Why a Learning Disability Can Give You A College Admission Edge

Last Updated Jun 11, 2011 5:44 PM EDT

Can a learning disability give your teenager an advantage when applying to colleges?

You might consider that an absurd question. Colleges, after all, are looking for students with the highest grades and highest test scores. Or maybe that's not always true.

At least that's the position of David Montesano, a college admission strategist at College Match Educational Consulting, which has offices on the East and West coasts. Colleges and universities, he says, can treat a learning disability as a plus. And here's why: colleges look for diversity in their applicants and a learning disability is a form of diversity.

Letting Colleges Know About a Learning Disability

Consequently, Montesano says, rather than trying to hide their learning disabilities, students should highlight their academic challenges when applying to college.

An ideal place to draw attention to learning disabilities is on college applications. Colleges cannot legally ask if applicants have learning disabilities. Students, however, will have an opportunity to share information about a learning disability on the additional information section of an application.

Here are four things that students can do to make the most of this section of the application:

1. Students should share the name of the disability and its general impact on learning and testing.

2. Applicants should explain how the learning disability has hurt their own grades and/or test scores.

3. Teenagers should share how they have compensated for their learning disabilities and provide examples. They should also discuss the accommodations they have received in schools.

4. Students should share how their grades and test scores have risen based on their accommodations and their hard work to compensate for the disability.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.

More on CBS MoneyWatch:

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