Learning Services Program for Freshmen with Learning Disabilities
The Learning Services Program in the Academic Support Center has earned a national reputation for providing outstanding service to students with learning disabilities for almost 25 years. The Learning Services Program is a small, mainstream program offering weekly individual meetings with the program coordinator, a reserved section of the freshman writing class and weekly meetings with a tutor for the class, assistance with accommodations and technology, and free course content tutoring, as needed. It is a one-year program for which there is a $2,500 fee. After the freshman year, the Academic Support Center continues to provide assistance, as requested, until graduation.
Benefits of the Learning Services Program
All students can profit from developing more efficient reading, writing, and study skills, but for students with learning disabilities, these skills are crucial. Often the compensatory strategies that have worked for students in the past are no longer relevant to meeting the demands of college-level courses and the program staff can help students develop new strategies.
Qualifications for Admission to American University
The academic credentials of successful applicants with learning disabilities fall within the range of general admissions criteria, recognizing that students with learning disabilities have varied profiles.
Profile of Students Admitted to AU for Fall 2012
- GPA Middle 50%: 3.57-4.04 (school reported)
- SAT Middle 50%: 1210-1380 (critical reading and mathematics)
- ACT Middle 50%: 27-31 (composite)
Applying to the Learning Services Program
Applicants to the Learning Services program must submit an application for freshman admission to American University through the regular admissions process.
Students applying to the program must also submit the following materials to the LSP Coordinator in the Academic Support Center:
- the LSP supplementary application with essay
- a copy of a high school transcript
- documentation of the learning disability. (See Guidelines for Documentation of Learning Disabilities for details.)
The LSP application materials should be submitted at the same time as the freshman application, adhering to these deadlines:
- Early Decision - November 15
- Early Decision 2 - January 15
- Regular Decision - January 15
- Early Decision - November 15
- Early Decision 2 - December 1
- Regular Decision - December 1
Services for All Students with LD or ADHD
The Academic Support Center provides services and assistance with accommodations for any student with learning disabilities or ADHD. Such services include individual sessions with an Academic Support Center counselor, writing assistance, peer tutor referrals (for a modest fee), and study skills workshops. Students may make arrangements to take accommodated exams in the ASC. The availability of the program coordinator and writing tutor, and the special design of the College Writing classes, are the primary factors that distinguish the Learning Services Program from traditional support services for all other students.
Learning Services Program FAQ's
What happens during weekly meetings in the ASC?
The program coordinator meets weekly with students in individual sessions to assist with accommodations and to help further develop college-level reading, writing, and study strategies. In addition, students can address issues regarding time management, transition to college, and self-advocacy.
Is there support available after the first year?
After the first year, students in the Learning Services Program generally transfer to another Academic Support Center counselor for academic support and assistance with accommodations. Academic Support Center services and Campus Life resources are available to all students.
How do students get help with course content?
Students having difficulty with the material in a particular course, as opposed to the basic skills necessary to be successful in the course, can request a peer tutor to help learn the subject matter. These tutors are undergraduate or graduate students who have been screened by Tutoring Services, also located in the Academic Support Center. Learning Services Program participants can request tutors without charge throughout their years at American University.
Are there resources to help students manage personal concerns?
The transition from high school to college is a major one. An important goal of the program is to help students cope with that transition. Students seeking support for personal concerns may use the Counseling Center, which offers individual appointments, group counseling, workshops, and referrals to professionals in the Washington area. A part-time psychiatrist, located in the Student Health Center, is available for medication management.
Who advises students about their courses and requirements?
Academic advisors in each school or college are assigned to work with incoming freshmen, and they collaborate with the coordinator of the Learning Services Program in assigning classes to first-year students. Freshmen enrolled in the program have the same course requirements as all other students, including College Writing. It is recommended that students enrolled in the program take 12-14 credits per semester, at least during the first semester or year. The university recognizes full-time status as 12-17 credits.
How do students notify their professors about accommodations needed?
Academic advisors are notified of the students in the Learning Services Program, so that they can be advised according to individual needs. With a student's written request each semester, letters will be prepared for the professors a student wishes to inform of their learning disability. Professors are accustomed to receiving this information and will respect your privacy. With a student's permission, the staff of the program is also available to speak with professors and advisors, as needed. Confidentiality is an important policy of the Academic Support Center and students decide whether to inform others of their learning disability. Faculty, of course, will need to be notified if accommodations are requested. Any data shared outside the center regarding the Learning Services Program is group data only and is used anonymously.
What classroom accommodations are available?
All modifications are based upon your diagnostic testing, educational recommendations, history of accommodations, and specific course requirements. Possible accommodations may include time extensions and use of computers for tests and examinations. Textbooks on tape are available through Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D) or by accessing e-texts with text-to-speech software, such as Kurzweil. If you plan to request this accommodation, we suggest you determine prior to college the best approach for you and make the necessary arrangements. Accommodations are made with the understanding that every student is held to the same academic standards, although students with learning disabilities may meet these standards through nontraditional means.
What technology support is available?
The Academic Support Center computer testing room is reserved for students with disabilities who use it primarily for exams. There are also computers with text-to-speech and speech-to-text software in the ASC and at selected sites on campus. We recommend that students not only are proficient in computer skills, but have investigated assistive technology options prior to coming to college.
What is the fee for participating in the Learning Services Program?
There is a one-time fee of $2,500 for the freshman program paid at the time of the first tuition bill. The fee also covers additional tutoring costs for as long as a student is enrolled at the university. The university reserves the right to change the Learning Services Program fee at any time.
How well can I expect to do at American University?
Overall, students in the Learning Services Program have been successful in their studies. Typically, the overall grade point average for the freshman year has been close to 3.0. Many of our students go on to pursue graduate and professional degrees. The Learning Services Program offers the support and services you will need to achieve your goals. The real answer to the question of how well you can expect to do is up to you!