“The college of choice for students with learning disabilities and/or AD/HD”

An article in the 9 January 2011 EducationLife insert of the New York Times described Landmark College: “The college of choice for students with learning disabilities and/or AD/HD.”

Landmark is a two year college in Vermont (US), costing $48000 USD annual tuition. They have 500 students. According to the article, half are recent high school graduates, the other half have tried and failed at regular colleges already. Landmark has 1 teacher for every 5 students.

What results do they have? According to the article, roughly 30% graduate from Landmark. “Of those who received associate degrees and transferred to four-year institutions over the last five years, about a third dropped out, according to data gathered by Landmark. The rest have either graduated or are still working toward bachelor’s degrees.” (p. 18) It would be interesting to compare this to results from more typical colleges of similar size.

The article also mentions Beacon College in Florida (US): “The only accredited college offering BA and AA degrees exclusively for students with learning disabilities, ADHD, or gifted LD.”

Role of college student: Consider the college student role. What expectations, responsibilities and behaviors are part of that role? What ‘good things of life’ does the college student role open the door to? What image and competency enhancement strategies can help to support an individual or group of adults in the college student role?

Heightened vulnerability: What are the students who attend Landmark likely to be vulnerable to? Consider vulnerability in terms of negative stereotypes, devalued roles, lowered expectations, limited opportunities, physical and social distantiation, and so on.

Imagery: The article contains several photos of students. SRV teaches how to look at imagery issues from several angles (setting, personal presentation, grouping, language, etc.). Where are the students in the photos? What possessions do they have? What captions accompany the photos? Do these images reinforce or counter any negative stereotypes of young adults with intellectual impairments and/or functional impairments related to learning? Remember that SRV advocates not only starting with a baseline of what is typical (in this case, typical for college students) but advocates for ‘bending over backwards’ and aiming for what is ideal.

Competency enhancement: The article describes at least some of the college’s educational practices, which relates to the SRV issue of competency development and enhancement (which includes aspects such as grouping, teaching techniques, role modeling, interpersonal interactions, etc.). Do any of these described practices exacerbate heightened vulnerability to further wounding and societal devaluation, and/or heightened vulnerability to the impacts of wounding and devaluation? Do any of these practices counter heightened vulnerability?

Valued social roles: Taking both image and competency enhancement into account, in what ways does Landmark support or even approximate the college student role? In what ways does Landmark fall short of or even obstruct the college student role?

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