Applying to college is a big job with many moving pieces. And projects that require multiple steps and deadlines can be difficult for kids with learning and thinking differences to tackle and break down. Understanding the application process and staying organized can make this job more manageable for both you and your teen. Here are steps to making the college application process a little more organized.
Decide how much you’re going to help.
Figure out in advance how much of the responsibility you’re willing to carry. Having that outlined ahead of time can help make the process constructive, rather than stressful. (If you’re unsure how much to help, see what an expert recommends.)
Remember the IEP.
Use trusted sources for research.
Consider schools that don’t emphasize testing.
The number of colleges that do not require SAT or ACT scores for admission is growing. Fair Test lists roughly 950 colleges that have dropped or de-emphasized the SAT or ACT. Read an expert’s advice about going to college without taking the tests.
Late in his junior year, your teen may want to start practicing filling out the Common Application—the application many colleges use. Explore ways to make the essay process a little easier.
Manage time and energy.
Encourage work blocks and breaks.
Suggest that your child set aside blocks of time for working on applications or even just reading about colleges he’s interested in. He can use his phone as a timer or to set an alarm for breaks to pace himself through his to-do list.
Talk about your child disclosing his learning and thinking differences.
Many students aren’t sure whether to disclose their learning and thinking differences in their college applications. It’s a personal choice. Talk with your child, his educational team and others close to him about the pros and cons. And read stories about people who “owned it” in their college essays.
Have documentation ready.
If your child has a documented disability, have his documentation ready whether he chooses to tell a college or not. It’s good to have it handy in case he changes his mind or needs it for any reason.