Large Public Universities and Support Services
Many students, who have disabilities, especially as defined by Section 504 under the ADA, are worried about the support services in a very large public American College or University. No need. Although many students with dyslexia, ADHD and learning disabilities, who have attended smaller private high schools, are used to direct access to teachers and very hands on support by Learning Specialists and counselors, there is no need to fear that effective support is not available in very large schools.
First let’s discuss very large public schools: these Universities have many undergraduate and graduate schools, and their combined undergraduate student body in all of their schools is at least 10,000, and many even have as many as 30,000 students attending the main campus. Most of these large universities have more than one full four year campus. Think schools such as: The University of Michigan, University of California at Los Angeles, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Penn State, etc. All of these schools are public schools, which are defined to have a portion of the costs of running the school paid by some of the State’s tax revenue collected from its residents.
There are no US Public schools for the country as is the case for many countries in Europe. There are several countries that have Nationalistic University systems. European Nationalistic University systems are significantly different than those in the schools in the United States. How the students learn, whether the students live on a campus or even attend classes full-time varies greatly by country. However, most universities in the US have a very similar approach to earning an undergraduate degree. Most schools in the US have on campus housing for at least a couple of years of study, if not all four. The US schools do have some commuter students and part-time as well, and even adult students, but the majority of the student body are attending right after high school for 4, 5 or 6 years, depending on the program of study. The on-campus lifestyle and learning for four full-time years in American schools is the program followed by most schools.
Large public schools, since a portion of their funding comes directly from state residents’ income taxes contribution to the state, offer the state’s residents different tuition fees and some even have different admission requirements. The state residents’ children are typically offered more of the available places at the college, and the full cost of an in-state resident student can be significantly less than those attending from out of state. Arizona State University is one such school that offers free tuition to many qualifying students. And Arizona State has terrific programs for students with disabilities!
Regardless of whether the student with disabilities is coming from within the state or from another state, the accommodations and accessibility offered to help him or her with learning and access at these large schools is provided for any qualifying student. Even those students from foreign countries with disabilities are fully supported during school. Most of these schools have an Office or Center for Accessibility, a Counseling Center, and Technological Support, and Resident Life support services as well. The process to get the accommodations varies by school, but all require the full psychological evaluation and testing (most up-to-date) be provided. Usually an intake form is filled out after acceptance and a one-on-one interview is done with the incoming student. Based on the diagnosis, and other information provided, the ADA Coordinator or Counselor assigned will help the student with how to get specific support services.
There is usually a counseling center therapist offered to such students and a technology coordinator to help the student with specific tools, apps, and other platforms offered online by the professors and the school for the ADA students to gain the most in terms of learning help.
To learn how each school provides such support, please check back for our Supportive Colleges Page, which is under construction but will offer the most specific information by school for you to note quickly and to also gain specific links and phone numbers to the appropriate support people by region.
Please understand that larger schools offer such a huge variety of programs and some of the most cutting edge research in the United States. It is true that in the US, some of the most impressive educational opportunities and true leadership in many fields are, in fact, offered by large public universities. Be reassured that even if you are comfortable with extensive support to help you learn and get through your studies, you can gain the same if not even better in a large public school. So do not feel you cannot apply because the school seems large.