Dana Stahl, a learning specialist and educational consultant, will address educational questions and concerns parents have regarding their children’s’ academic development and progress in school. Topics of discussion can center on how to handle homework dilemmas to what questions to ask at a CSE meeting. Questions can range from, “How best do I advocate for my child?” to “How do I interpret formal tests that have been administered?” to “What schools and colleges are right for my child?”

Readers can write to Dana at danaconsults@gmail.com. Dana will respond to readers’ questions, quelling parents’ concerns and offering educational advice. For the purpose of introducing the Q and A format, I am offering this first question.

How do I help my learning-disabled student deal with the social/emotional side of applying to colleges?

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When learning-disabled (LD) students apply to college, they encounter unique social/emotional challenges. After all, the application process demands solid skills in executive functioning, organization, time management, processing speed, reading comprehension skills, written language skills, working memory and mature social judgment. LD candidates often worry that they are unable to meet expectations and feel overwhelmed when moving through the various stages of the college application process.

There are a few useful tips that any parent, especially the parent of a child with a LD, can use to help maintain their child’s social/emotional wellbeing during the application process. They need to remember that resiliency matters. Remind your child that getting through elementary, middle and high school took a tremendous amount of resiliency, dedication, motivation and perseverance. Take a moment to reflect on everything your child has accomplished thus far and celebrate in their success.

Empower your child by reminding them to be proactive and self-promoters to hone in on key interview strategies, which is an excellent way to build the student’s self-confidence and increase their sense of control over the application process. Parents need to remain supportive during the application process as stress is frequently associated with key components like the college essay.

As Merilee Jones states in her book, “Less Stress, More Success”—“Simply point out the positive; don’t attempt to package the candidate into a product you hope the college will buy.” Let the authentic voice of your child surface as the applicant in your child emerges. Use phrases such as, “Did you consider mentioning ______? I think that a college may want to know that about you.”

There are numerous ways in which learning-disabled students can negotiate and navigate the college application process successfully.

This article was written by Dana Stahl, M.Ed., Educational Alternatives LLC. Dana’s educational consultant practice focuses on assessment, advocacy and school placement for students with learning disabilities and social-emotional challenges. learn more by visiting educationalalternativesllc.com.