For Disabled Students, A College Degree Can Be An Unattainable Goal

BestColleges.com and a panel of experts explore the challenges students with physical and learning disabilities face when navigating postsecondary education

October 16, 2018 (Seattle, WA) BestColleges.com, a leading provider of college planning resources and higher education research, invited a panel of disability experts to discuss issues surrounding college accessibility with regard to students with physical and learning disabilities. The new publication marks the fourth issue in a series dedicated to examining student educational barriers in the United States. In this edition, BestColleges.com and experts share their thoughts about the ways in which educational institutions can better accommodate students with disabilities and how these students can successfully overcome challenges to earn college degrees.

The nine-person panel offers perspective and expertise on physical and learning disabilities, college accessibility, the college application processes, student decision-making, and important disability resources and advice. “While colleges are required to make certain accommodations for disabled students, not all campuses are outfitted with the same resources and accessibility to help every disabled student become academically successful. A lack of adequate support at college is a major concern for parents sending their children away for the first time and for students navigating advanced education curricula,” said Stephanie Snider, Director of BestColleges.com.

The publication also addresses how prospective students with disabilities can evaluate schools and programs based on accessibility before submitting an application, thereby choosing schools with better resources and individualized support plans. “By conducting preliminary research into colleges during the application process, students with disabilities can evaluate how their particular needs will be met and supported during their college experience,” added Snider.

The publication also contains a bank of resources for students with disabilities, as well as actionable transition tips.

To view the complete publication, please visit here.

Meet the panel:

Marcus Soutra, President, Eye to Eye

"First off, college is not for everyone. However, anyone who wants to attend post-secondary education most definitely can do it. There are incredible resources available for students with learning differences. Every college in America is required to have a disabilities service office, which is designed to support students by providing them with accommodations, mentorship, and opportunities to receive tutoring."

Jenna Beacom, M.Ed., Content Marketing Writer, Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc.

"Know your rights, know the laws, and be willing to challenge the status quo if needed. Keep it polite and professional, but be persistent. Don't let perceived limitations get in your way; if there is something that makes you think a college would be a good fit — whether it's the city, the campus, the majors offered, or anything else — go for it!"

Joseph Santini, Ed.S., Program Manager, CSD Learns

"While keeping access in mind, don't forget about your bucket list. College is a time when your mind and heart broaden and you'll want to choose a place which has all the options you could dream of. Go abroad. Perform in a play. Join a team. Learn about ancient skeletons. College is more than just a place to sit while you get a degree so you can get a job. A great college should be a place full of excitement and opportunity!"

Jim Rein, Founding Expert, Understood

"Talk to the appropriate resources, such as disability resources. Create a chart of who you can talk to about your different concerns. Take pride in your accomplishments in spite of your challenges and associate with students who share your interests and talents."

Rachel Brown, Graduate Student

"Research colleges early, take time with the applications, ask as many questions as you want, and find out what accommodations can be offered. Most importantly, do not be afraid of not being accepted."

Annie Tulkin, Regional Disability Coordinator, Humanitas, Inc.

"Learn to talk about your disability in a way that makes you comfortable. This takes practice! Start by figuring out what you need to be successful and happy. Learning to be an effective self advocate takes time. Also, find "your people" on campus. Put yourself out there and find friends that respect and support you."

Kayla Brown, Program Coordinator, DO-IT

"Remember, people with disabilities can and do attend college. The most important thing is to understand what academic accommodations you will need to be successful in your classes. That is what they are there for. College also has different support services available to you that may not have been available in high school. If you practice your self-advocacy skills, then you'll be just fine."

Jimmie Smith, Director, Learning Effectiveness Program at University of Denver

"I encourage students to take the opportunity in their essays to tell their stories, to explain their challenges and also their strengths, to share what they have been able to accomplish in their lives and how they have gone about doing so."

About BestColleges.com
BestColleges.com helps prospective students find the school that best meets their needs through proprietary research, user-friendly guides, and hundreds of unique college rankings. They also provide a wide array of college planning, financial aid, and career resources to help all students get the most from their education and prepare them for the world after college.