appropiate time to reveal her disability to a prospective college?

    She wants to be treated as an equal and gain entrance on her merits alone, yet doesn't want to cause a "oh, NOW you tell me" reaction from the institution when she shows up. She would also like access to ADA dorms and perhaps any and all financial assistance available (actually this part is what I want).

    She wants to apply to 3 instate institutions and 1 'shoot for the moon' one (Princeton).

    Since she is my oldest child, I'm not real familiar with the process. Any comments and suggestions would be most appreciated.
    Rick

    GO FORWARD! 2 FIGHT! PARALYSIS!

  2. #2
    Rick,
    Has your daughter met with her College Adviser at High School to review potential schools yet? Did she take the PSAT test her Sophomore year? Getting into a good University or College is extremely competitive and in my opinion every edge that she has should be used to its fullest extent (including her achievements WITH a SCI). I would suggest taking the SAT, talking to a knowledgeable college adviser, and then visiting appropriate schools. And don't leave out schools just because they might not have ADA-compliant dorms. I would also suggest applying to more than four schools especially if she can do the work at an Ivy League school.
    No school application can ask about disabilities any more than they can ask about her race and no decent school is going to say "now you tell me."
    The good news is that the odds are that she will love any school that she attends, but yes in my opinion it is worth the battle to get into the best school that she can.
    Good luck,
    Carl

  3. #3
    rick,
    I don't know about NJ, but all the colleges out here including junior have handicapped services departments. They can answer any questions she may have and give some good advice also.

    As far as funding goes. Your state vocational rehab. may help answer many of your questions if you go that route. Although in my day they had a slew of restrictions. Scholarships and student loans are an equal footing with the non-disabled.

    She sounds amazing and I wish her and you the best.
    Actually in 2007 I don't see any reason why the entrance into college should require she notify them she is disabled.

    If it does we have alot more work to do.
    Life isn't about getting thru the storm but learning to dance in the rain.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by carl
    Rick,
    Has your daughter met with her College Adviser at High School to review potential schools yet? Did she take the PSAT test her Sophomore year? Getting into a good University or College is extremely competitive and in my opinion every edge that she has should be used to its fullest extent (including her achievements WITH a SCI). I would suggest taking the SAT, talking to a knowledgeable college adviser, and then visiting appropriate schools. And don't leave out schools just because they might not have ADA-compliant dorms. I would also suggest applying to more than four schools especially if she can do the work at an Ivy League school.
    No school application can ask about disabilities any more than they can ask about her race and no decent school is going to say "now you tell me."
    The good news is that the odds are that she will love any school that she attends, but yes in my opinion it is worth the battle to get into the best school that she can.
    Good luck,
    Carl
    Carl,

    Thanks for the suggestions. She goes to a small private school which doesn't have a designated college adviser, but we're getting input from the Vice Principle and several teachers. She's actually taking the PSAT on the 17th of this month, then we'll schedule the SAT I reasoning test and so on.

    I was thinking along your lines about perhaps including some local articles written about her struggles and successes to go along with her application. Just to gain an edge in getting into a school thats very competetive.

    Princeton sent her a info pamplet and made it clear that what they were looking for was a candidate who took advantage of ALL opportunities afforded to them, no matter where they went to school. And this is what Sarah has done.

    Randolph Macon (her intial 1st choice) sends her something every week and this is the school we'll see next month. But William and Mary is a 'designated' handicaped friendly institution in our state, so she'll likely apply there as well.

    When she was younger, she wanted to go to Liberty U in Lynchburg, but this schools is in the mountains and she feels the terrain would be an additional burden.

    I agree that she'll do well wherever, just trying to gain any insight I can.

    Thanks again.
    Rick

    GO FORWARD! 2 FIGHT! PARALYSIS!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Lindox
    rick,
    I don't know about NJ, but all the colleges out here including junior have handicapped services departments. They can answer any questions she may have and give some good advice also.

    As far as funding goes. Your state vocational rehab. may help answer many of your questions if you go that route. Although in my day they had a slew of restrictions. Scholarships and student loans are an equal footing with the non-disabled.

    She sounds amazing and I wish her and you the best.
    Actually in 2007 I don't see any reason why the entrance into college should require she notify them she is disabled.

    If it does we have alot more work to do.
    Thanks Lindox,

    I agree with your primise. Just wanting to know the better approach. Whether to make the issue an upfront key element as to her being able to overcome. Or to keep it a low profile in order to let the admissions officer place whatever prominence on it they so choose. Sometimes the effect can have a greater impact when the candidate makes no issue of it themselves.
    Rick

    GO FORWARD! 2 FIGHT! PARALYSIS!

  6. #6
    Rick, her disability does not need to be mentioned, per se, until and/or unless there are specific needs she has RE accommodations/accessibility, but access issues can be explored once on the campus visits. Campus visits are usually set up through separate departments/staff, unless she/you are meeting with admissions during campus visit. If there is an interview, as part of the admissions process, then any disability (physical, w/c, etc) will be made aware then, upon meeting.

    Any accommodations that need to be made, esp. if living on campus, can be addressed once she is accepted to the college of choice. If she shows herself to be an asset to college, many good schools will do what is necessary to accommodate, incl private schools.

    I agree about utilizing as much as Sarah has, to her advantage, including anything that relates to her injury, and any achievements thereafter - those things which are positive and reflects on her hard work, determination, capacity to deal with (and/or overcome) adversity, ability to problem-solve (and manage time and organize), prioritize, be creative and imaginative in dealing with challenges/obstacles, etc., and any and all talents, skills, and personal character, further fostered by and through circumstances since her injury - incl. those events and the people she's met, that have helped to shape her to be the person she is today; and any plans/goals she has, and her perspective and outlook on life and the world (that show growth and possible impact, not only on her and her immediate family/friends, but how it might translate to impacting, in a positive way, her community and beyond). is that a run-on or what?!

    Colleges look at much more than test scores. Personal background can tell admissions much more about a candidate and inform them in so many ways about a candidate's potential to achieve, succeed, and contribute.

  7. #7
    I would not include articles ABOUT her in her application, but she may choose to write her application essay (required by most schools) about her disability experience and how it has challenged her and help her grow as a person if she so chooses.

    Contact the Disabled Students Services office at the schools in question early. They can help with a school tour, and let you know about how receptive administration is to accomodation. This makes a difference. Also check out any on-campus wheelchair sports activities if she is interested in this.

    (KLD)

  8. #8
    Rick,

    This isn't a big deal w/ larger university. If you mention Princeton, I assume she's steering away from a small college.

    You're likely going to visit prospective schools. Yes, schedule an appointment with the disability service office... just chat with them, investigate accessibility, etc. Those offices operate separately from admissions. Build that relationship early, apply, and if she gets in, then she has someone to go to that will gladly help her.

    There's no need to mention anything on an application.

    If you need any feedback about VA schools, let me know. I went to JMU, live 10min from UVA, and have connections at several others too.

  9. #9
    Rick,

    Use the SCI on the application via essays and recommendation letters. It will help you out... and it might be the only good thing that comes out of this awful condition. I got denied from Stanford and Princeton for undergrad despite perfect test scores and grades. Of course, being a white male from the suburbs of Chicago didn't help either. In hindsight, if I would have had my SCI back then (Thank God I didn't), I probably would have got in. So my advice is to shamlessly use it as a means to get into you daughter's dream school.

    GK

  10. #10
    rick,
    Very varied opinions here. Isn't it up to Sara in how she uses her disability in regards to higher education?

    I can't imagine highly educated people NOT understanding the difficulties she has faced and conquered. But her grades and her consistency in accomplishing very good grades have little to with her disability. That is her ability shining.

    The powers should understand that as hard as it's been to deal with the disability, growing up, and also constant vigilance to her studies she plans on doing ALOT of positive things in the future.

    What does she say about all the disability related attention?
    Life isn't about getting thru the storm but learning to dance in the rain.

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