By Loring Brinckerhoff, Ph.D.
In the ideal world, every student with a learning disability (LD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) would be a master at charting her own destiny after high school. In reality, it is often her parents who orchestrate the transition planning process. Nevertheless, such teenagers should be encouraged to participate actively in planning their transition to young adulthood — including the prospect of attending college.
This article will explain the differences between high school and college; this information can help students with learning and/or attention problems make an informed decision regarding postsecondary education. For students who've decided college is right for them, the article also outlines the essential steps towards independence that high school students with LD and/or AD/HD need to take before applying to college.
If a high school student is to make an informed decision about attending college, and plan effectively for her transition to postsecondary education, she (and her multidisciplinary team, if applicable) needs to be aware of the many inherent differences between high school and college settings (Brinckerhoff, McGuire & Shaw, 2002).
Two of the biggest differences between high school and college concern the amount of in-class time and opportunities for direct teacher contact. High school students are in class approximately six hours a day, and it is not unusual for them to have contact with their teachers four or five times a week. In comparison, college classes may meet only once or twice a week, thus, the opportunities for direct teacher contact are much more limited. In college, faculty members often have limited office hours, making it difficult for students to find time to meet with their professors. With the advent of online courses, this is changing, but having direct access to the instructor of the course, rather than a teaching assistant (TA), is still a concern.
Typically, high school students spend a limited amount of time completing homework assignments at home. Instead, they often work on assignments during a study hall or resource room period. In contrast, college students must learn how to budget study time for themselves. As a general rule, for every hour of class time, college students need to spend three hours of out of class time preparing assignments. For students with LD and/or ADHD this rule of thumb should be doubled, given the time needed for rewriting lecture notes, reading, or listening to audio textbooks, and integrating course materials from a variety of sources (e.g., texts, lecture notes, lab assignments).
Many high school students with LD become accustomed to special education personnel, learning specialists, or library personnel who are willing to drop what they are doing and "rescue" them before an upcoming term paper or mid-term examination. Most college campuses have a disability services office, but few have the personnel to provide drop-in hours for last-minute term paper editing, test preparation, or content tutoring.
High school classrooms typically contain 25 to 30 students, in comparison to many college classrooms, which consist of large lecture halls for 200 to 300 students. During the freshman and sophomore years, students are routinely herded into large, impersonal auditoriums with tiny desks for core courses, such as Introduction to Western Civilization or Psychology 101. These settings many be efficient for the broad dissemination of information, but for students with AD/HD and/or organization problems, they can be very distracting.
Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you more
insights to help you help your child succeed.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.