As others have noted, learning disabilities encompass a wide range of abilities. The majority of students with learning disabilities should conduct their college search in the same way as their typical peers – by identifying schools that are a good fit because they have the major they want, are a good size for them, are located in the kind of setting they desire, have great food, etc. Once students have identified a number of schools that suit them, they can look at the disability services at each college.
It is important for you to know that every college in the country, including those in the Ivy League, has to provide some basic accommodations to students with disabilities. In college, students have to register with what is typically the office called “Disability Services” (other offices that don’t use the word “disability” may use names that include the words “access” “equity” “or “learning”). This typically requires filling out a form (it may require having a brief meeting with someone at the office) and submitting “documentation,” or paperwork that shows that the student has a learning or other type of disability. Students also have to say what accommodations they are requesting. Once students are approved for services, the office will decide – on an individual basis – what accommodations they will receive. Many students will be found eligible for accommodations such as extended time to take tests, permission to record lectures, and permission to use a laptop to take notes. Some with reading disabilities will get their texts converted to a format where their computers can read the texts aloud to them. But each decision is made based on the particulars of each student’s profile.
Another thing that is important to note is that some people refer to the provision of these services as a “program.” As I said, all colleges have to provide at least basic accommodations, but I wouldn’t call those a program. Some do have programs for students with learning disabilities and/or ADHD for which they charge a fee. But many students will do fine with just basic accommodations. Students who require a lot of assistance to organize themselves and navigate through assignments might benefit from a fee-for-service program. Students who have been diagnosed with a learning disability toward the end of high school and have not yet learned strategies to help them might benefit from such a program, too. Again, students should think about what level of support they think they’ll need.
The K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Differences offers some basic information about the services at a few hundred colleges (no guide could include every college in the country). You can also search the Internet for lists that college advisors have posted of schools that they think provide supportive services. As I said, every college will provide what some guides refer to as Level I (basic) services. Some schools go beyond the minimum. For example, some schools offer workshops, have a full-time adaptive technology specialist, and even offer students sessions with a learning specialist or coach – for free (these might be called Level II services). Students considering Level III (fee-for-service) programs should research these carefully to make sure that they think the services offered justify the fee. For instance, they might want to make sure that the people who work in these programs as “specialists” or “coaches” have the kind of credentials they would expect when paying to meet with them.
For students who think that they need a very specialized environment, there are two schools dedicated solely to the education of students with learning disabilities and ADHD. One is Landmark College in Vermont and the other is Beacon College in Florida.