Colleges Open To Students’ Learning Challenges

By: Jessica Brauser, M.S., LMSW

If “special needs” or “autism” is in your regular vocabulary, the Colleges that Change Lives (CTCL) list is something about which you should know. This network of schools shines for its ability to foster holistic growth amongst its students. Part of its beauty is that these colleges are terrific for all students, not just those with labels, diagnoses, and conditions. The CTCL schools re open to students with learning challenges and offer a broad spectrum of resources to assist students of all learning backgrounds while encouraging deep relationships between students and professors.  Since I first learned about this network a decade ago, their list has remained stable. The commitment to student wellness is strong, and thousands of students with or without learning challenges benefit from that mission.

In a recent CBS Network segment called, “Hiring Autistic Workers”, the issue of unemployment amongst educated individuals with special needs is explored. It states rightfully that many autistic students do well in college and graduate, but struggle to take place in the workforce because of their style of socializing and communicating. Fortunately, in the past five years, major corporations such as Microsoft and SAP, have initiated specialized programs to incorporate autistic workers into their task forces and welcome their unique talents into their communities.

This movement gives me hope as both a college consultant and a parent. I care deeply about children’s success, and I want to know that they will succeed even when the scaffolds of support dissipate after high school and college graduations.  I believe that this initiative to change the way autistic individuals are judged in the workforce, and both college admissions, is an incredible step forward for modern society. I meet so many high school students with incredible talents, but I recognize that communication and socialization can be impediments to their success. For them, and those who care about them, knowing that there is hope for a career after their education, is incredibly empowering.

Outside of the CTCL list, there are many other excellent universities that are open to students’ learning challenges and offer specialized programs. for One of my student’s mothers called me last year to tell me that her son was welcomed into a unique learning program at the University of Alabama, which is not on the Colleges That Change Lives List but is making its way to become a leader in this space of specialized education. I worked with her son who struggled in high school to create an excellent essay that communicated who he is as a person, and without otherwise direct solicitation, University of Alabama recognized this student as a good fit for their program.  I do believe that colleges and universities recognize more now than ever that talent comes in many forms of intelligence and experience; it’s not just about test scores and accolades anymore. Schools—and employers after that—are welcoming your children, and if anything, that should give you hope and a bit of excitement about the opportunities and experiences that await.

For more information about CTCL schools, go here or Contact College Connections  to speak with a consultant about how your child can succeed in college admissions.

To watch the CBS Network segment, click here and enjoy: Hiring Autistic Workers

Jessica Brauser, M.S., LMSW is an admissions consultant at College Connections. She studied Child Development at Tufts University and Social Work at Columbia University.