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November 15, 2010 / compassioninpolitics

Finding a dyslexia friendly college or university

If you’re trying to answer the question “How can I find a university which has the best programs and services for dyslexic students?” I hope the following article can help you make the best choice for you or your student.

I have a mild form dyslexia, which luckily was diagnosed by my first grade teacher and my parents and teachers were all passionate about helping me read. I was also lucky that my school system took it seriously and was enrolled in accelerated programs (of various types) from 4th through 12th grade (which were fantastic for developing my other passions, skills, academic confidence, and imagination).

I chose my college based on scholarship money and locality (5 hours from home) rather than academics, school culture, city size, departments, programs, sports, or any other relevant. Looking back, I wish I had chosen a more academically challenging or more creatively enriching environment. I didn’t know all the research on flow, about the need for challenge in our lives for fulfillment and perhaps even self-actualization. If everything comes easily, victory doesn’t mean much. At the time, the desire to eliminate stress from my life was most important, rather than the opportunities and experiences of really testing my abilities and talents.

How would I evaluate my choice of university now:

1) Academically ranked and respected in the discipline (or a handful of teachers who are passionate and published on the same issues I was passionate about).
2) Diverse opportunities. Perhaps the ability to pursue divergent interests in addition to my major.
3) Academically challenging
4) My budget/financial aid/scholarship
5) In most cases I would chose a big city (or near a big city). although, being in the country allows you to focus, I think being in a big city allows you to experience culture a little more. (I think there are exceptions with large vibrant academic cultures & budgets & motivated teachers).
6) Personal fit of the campus based on college tour.
7) Faith based concerns. Do they have groups on campus for my faith?
8] Programs, associations, and groups around interesting issues.

I think would want to chose a university with a decent dyslexic services program. Although, I think my standard here is based on the fact that my dyslexia is mild. Hopefully, the need for all universities to be ADA compliant means that their services meet this need, but obviously a quick look at their website, a campus tour, or a quick call to the office could help me determine if their services were adequate (especially if I had specific questions in mind).

One way to help you through this process if you experience dyslexia is to check out these two books:

The Human Side of Dyslexia: 142 interviews with Real People Telling Stories about their Coping Strategies with Dyslexia by Shirley Kurnoff ($19 on Amazon)
Learning outside the lines by Johnathan Money ($11 on Amazon)

Purchasing both of these books is a relatively small investment in learning about your or your child’s challenges. It can also be cathartic and inspiring to read stories from other people who live daily with the challenges of dyslexia. I’ve own and have read large parts of both of those books and recommend them. (I’m not sure if they have audiobooks, although I noticed at least two options on Amazon with audiobook options)

Here are a handful of other books about college and dyslexia . Even if you don’t want to buy these books (and I highly recommend you read through them….or get them on an audio book if that works better for you). Finding life strategies to help you in college and later in a career can go a long way toward making your life more enjoyable and “successful.” As such, investing the time and money into learning and reading about this issue is really time and money well invested.

Finally you may want to check out these two links:
List of University which don’t require the use ACT/SAT for admission at Fairtest which includes (I’ve tried to focus on academic, creative, and large state universities and I’ve included 2 technical universities as well)

American University
The Art Institutes
Berkely College of Music
Bowdoin College
Bryn Mawr College
California State University (CSU, check for availability based on campus–although I think they all are included except Berkeley University)
Culinary Institute of America
Eastman School of Music
George Mason University (GMU)
Johnson and Wales
Kansas State University (KSU)
Louisiana State University (LSU)
Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU, where I attended)
Ohio State University (OSU, but check the campus you want to attend to be sure
Ohio University (OU, check the campus you want to attend to be sure)
Oklahoma State University (OSU)
Sarah Lawrence College
San Fransisco State University (SFSU)
Sewaneee-The University of the South
Smith College
State University of New York (SUNY–Check for Availability for your campus)
Texas A & M
Texas Tech
Seton Hall University
University of Arizona
University of Arkansas
University of Kansas
University of Minnesota
University of Nebraska
University of North Texas
University of Texas
Wake Forrest University
Western Kentucky University
Wheaton College

(note: the list itself has footnotes for roughly half of the universities so its important you read those and check with the university itself).

I hope this helps. I apologize for any relevant omissions.

I don’t mean to imply that either:
1) those college bound students with dyslexia should avoid the ACT/SAT
2) these colleges of necessity have good programs for dyslexic students, however theses colleges and universities provide the flexibility needed for some university students to have a quality chance at a top notch education.

It its truly unfortunate, however, that some highly ranked and respected universities have chosen not to join this list. On the plus side, as time goes on this list will grow and those that I included are really just the tip of the iceberg (I limited it to about 36 or so universities vs. the list of almost 300).

Feel free to leave your questions and suggestions about dyslexia in college, university, or career in the comments section below.



Leave a Comment
  1. Kildonan School / Nov 15 2010 4:54 pm

    Great post. I think it is very important that you (or someone with dyslexia) enroll in a university that has accommodations for students with dyslexia. Otherwise, you may not have lived up to your full potential.

  2. Denniey Snyder / Dec 17 2013 2:25 pm

    I have dyslexia and attend Brigham Young University. While it does require an SAT/ACT for getting in the Accessibility Department is amazing. They provide Kurzweil computer software, books scanned to Kurzweil format, notetakers, extended time on tests, different test formats, etc..
    There are options for taking SAT/ACT as well. You can arrange to get extra time and additional other helps on these tests and the GRE.

  3. Patricia perez / May 27 2015 4:09 pm

    Hi my name is Patricia perez and I was supposed to go to college in 2014 in January but instead I decided to work .but now I am going to college maybe on January 2015 but I really scared because I have dyslexia and I scared the going to make because I am really need a lost of work and math and reading but I am scared the teacher will get mad with me because I stay after school every single day and ask for them for help and I so afraid the i may always get c or just fault college

  4. compassioninpolitics / Jun 26 2015 8:38 pm

    Patricia and other people like her,

    Here are five suggestions addressing for your needs and concerns:
    1) Keep your head up. You’ve gotten this far. You can do it.
    2) Be persistent.
    3) Consider getting someone to hold you accountable on a weekly basis
    4) Ask questions and for help when you need it. Your teachers are there to help you and answer your questions.
    5) Seek out Learning Services on campus. They can tell you all the resources that are available on campus and help you navigate any challenges with individual professors.

    Take care,

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