When should a prospective student make contact with the disability support office?

As part our College Q & A guide, we decided to ask your questions to the experts. Here are their answers.

Bill Pruden, Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Disability Support–Get in Touch Before You Decide While disability support is mandated by law there will always be variations and each school will operate in its own distinctive way. Consequently, it is best to be sure you are familiar with a school’s approach and procedures before you commit. For a student for whom accommodations will be a part of their experience, it is important to know how it is handled and to feel comfortable with that approach. Be sure to check it out as a part of the initial exploration process, and then nail down any lingering questions as you are making your final decision. It is too important to not be fully aware of how the process operates before you commit to attending.

Stacey Kostell, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, University of Illinois

Yes! I think it is important for students to make contact with the disability office. This helps you determine if you are comfortable with the people in the office and the procedures for handling student’s with disabilities. There are vast differences in disability offices and this will be one of the factors in the college you choose. I often hear students expressing concern about talking with the disability office because they fear it will hurt their application. I have not found this to be the case.

Lisa Carlton, Owner, www.collegematchpoint.com

The college search process can be more involved for students with disabilities. When you start researching colleges, you should review the list of services they offer to students with disabilities. Through each university website, you should be able to find a list of what is provided. You should contact the offices that handle disability services when you decide where you want to submit an application. Communicate directly with them to discuss the details of what they can offer. For example, at Illinois there are a wide variety of services for students with disabilities and the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) can work with you to discover what you need and the best way to provide assistance. This type of information is important to have before you apply and especially before you accept an offer of admission.

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