17 Great Colleges for Students With Special Needs
Finding the right college is hard for anyone. There are so many things to think about: Tuition costs, dorm living, choosing the right major, and how close the school is to home.
When choosing a school for a student with a disability, more questions must be asked: Will I be given the appropriate accommodations to help me succeed? What will my living situation be like? Are there additional costs? Will I have academic support?
To help you narrow down your college choices, we’ve listed 17 colleges and universities that provide a great college experience for students with special needs.
Location: Mt. Pleasant
Central Michigan University has services for students with learning disabilities, mobility impairments, health impairments, mental illnesses, hearing impairments, blindness, and low vision. Services for students with disabilities are handled on a case-by-case basis, and some may qualify for particular services early on in their academic career and lose that eligibility as they grow as a student. The website includes a list of typical services used, based on a student’s disabilities and needs.
The Disability Resource Center (DRC) sees disabilities as “an integral part of the rich diversity at Eastern Michigan University,” and works with students, faculty, and staff to create an inclusive educational environment at the university. The DRC offers a variety of services, including extended time on quizzes and exams, testing environments that are free of distractions, sign language interpreters and real-time captioning, recorded textbooks, textbooks and class materials in alternate formats such as Braille and large print, and assistance in note taking, and more.
At Oakland University, accommodations for students with disabilities are provided on an individual basis. The university provides general services including accessible housing services, alternative formats for textbooks and class materials, alternative furniture in university buildings, extended time for exams, note-takers, priority registration, and more. There is also Students Toward Understanding Disabilities (S.T.U.D.), an organization formed by students to “create awareness and education campus community about disability issues and to actively contribute to student life at OU.”
Location: East Lansing
Michigan State University has services for students on the autism spectrum, visual and hearing impairments, brain injuries, learning disabilities, ADHD, chronic health disabilities, mobility disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. MSU offers accommodations and programs such as accessible textbooks and media, alternative testing, assistive technology, career and employment guidance, and the MSU Tower Guard.
Location: Ann Arbor
Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) serves more than 1100 students at the University of Michigan. SSD provides students with free services that are not provided by other offices in the university or by outside organizations. These services include equipment and material loans, video captioning, sign language interpreters, note-taking services, E-text, and books in large print and Braille text.
Disability Services for Students provides accommodations include priority registration for classes, referral and advocacy activities with university departments, accessibility on campus, adaptive computer equipment. Similarly to other universities, this program acts as a liaison between students and professors.
Location: Springfield, Massachusetts
The Curtis Blake Supportive Learning Services program is a fee-based program and includes one-on-one tutoring assistance and study skills workshops that are tailored to the student’s specific needs. The Supportive Learning Services staff can also work to modify the student’s academic environment by reducing course-loads and providing special materials or testing options.
Location: Milton, Massachusetts
The Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL) is “widely recognized as the country’s first college program of its kind and for its leadership role over the years.” PAL students are fully mainstreamed in all classes and receive additional support. According to the website, students work in a combination of individual and small, “credit-bearing classes” with a PAL faculty member during their first year, where they develop strategies in reading comprehension, written language, speaking, listening, organization, and time management.
Location: Boca Raton, Florida
The Institute for Achievement and Learning combines cognitive instructional strategies with services such as group and individual tutoring, specialized learning communities, and group activities. This program assists students in understanding their specific course content and helps them develop strategies for planning, organizing, and implementing their studies.
Location: Huntington, West Virginia
Higher Education for Learning Problems (H.E.L.P.) is a support program for students diagnosed with a learning disability and/or ADHD. Staff members help students improve study skills, improving organizational skills, improve memory, study for tests, and take notes. Staff can also administer oral tests when appropriate and act as a liaison between the professor and the student.
Location: New London, Connecticut
The Learning Resource Center (LRC) is a personalized academic support program that responds to each student’s unique abilities and challenges. LRC offers a fee-based support service, which aims to help students develop effective learning and study strategies, foster the student’s independence as a learner, and encourage self-advocacy skills in the student. This program offers two levels of support: comprehensive support and enhanced support. Mitchell also offers Academic Coaching for Empowerment (A.C.E.) for students with ADHD and/or documented Executive Function disabilities.
Location: Newton, Massachusetts
In the Learning Opportunities Program, each student participates in weekly academic coaching sessions with a professional learning specialist, who is also that student’s primary support person while in the program. The weekly sessions aim to promote independent learning through tutorials that are individualized for the student’s needs, and “emphasize learning strategies, organizational skills, time management and self-advocacy.” There is an additional fee for participating in this program.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
The Ross Center for Disability Services provides students with academic accommodations, and resources and training in assistive technology. Services include priority registration for classes, testing accommodations, note-taking services, information on alternative formats for textbooks and class handouts, interpreter services, an adaptive computer lab, and tape recording. The center also provides the university with information and seeks to increase the community’s understanding of disabilities.
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Augsburg College’s Center for Learning and Adaptive Student Services (CLASS) program provides academic services necessary to accommodate students with learning, attentional, psychiatric, or other cognitive-based disabilities, but CLASS really looks to promote student independence and realization of one’s own potential. Students admitted to the CLASS program work one-on-one with a CLASS Disability Specialist, who provides academic guidance and service-related assistance when appropriate. There is no additional fee for CLASS services.
Location: Leesburg, Florida
Beacon College is the only accredited college with BA and AA degrees exclusively for students with learning disabilities, ADHD, or gifted LD. At Beacon College, students can earn a BA or AA degree in liberal studies, human services, and human information systems. The college offers support services including the Learning Specialists Program, Writing Center, supplemental instruction, and special accommodations. It also has a career center that teaches job skills for today’s competitive market.
Location: Putney, Vermont
Landmark College is an accredited two-year liberal arts program for students with dyslexia, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and other learning disabilities. Students at Landmark receive personal, direct assistance and individualized attention from instructors in the classroom. The college offers courses for skills development, college credit, and an Associate Degree Program for students with average to superior intellectual potential. Landmark offers associate degree programs in general studies, liberal arts, business studies, and business administration.
Location: Tucson, Arizona
The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT) Center provides students with disabilities with individualized educational planning and monitoring, certified tutors to assist them with coursework, and workshops geared toward the student’s individual academic needs. Students can also take advantage of the SALT computer lab (which includes assistive technology), the SALT Writer’s Lab, or the SALT Math and Science Lab. The writing, math and science lab are all staffed with highly trained certified tutors.
For more information on college for students with disabilities, check out these resources:
- Campus Explorer: Students With Disabilities
- New York Times: Colleges for students with learning disabilities