Getting into College with a Learning Disability

Dear Dr. Linda,

I’m proud to tell you that our daughter got a perfect score on the SATs. She wants to go to an Ivy League school or the equivalent, but we have no idea if she’ll get into any of those schools because she has a learning disability.

We had her tested when she was 6 because we felt something was wrong. My husband and I never wanted her to be labeled so we decided to send her to private schools starting in kindergarten. When we approached 10th grade, following SAT guidelines, we had her privately tested again, and as a result, the SATs and ACTs gave her extra time. Knowing all this, we’re wondering which schools would you recommend for her.

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Dear Carolyn,

To begin with, please congratulate her. That is truly an accomplishment and you should be proud. However, without knowing your daughter or anything else about her, it is difficult to recommend a school.

For starters, a perfect score on the SATs, with or without a learning disability, doesn’t mean she’s going to be accepted to any one school. She’s competing with students from all over the world who want to go to Ivy League colleges or their equivalent. When you apply to college, there’s a lot more involved than your SAT or ACT scores. I know students who also got perfect scores on the SAT or ACT and weren’t accepted to an Ivy League school. I also know a student who scored in the 1400s on the SAT, graduated from one of the most competitive high schools, and was accepted to Harvard.

You and your daughter should also apply to some “safe” schools, where she’s almost guaranteed acceptance. And even with those, you still need to research what they’ll provide to accommodate her disabilities.

The point is that you’ll have to do your homework to see where your daughter will receive the most support. Without knowing her, I assume her learning disability has a significant impact on her, otherwise she would not likely have been given extra time on the SAT and ACT.

However, this support will not carry over to college. Since she went to private schools, it’s likely that she doesn’t have an I.E.P. (Individual Educational Plan) already in place, and it’s going to be more difficult for her to get formal support in college as provided for by the following statute: “For students who have a learning disability that is covered by an IEP in high school, colleges are required under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide necessary adjustments in order to provide the same quality of education as received by students who are not disabled.”

Obviously, the schools she has attended have provided the support she needs without being classified with a learning disability (LD), and there are colleges that will too. You’ll just have to do the same homework you did when finding private undergraduate schools.

No matter what college she is accepted to, have her talk to them about her disability and find out what services they will provide. Even though they are not obligated by law to provide her any help, they can use her test scores from the recent testing you had done as a guide for them when helping her select classes.

Hope that helps,

Dr. Linda

If you have a question to ask Dr. Linda about your child or a school related situation, she can be reached at

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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