College Placement Specialist?

Posted by: Pemberley

College Placement Specialist? - 05/21/20 09:55 AM

Has anyone hired a private college placement specialist to aid their 2e child?

I recently attended a webinar hosted by a local sped attorney on the topic of transition planning. His guest was a ďTransition SpecialistĒ and it got me thinking. Having someone who is familiar with navigating the process might prove very helpful.

So far Iíve been thinking in 4 ways -

First to look at a college like Landmark in Vermont which is 100% dedicated to students with special needs. (It started focusing on language based learning disabilities but now also serves students with ADHD and Autism as well.) They require a neuropsych or psycho ed eval with the student application and all supports are included in their rather hefty tuition. I donít know how many other dedicated colleges like this exist or if they would be able to meet DDís gifted needs. Hoping a placement specialist might know of others,

Second to look at starting at a community college so she can adjust to the college experience before heading off on her own. (DD completed a grade acceleration so will finish HS at a young age. We might be able to postpone until her 17th birthday but not by much.) Her math disability is tough to overcome so I thought about maybe completing math requirements this way and having them transfer in. She also has significant processing issues and relies heavily on assistive technology so large chaotic environments can be tough for her. Her current school teaches everything 1-1 so is perfect for her but she will have to learn to adapt to a regular classroom setting. Our local CC has an expensive special transition program usually paid by local school districts. A friendís daughter made the mistake of accepting her diploma so she wasnít eligible for district payment, Again thinking a placement specialist should be able to guide us so we donít make a similar mistake.

Third looking for colleges that have specialized embedded programs to meet the needs of sped students. Iíve heard of these programs but feel a bit overwhelmed trying to determine which might be right for DD or even how to find them. Iím concerned that most of these programs may be geared towards students on the spectrum (which DD is not). Her executive functioning and social skills are strong - we would need a program thatís appropriate for her rather than for generic special needs students.

Fourth everyone tells me over and over that all colleges will offer accommodations as long as DD advocates for herself. I donít feel itís a good idea to drop her in on her own without appropriate scaffolding though. Again Iím hoping a transition or college placement specialist who has a background in special needs would help navigate the process so she can be set up for success.

So has anyone used someone like this? I realize the simple thing would be to approach the woman from the webinar (sheís local) but I hate going in blind. I donít even know what to google to learn more about this. I went to her website and there was no mention of costs, etc. Iím also wondering how hard it would be to find someone well versed in 2e rather than just special needs placement. I obviously donít want to be sold a service that isnít right for us.

If anyone has any experience, info or BTDT advice I would love to hear from you.

TIA
Posted by: aeh

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/21/20 11:08 AM

Off the top of my head, I would consider looking at Dean College in MA. They have the Arch program, which is as much like K-12 inclusive special education for true college-level content as I have seen, without being a special ed school.
https://www.dean.edu/support-success/stu...ning-community/

Extra cost for the program, of course, but those of whom I know who have sent children or attended themselves report that it was worth it. Individual and group support, and targets SLDs, mostly (must be at least average cognitively).

"Ideal Arch candidates are students who have a discrepancy between measured intelligence and achievement that is directly related to their diagnosed disability."

Also, as you say, every post-secondary institution that takes federal funds is required to provide disabilities accommodations. Even the community college has a disability services office. What that looks like, of course, is highly variable. So yes, if she has a specific field of study in mind, or other college characteristics (size, urban/rural, region, etc.), it may be helpful to find a college consultant with 2e experience. You have a singularity among singularities, so I would expect a perfect fit will be a challenge, (even at the consultant level) but the right resource may be able to connect you to other right resources with the information you need. I think the place to start would probably be the local person, mainly to help you compile a list of questions you should be asking of disability service offices.
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/21/20 10:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Pemberley

Fourth everyone tells me over and over that all colleges will offer accommodations as long as DD advocates for herself. I donít feel itís a good idea to drop her in on her own without appropriate scaffolding though. Again Iím hoping a transition or college placement specialist who has a background in special needs would help navigate the process so she can be set up for success.


I am not in the US, so I can't speak to the US colleges. But where I am, I was repeatedly told that universities are so much better than schools at accommodations, it would be easier once she actually got there... I believed this to an extent. I trusted we would not have to work quite so hard. But I certainly expected to need to advocate carefully and was concerned about our child suddenly having to do it all on their own, when we'd fought all the battles at school.

I helped her fill out the online form to start the application process (ie "Oh that box means they want a copy of this report"). And I went to her first meeting as a support person and let her run it. I did add a few comments with background information once or twice (maybe she didn't recognise a term for a support she did use at highschool, etc). But mostly I sat back and tried not to fall of my chair in shock.

EVERYTHING she had had at school, without a single question. They checked she had appropriate professional reports to support those requests and that was it, TICK! And then... "OH, what about adaptive formatting? How would you like your tests and exams laid out? Do you want a special font? Do you need X? Y? Z? What if I set up a meeting with a member of our formatting team? You really should meet them at least once. And we can do this, and we can do that..."

It really makes no sense at all to me, that supports we had to fight tooth and nail for, let alone things that there is NO WAY we could have gotten for the little girl whose giftedness was utterly overwhelmed by her disabilities... are suddenly falling from the sky only AFTER she's reached the point that she doesn't need most of them. Things I had never heard of, supports I had never imagined... That we didn't ask for.

"Are you really sure you just need extra time and typing? You can come back and ask for other things if you have any problems!!"... It is so-freaking-hard to get extra time and typing provisions for highschool... and uni is worried it's not enough and really they should be doing all this extra great stuff that they know how to do... It's surreal.

More than once I have had professionals comment that kids that were as behind as she was don't catch up, they just get further and further behind. She caught up, then she got ahead. That's because she's gifted, not just LD, it's also because she worked so hard, and so did I, with her and for her. WHY is it so hard at school and so easy at uni?
Posted by: aeh

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/22/20 08:33 AM

Why? Well in the USA, it's likely because unis want your tuition dollars, so once admitted, they have more of an investment in retention of a student. Public K-12 schools get a certain amount of money per student, and a certain additional amount per special education student (nothing additional for 504 accommodation students), regardless of the level of service offered. Resources are zero-sum. More service for this student means less available for the next student. And you pay for all of those assistive tech licenses. This is also why certain supports are sometimes more available in high needs schools than in moderate need schools: as with free/reduced lunch, once your population exceeds a certain percentage of qualifying students, there are provisions for declaring the whole school qualifying, and subsidizing across the board. Similarly for Title I reading/mathematics academic support for at-risk learners. Or, for licenses, it becomes more cost-effective to purchase an unlimited site license than per-student or per-classroom.

Less cynically, it's also because basic skills are not the focus of post-secondary education, and the most commonly restricted accommodations generally bridge basic skills gaps. Ironically, it also reflects litigation history, where families have felt that accommodating too early was depriving their children of opportunities for skill remediation, resulting in institutional reluctance to offer those types of accommodations. (There is, of course, legitimacy to both sides of this argument.)

This question is also why our particular public school decided years ago to make certain accommodations that are often specialized in other schools universal in ours. Our state-wide mandated testing is starting to catch up to that a little bit, and also has added a much wider range of accommodations available without proof of disability than in the past.

But it is still quite variable across universities, since the federal regulations leave implementation very much in the hands of schools.

Also, remember that the age of the student is irrelevant--once they are enrolled in a college/university, you as the parent have no rights whatsoever to access their records or communicate with the school regarding their situation, unless your child expressly gives you written permission. It doesn't matter if the student isn't old enough to drive, vote, or sign a legal document (ironically, since how can they legally consent to you viewing their records?)--or have their own iCloud account, for that matter. So make sure you get all that out of the way for written communications, or be present for all conversations the school has with your child.
Posted by: puffin

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/23/20 01:55 AM

But outside the US the universities are state funded in much the same way as schools and providing extra services cuts into their finances.
Posted by: Wren

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/23/20 04:09 AM

I do not have a child with special needs, but when I was touring schools in NYC, there was one that was known to deal with all kinds of needs. Special technology, one on one assistants. I do not know what high schools deal with this, but this one particular public school was tailored for special needs kids. It was a mixed school. So most kids did not have special needs. And the classrooms with kids with special needs were a max of 10 kids.
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/23/20 07:58 PM

AEH Our school vs. university models are not like the US. Although university is becoming more so, in particularly with regard to our universities' increasing dependence on high fee paying overseas students.

We have far higher rates of children attending private schooling than I believe is the case in the US (about 30%) but our universities are almost entirely public, there are fees, but it is common to defer fee payment via a government loan which is indexed but interest free, and repaid via taxes only when the student's income is above a certain threshold (and repayment rate is variable based on income: 1% of your income once you are earning over $46k, moving up to 10% of income once you are earning $135k or above). Overseas student fees are completely different.

My child who has moved from a private high school to arguably the most prestigious university in the country will pay her own uni fees retrospectively, but it should not be financially crippling to do so. And those fees are, from memory, less than half what we were paying p/a for her schooling last year, possibly about a third. I feel like I looked at them when she signed the paper work and declared that her whole BSc degree would cost her what her last year of school cost us.

Also it's far less common to move away to university here. The vast majority of students go to their local institutions. There are boarding colleges, which are used by overseas, rural or interstate students. They are not, from what I understand, actually owned by the universities but are private establishments placed near universities. Also many such students just move into share houses, stay with family, etc. So universities are not set up around directly profiting from boarding.

Our experience of schooling here is that students with significant obvious disabilities are more likely to be well served in the public school system. Where as 2e children will have somewhat more chance of support at the most expensive private schools, who will put resources into helping every child achieve the results they build their reputations on (to justify their fees). Some private schools also do well with children with more obvious "traditional" disabilities, but others you would not be surprised to never see such a student. Generally private schools pay their teachers more, have better staff:student ratios, teachers have more non contact hours for planning and marking, and there is more chance the school will provide special ed services to a child who is not failing. The public system will not provide any supports to a child who is passing, just because they are performing woefully below potential. Also, if you have a child who needs keyboarding during primary years, there is a far higher likelihood of device use being common and/or supported at a private school. This is changing, with ipads at least becoming common (or even required) at public schools in some areas during primary years. But certainly 6 years ago when we moved one of our children to private school for yr4 the need for laptop use was a factor, sending a laptop to her public school would have been very problematic.

I have a friend with cerebral palsy who is a lecturer in the law department of one of the three major uni's where I grew up (two of which teach law). My take after talking to her recently, and from dealing with schools, is that universities are much more aware of their legal responsibilities with regard to student protections under disability law. Or, conversely that the majority of parents and school teachers have little to no idea of how our disability laws relate to education, but universities do...

I think there is a massive disconnect between what our laws say (somewhat vaguely) and what schools consider themselves to be required to do. I am genuinely of the belief that most teachers and school leadership are unaware of what the legal requirements actually are. I had no idea until very recently.
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/23/20 08:03 PM

Also, things like allowing typing or extra time require almost no cost for a school to allow, they just seem morally opposed (the device would have to be provided by the parents/student whether it was school or university). Even providing different fonts or differently formatted exams are fairly low cost offerings. These things are not at all in the same cost ball park as a full time aide or a scribe...

It really does feel like schools consider things like extra time, typing, etc to be "cheating" or "trying to get away with something" and the universities consider these things to be reasonable accommodations so that one can access the curriculum equally.
Posted by: aeh

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/24/20 05:19 PM

I hear you...part of it I think may reflect the same forces behind the phenomenon of grade school textbooks always being about 20 years behind...a lot of K-12 institutions don't appear to have absorbed the reality that the post-secondary world uses (assistive) technology as a matter of course. It's not even an accommodation. And flipped and online classrooms, with their online, remote-administered assessments, typically allow a good two-hour window to complete an assessment that could be finished in half an hour by a B student. Since they're remote, they almost always allow open notes and calculators as a matter of course. (They do have checks built in...you usually can't go to another site mid-test; if you do, the test will kick you out and consider the assessment done.) And they design them with internal checks for irregularities. Or to emphasize more applications and problem solving, and less rote fact-spewing.

Perhaps if all K-12 education also emphasized application and problem-solving over rote fact-spewing they would be more comfortable with accommodations...
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/24/20 06:06 PM

Originally Posted By: MumOfThree

It really does feel like schools consider things like extra time, typing, etc to be "cheating" or "trying to get away with something" and the universities consider these things to be reasonable accommodations so that one can access the curriculum equally.


I suspect this does have some impact on the issue of extra time. Rightly or wrongly, the goal in secondary school, for many students in this country, is to maximise their ATAR score to successfully compete for places in highly sought courses at Uni. Many students attend coaching colleges to help achieve this goal. The selective school entrance exam was extremely fast paced such that students who attended coaching colleges were advantaged mainly by the time management skills they picked up by doing a practice exam every week whereas DS who has never attended a coaching college and has outperformed selective school students at the Maths Olympiad, did not finish the SS exam. He just managed to finish the HSC maths exam last year without a second to spare for checking his answers (he thought he had been able to answer every question but his score of 98 would suggest he made at least one or two silly mistakes). Thus extra time for exams would be carefully scrutinised at primary & secondary school level. Once the student is at Uni, the goal for the individual is to complete their degree, which is not a competitive process.
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/25/20 01:30 AM

Originally Posted By: Eagle Mum
Thus extra time for exams would be carefully scrutinised at primary & secondary school level.

My understanding is that the evidence shows that extra time really doesn't benefit those who don't need it. You are right of course that for certain tests time pressure is part of the test to sift out the top 1-5%... Particularly in math I would say.

The extra time is so that you can show what you know, if you are slower than others for a diagnosable reason. The extra time makes no difference if you don't actually have any knowledge to show...

Also note that extra time is actually exhausting. If a 3 hr exam becomes 3hrs45 mins, and that happens twice in one day you are doing 1.5hrs more exams per day than your peers, with less break... Sometimes this problem becomes so severe that something gets moved, other times it's just the price you pay for needing extra time. The whole of last year involved multiple experiments in making sure that allowed accommodations were actually beneficial and whether they should or should not be used for each subject.

I have another child who has multiple professionals recommending extra time and they just won't use it. Maybe by the time they get to the end of highschool. If we can keep them in school that long...

Originally Posted By: Eagle Mum
Once the student is at Uni, the goal for the individual is to complete their degree, which is not a competitive process.

Well, accessing honors years, graduate courses (especially graduate medicine!) it can be extremely competitive. And many of the courses that now exist with guaranteed placement in the next degree for high achieving school leavers have requirements about maintaining a certain GPA. For kids on track to careers requiring graduate degrees they need to stay competitive the whole way through their undergraduate degree too. My first year uni student is certainly pretty grateful this semester won't count to their final GPA because of COVID. Pretty harsh to have only 2 weeks of starting uni in person and then isolation... Other than that, there is no sense that the pressure is off after highschool.
Posted by: Eagle Mum

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/26/20 05:38 AM

Iím not sure if Iíve understood your post correctly, but my understanding is that University courses are demanding but generally the atmosphere of competitiveness is not there. Maintaining a high GPA requires achieving high marks but in the handful of universities where I have social contacts, Iíve not heard of any instances where a student with a high GPA couldnít enrol in a further degree because they were competitively beaten out by others with higher GPA scores (Iím not saying it hasnít happened but itís nothing like the education arms race of OC/SS/HSC). On the other hand, there are 18 000 UMAT candidates competing for only about 1500 domestic places for undergraduate medicine (half the courses are now postgrad for which the GAMSAT exam is applicable) and even fewer dental places. My daughter has Uni peers who were heavily coached to achieve the HSC marks to get into their medicine course, who are now satisfied with marginal pass grades because at the end of the course, that is enough to get them their medical degree (very cynical approach to life IMO).

WRT to the extremely competitive tests to get into opportunity classes, for each of the maths, English & aptitude tests, there are 35 questions per paper with 30 minutes allowed. Success requires extremely (almost ridiculously) tight time management for kids as young as 8. It is in this context that I make the observation that many schools are really cautious about arranging for extra time. I suspect that if they allow 45 minutes for each paper, the make up of these classes would be different - more students with innate abilities who havenít been coached (OC & SS teachers have confided these same suspicions to me). Therefore, I favour less time restrictions, but generally there has been little resistance to restrictions because contrary to sifting for the really top students, it gives others a better chance because improved speed is more amenable through coaching than other facets of intelligence.
Posted by: Mana

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/26/20 10:49 PM

Wow, I am so glad to see that your DD is heading to college soon!

What about colleges that have "open curriculum?" I think she'd thrive in places that would let her explore her own interests in depth:

https://www.grinnell.edu/academics

I would be careful about community college since too many credits could mean that you have to apply as a transfer student and that sometimes isn't a good thing.
Posted by: spaghetti

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/27/20 09:07 AM

As a parent of a 2E who has followed yours over the years (mine are in college now!), I have a few thoughts FWIW.

First, what does your DD want to do with her life? What does she want to experience in college? What are her college goals? Before looking at colleges, get her to narrow things down for you. It was like pulling teeth here so I had specific questions that must be answered by a specific date: Where do you want to be (away from home, at home, far away, etc). What do you think you want to major in? How sure are you (do you need a school with a lot of flexibility for changing or might you do OK with a single focus-- like engineering, or art, or one of the other specialties. What does she see herself doing for a career? How much education, how competitive, what is the path?

Second, After you've given her a chance to dream a bit, help her find some colleges that might meet her needs. Small? Big? Rural? Have her major? After looking a bit, make a list of what's important for a college -- good for 2E?, athletic facilities? Dorm life? Distance? Weather?

Third, Once you narrow it down, VISIT-- yeah, it's hard right now, but most colleges have virtual tours to get you started. And admissions will often give you a student contact if you ask (Not Colorado School of Mines-- the only one that had an unhelpful admissions and didn't get either of my kids due to this despite loving the school). Some may even offer an overnight experience.

By now, you should have narrowed down to 6 or less. Definitely look at your state school, and at your community college. My 2E went away to school and then came back for community college and then went back. Small school, very 2 E friendly and accommodating. We investigated our large state school too, and that would have been "ok".

IOW, keep an open mind. She may thrive at a 2E school, and it may be the best for her, but don't limit her yet. Make sure that there isn't a situation where she'd meet a wider variety of students. (I worked with a girl who absolutely needed a 2E school-- and thrived there).
Posted by: MumOfThree

Re: College Placement Specialist? - 05/27/20 05:27 PM

Originally Posted By: Eagle Mum
My daughter has Uni peers who were heavily coached to achieve the HSC marks to get into their medicine course, who are now satisfied with marginal pass grades because at the end of the course, that is enough to get them their medical degree (very cynical approach to life IMO).


I think that there is definitely more of a relaxed approach to getting through uni if you don't need your bachelor degree to feed into a competitive masters program (or graduate medicine). I am sure the first year direct entry med students are all exhaling...But they will need to be competitive to get the specialization they want, to varying degrees depending on what that is, so I imagine the effort for grades will come back. And we are certainly of the impression those students doing a bachelor degree on the way to a competitive graduate program need to be working very hard to get in... We'll see in a few years I guess.

We are totally derailing this thread though :-(


Originally Posted By: Eagle Mum
WRT to the extremely competitive tests to get into opportunity classes, for each of the maths, English & aptitude tests, there are 35 questions per paper with 30 minutes allowed. Success requires extremely (almost ridiculously) tight time management for kids as young as 8. It is in this context that I make the observation that many schools are really cautious about arranging for extra time. I suspect that if they allow 45 minutes for each paper, the make up of these classes would be different - more students with innate abilities who havenít been coached (OC & SS teachers have confided these same suspicions to me). Therefore, I favour less time restrictions, but generally there has been little resistance to restrictions because contrary to sifting out the really top students, it gives others a better chance because improved speed is more amenable through coaching than other facets of intelligence.


Now that is a peculiarly NSW issue... and to a limited extent in some other places. And does make it clearer to me why NSW are more draconian about typing and extra time compared to some other states. Or the IB for that matter, the IB board are very reasonable.