The Truth About IEPs & Accommodations in College, with Elizabeth Hamblet

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Have you ever wondered if your child can have an IEP and/or accommodations in college? My guest for this episode, Elizabeth Hamblet, has the answer to this and many more questions about the high school to college transition for differently wired students.

Elizabeth began her career as a high school special education teacher and case manager, and then worked as a learning disabilities specialist at Simmons College and Rutgers University. She is now a learning specialist at Columbia University, where she helps students with time management, organization, reading, and study skills. She also offers programs to families and professionals on transition to college for students with disabilities, speaking locally and at national conferences.This episode is about the transition to college for a differently-wired student, from the point of view of an educator and consultant who specializes in helping atypical kids be successful before, during, and after this transition.

This is a jam-packed episode with lots of insights and takeaways from Elizabeth. And no matter how old your differently wired child is, there a lot of food for thought.

Click here to watch my After the Show video about this episode!


About Elizabeth Hamblet

Elizabeth has worked as a learning disabilities specialist in college disability services offices for two decades.  In addition to working at a university, she is a nationally-requested speaker on preparing students with disabilities for successful college transition.  Hamblet is the author of Seven Steps to College Success: A Pathway for Students with Disabilities and a concise guide on transition, and her work has appeared in numerous journals and online platforms.  She offers advice and information on her website at and shares resources on numerous social media platforms.


Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • The real story behind if, and how, colleges and universities support their differently wired students
  • The difference between accommodations and services in the university setting
  • Whether or not universities recognize IEPs and 504 Plans
  • How to find the best university for your child when it comes to how well their needs will be supported
  • How students can best set themselves up for success throughout the application process
  • What Elizabeth says are the most important factors for ensuring a successful transition from high school to college
  • What parents with younger children can be working on today to support this transition in the future


Resources mentioned for accommodations in college


Episode Transcript

Elizabeth Hamblet  00:00

What’s been really interesting to me is at talks that I’ve given parents have said, well, you know, if I call your office Elizabeth, won’t they pick up the phone when I get off and call admissions, it breaks my heart that this is something that parents are worried about. When I say I can’t blame them. What I mean is that I think that you know, some people have had experiences with others who are not very evolved in their thinking, but I can assure your listeners that I almost never say never in my talks, but I will say that never happens. I’m gonna stand on that one for you. Nobody’s gonna call admissions and say, oh, you know, Elizabeth Hamblet’s mother called, you know, you might want to put her on a list that is not happening.

Debbie Reber  00:45

Welcome to Tilt Parenting podcast, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber. Last fall, I interviewed mother Susan Hyatt about her son launching and starting college at an out of state school and how that transition looked. Today’s episode is also about that transition to college. But this time, from the point of view of an educator and consultant who specializes in helping atypical kids be successful before, during and after this transition. To talk about all this, my guest is Elizabeth Hamblet. Elizabeth began her career as a high school special education teacher and case manager and then worked as a learning disability specialist at Simmons College and Rutgers University. She’s now a learning specialist at Columbia University, where she helps students with time management, organization reading and study skills. She also offers programs to families and professionals on transition to college for students with disabilities, speaking locally and at national conferences. This is a jam packed episode with a lot of insights and takeaways from Elizabeth. And no matter how old your differently wired child is, there is a lot of food for thought. So I wanted to say that Elizabeth and her publisher have donated a copy of Elizabeth’s book, From High School to College: Steps to Success for Students with Disabilities, which has just been released in an update in addition to the show. And so we are doing a giveaway contest to be entered to win Elizabeth’s book, just leave a comment on the show notes page at So thank you to Elizabeth and her publisher Council for Exceptional Children for donating a book. And before I get to the conversation, I wanted to take a minute to say Happy New Year to you. I hope the year to come is one of growth and confidence and goodness for you and your family. I’m not one for making new year’s resolutions. But I do get excited by the possibility of what a new year brings. I’m especially excited that this is the year my book differently wired will be published and I have so many plans we’re getting our message of tolerance and understanding and acceptance of and for our unique kids out into the world. I invite you to stay connected by joining me and until community if you haven’t already, just sign up at tilt parenting calm where it says join the revolution. Oh, and one last thing I wanted to give you a heads up that I have a very special episode coming out next week. This is my conversation with Dr. Dan Siegel, author of The Whole Brain Child, No-Drama Discipline, Mind Sight and his new book The Yes Brain. This was an incredibly generous and insightful interview, and I can’t wait to share it with you. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes so you can get it as soon as it’s released. And now here’s my conversation with Elizabeth. 

Debbie Reber  03:44

Hey, Elizabeth, welcome to the podcast.

Elizabeth Hamblet  03:46

Hi, Debbie. Thanks so much for having me.

Debbie Reber  03:49

Well, thank you for coming on. And I’m really excited about this conversation. And this is definitely a topic that’s been popping up a lot. As we’re recording this. It’s fall. And so I know many families with older kids are in the middle of that college application process. And I’m noticing a lot of maybe myths is the right word, but different beliefs about what that looks like how differently wired kids can be supported. So I’m just excited to dive in. Before we get into all the juicy stuff I would love if you could just introduce us to who you are and what you do in the world and how you got into this line of work.

Elizabeth Hamblet  04:29

Oh, sure. I’m based out of Princeton, New Jersey, but I work part time at Columbia University’s Disability Services Office. And when I’m in the office, I am meeting one on one with students which is my favorite part of my job working on anything they really want to do, but I will you know, honestly say a lot of it is time management, reading comprehension strategies, some organization and often writing when students bring that to me The rest of my time spent for Columbia is in reviewing students requests for accommodation. So I read more than 100 reports a year for them in that capacity. And we have a two step process where myself and my colleagues, you know, read the documentation, look at what the students asked for, say what we recommend, and then it’s approved or not, or, you know, modified by a director. So that’s the other part. And in the days that I’m not doing my Columbia work, I am writing or traveling the country presenting about this topic of how to prepare students for a successful college transition. And I enjoy that work the parts where I get out and meet people also tremendously.

Debbie Reber  05:45

Well, I’m sure people are so anxious to hear what you have to say, it really is kind of a mystery for so many of us and figuring out how to navigate that I’m sure parents are very happy to hear whatever you have to say,

Elizabeth Hamblet  05:58

Well, I think too, you know, when you started off by saying that there are a lot of Miss I, you know, I do get questions all the time. And things come to me through You know, sometimes they’ll send me a question, just to explain to families why sometimes there’s just not much information, I was trained as a high school and middle school special education teacher back in the mid 90s. And those trainings, you know, my training and the programs that still are out there don’t generally cover for these, you know, teachers and training, what will happen for their students when they go to college. So through no fault of their own, the teachers and the administrators may not have access, you know, or ever had any kind of training about how the laws shift when their students move to college. And so unless they have some sort of personal interaction with that, either as students with special needs themselves, or as the parents of students like that, they just don’t have the information. And so you know, that sort of leaves it to the internet, and word of mouth to fill the gap. And I, you know, I think there’s a lot of well meaning people who are trying to help out, but they don’t always understand how things work, or they kind of misinterpret things that they see. So I think that that accounts for a lot of confusion, which is why I’m here.

Debbie Reber  07:19

That makes so much sense. Well, even in your introduction of telling us about your day job at Columbia University. Is that that role that you have? Is that something that most universities have in place? Tell us about that?

Elizabeth Hamblet  07:34

Thank you for asking that question. No, it’s a highly unusual setup that my students can see me for free, or many of my colleagues, you know, for an hour one on one. And you’re so right to point out, this is something that is not typically offered, although, you know, I am starting to hear that more and more colleges are offering, you know, certain kinds of assistance coaching, or what they’re calling learning specialists to students. But I would just put that out there with the caveat that it’s not like K through 12 public systems where, you know, I had to be certified in my area of specialty in order to teach in that area, at the college level, they can call whoever they like an academic coach, or a learning specialist. I and my colleagues all have backgrounds in special education where you know, trained in that area, we’ve worked in that area before coming to the college level. So, you know, as you’ve pointed out, most schools or I would say a lot of schools don’t have anybody like us, but their tutoring center might have what they call academic coaches. But there are also fee for service programs, like the ones you know, some of my favorites are Northeastern University in Boston, the salt Center at the University of Arizona, where students can for a fee, get access to a specialist, you know, often more than once a week plus, you know, additional services that they might offer. But it isn’t that, you know, because I work at Columbia’s your, your listeners should come away thinking well, she works at a private university. And so that’s why they do this. And you know, so my kids should go to a private university to get that or that I work at, you know, a highly selective university. And so they must all do that. I will just let your listeners know, it is really an individualized decision from college to college, whether or not to go beyond the minimum that the law requires of those offices in offering things like access to a learning specialist. So you really have to do your research when looking at each school and you know, in a positive way, I would say not make assumptions that a place will not have certain kinds of services versus accommodations, which we can talk about in a minute, you know, that go beyond what what the law requires just because they think you know, a school falls into a certain kind of category.

Debbie Reber  09:57

So what does the law require?

Elizabeth Hamblet  10:00

That’s a good question. I’m very little to be quite honest. And what I mean by that is just that it’s not this is not IDEA anymore, which is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that provides for, you know, really wide ranging and encompassing services from Child Find all the way through, you know, individualized supports. And for some students, you know, a one on one aid, the demands of the laws in place at college are very different. And essentially, whereas, you know, the intent of Ida is to provide specialized education, and just, this is only my view. And to really maximize what a student’s potential is, while she’s in K through 12. The intents of the other two laws are to prevent and avoid discrimination. And so we are required to provide accommodations, and I really tried to make the distinction between accommodations versus services. So accommodations very commonly will include and this is anywhere that you know, students will go extended time to take a test permission to record a class, perhaps access, well, if not access to the software that would you know, speech to text software that would read text aloud, at least they have to make the resources, the books and the PDFs, you know, whatever article files, the professors want the students to read, accessible to, you know, a screen reader or text to speech kind of program. And, you know, I’ll start for your listeners who have children who don’t have LD learning disabilities, or ADHD, ADHD, which is, you know, my my primary area, obviously, for students with sensory disabilities, like visual disabilities and hearing disabilities, there are other accommodations, obviously, sign language interpreting or captioning, things like that. For students with physical and mobility impairments, there are adapted dorm rooms and chairs, and even lab tables that colleges have to put in place. And again, that’s to accommodate them. And so the difference in what we would call services are things like access to a person like me, which is a very different kind of thing. And that is not what’s required in the law. And in fact, the laws specifically say that we don’t have to provide what’s called a personal service. So students who are accustomed to having a one on one aid says they can get one approved, if it’s appropriate, you know, according to the college, but the college will not find that person employ that person or have anything to do with that person besides approving that. And if you know, if all people on campus have to pass a security check, you know, having that person do the same.

Debbie Reber  12:50

Thank you for explaining that difference between accommodations and services. That’s an important distinction. So I’m just writing down so many questions, and I’m going to try to ask these in a logical order for you, okay?

Elizabeth Hamblet  13:03

Okay, we’ll just roll with it.

Debbie Reber  13:06

I guess I mean, taking a step back. And I don’t even know if this question makes sense. But I’m really just curious what the overall climate is, like, among colleges and universities towards kids who are differently wired, you know, generally speaking, how interested are schools in atypical kids? And are you seeing that change? You know, you’ve been doing this for a while? Are you seeing a change in the climate? 

Elizabeth Hamblet  13:33

Hmmm… I mean, it’s an interesting question. I don’t know honestly, that I’m qualified to answer that question. I, you know, I do a lot of reading and I see that there are schools trying to move professors toward what we call a UDL, you know, Universal Design for Learning, which, you know, the Landmark College my friends up there are really trying to do with with there, and if you’re not familiar with landmark, it is a school just for kids with learning disabilities and ADHD. It’s up in Putney, Vermont. There’s also a school for students who don’t like snow and mountains in Florida called Beacon College, which is also specifically for students, you know, exclusively I should say, for students with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders. So I think students are better suited to talk about the climate. And so I do think that there’s been an expansion in you know, in a lot of places and services, and you know, I’m neglecting in all these discussions also our students with psychological disorders, certainly there’s been a lot of press lately about counseling services being expanded a lot of colleges and that’s not really that was also not a disability service. It’s important to note but I mean, I like to say that things are widening. For students, their options are widening, but I don’t know if I have students who chose their college because they liked the person with disability services and felt that it was a welcoming environment. And I’ve talked to students and this is not at Columbia, I mean, in the process of, you know, development, my book, and just people I meet, who did not particularly find the place welcoming, they didn’t like where the, for instance, just where the disability services office was located, and felt that it, you know, really just showed a lack of interest in making it a welcoming place, whereas, you know, there are places now that have student lounges in their office suites. And I think that that could really speak to it. You know, I think and part of it part of it, too, I think it is the environment of your or your classmates, you know, how do your classmates respond? I’d like to think that for most, you know, these students have grown up in an environment different than we did where all, you know, students with learning disabilities are included in their classes, and sometimes they do go out to another place, and that that’s just become commonplace for students. But you know, so I’m afraid I don’t have a really good answer to your question. You know, I do think it’s, again, a very careful selective thing that is also just sort of the vibe that a student gets when visiting a place, right?

Debbie Reber  16:19

Well, I want to ask one of the questions that I have seen come up on a number of parenting groups that I’m in on Facebook, and that is this idea of whether or not you can extend or bring an IEP or a 504 with you into a university setting.

Elizabeth Hamblet  16:37

Oh, I’m so glad you asked me that. Because I think this is another place where the internet, again very well meaning people don’t quite understand. So the first one that’s easy to sort of explain away is the IEP. So IDEA, again, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act only applies to students who are still in the K through 12 system, it does not apply to colleges. And so what that means is that when your student graduates from high school, that IEP no longer is, you know, ELeague, a document with any legal bearing. And there’s probably a better way to explain that I haven’t quite conjured it up yet, but in other words, it doesn’t have any more AP legal application. And for students who have not graduated, you know, in the typical timeline, and stay in the school, and I believe, you know, it is not my thing, but I think it’s is either through the age of 21, or up until the age of 21, I bet your listeners know better than I. But they’re still in that high school, you know, their home district Ida still applies. But the metaphor I use in my presentations, and actually it’s a simile is that it’s, like a Disney movie. So you picture yourself at your child’s high school graduation, and he goes up on the podium and, and the principal hands him his degree. And back in your house in that drawer or the binder where you very diligently kept all the copies of the IPS, they sort of disappear into magical fairy dust and they float out of the window. And I don’t mean that in any sort of dismissive way. But that’s really how you kind of need to think of it. And so I don’t want listeners to panic and say, Oh, my gosh, but Elizabeth just said that they give accommodations, but she then she said, there are no IPs, I think the word plan, you know, in the vocabulary of college Disability Services, to me is really important. That’s why I say we do accommodations instead of services and plans, I think imply a level of coordination that we just don’t have. So you know, when you have a plan, you sit down with people, you set a goal, you figure out the steps to those goals, you’re going to measure the progress, you’re going to report on the progress. And none of those things happen in college, again, perhaps in a fee for service situation. But again, in having interviewed a bunch of people who run those programs, for the new edition of my book. Some of them do have some progress reporting, but it didn’t seem to be quite mandatory that professors respond to inquiries, but plan, you know, means plan. And so we do provide all sorts of accommodations. And I do want to assure your listeners, I’ve had students come through and this is the third University where I’ve worked making those accommodation reviews. And I have at times actually recommended more accommodations than a student was already receiving in high school. You know it People come from all sorts of districts who may or may not, you know, see a student’s needs the way that I do, or might not have offered, for instance, as my school does have access to. We use read and write goals for our speech to text technology. So it just means that there isn’t any obligation on the part of colleges to provide exactly what your student was getting simply because that’s what he got in high school. We have a right to determine what are reasonable accommodations. And you know, given what our programs are, you know how we view your student’s eligibility for those things. It’s important to remember that the laws say that the definition of a student, you know, we’re still using the word handicapped after all these years, but that in order to be a handicap, it has to put or impose a substantial limitation on an area of functioning. And so it depends on how that school views whether or not you know, your student is truly, you know, substantially limited in some area, and then to what accommodations that he’s requesting. Now, there are accommodations that are just not often provided at the college level. And it’s not because the law says we don’t have to do this, although there are some it says we don’t have to do, but because they’re just not considered appropriate. Again, your listeners can keep searching for a college that will do certain things for a student, but it just may mean a lot more searching. And so for example, one of the ones that always draws a gasp when I do this, at the presentations is extended time for papers. That is something that I would say that is not a very common accommodation. Have I talked to students who have gotten it? Yes, I have. But actually, even when I interviewed these Disability Services directors, that was for a very specific kind of student in a very specific kind of situation. This is not a blanket accommodation, where a student with ADHD or learning disability who struggles with time management and prioritizing every time a paper is assigned gets three days or extra week to do it. What it actually comes down to is when students have conditions, and often it’s either psychological or physical, that have, you know, these sort of extreme, very brief, you know, intense periods where a student can’t function for a certain reason, that student might get an extension of papers, you know, when she notifies her coordinator at that time, that, you know, she’s having this problem, it just started, you know, she might be required to alert the professor and work that out, you know, but those students also don’t just as a blanket accommodation, get a letter that says, anytime a paper is assigned, you know, Elizabeth gets three days. So that’s kind of what that means. As far as you know, it’s not a guaranteed now, and we can talk about this if you want, but you know, there are certain accommodations that are very commonly granted, like I said, and so if your student’s IEP is a senior, when he’s a senior, includes those, and it’s very likely that that’s what he’ll get. And there are colleges who are very open minded about this stuff. And maybe that’s not quite the right word. But you know, we’ll give a lot of consideration to what a student has received. Although I would, you know, just add that caveat, sort of within the bounds of the stuff that we just talked about.

Elizabeth Hamblet  23:00

And the other thing, and I know, I’m talking a lot. But you know, this stuff is so important, I think so the five oh, fours are a place where I really understand why there’s so much misunderstanding. So 504 has a bunch of different sub parts and high schools and you know, K through 12 is under subpart. D, and colleges are under subpart E. So it’s not that you can look up the law which you can, online, and it says and at the end of high school, your plans expire. But that is essentially what it means. So once again, it’s the use of the word that I think we have to be careful with. And again, having had a 504, or an IEP doesn’t automatically entitle because that’s a bad word. But it doesn’t entitle or guarantee student services at a college. But all that means is that just not what the law requires. Having said that, it’s very likely that every student that’s had one will get accommodations at college, whether they’ll be the same ones that those students had in high school will depend on all these things that we just talked about. But I think it’s really important to understand that it doesn’t it’s not a guarantee. And those plans don’t follow their students and we don’t have to follow them. So if it says stuff like teachers will handle Elizabeth, a printed copy of the assignment, teachers will check with Elizabeth at the end of class to make sure she wrote her homework down. Those are the kinds of plans the you know, those are not accommodations. Those are not the kinds of things that we do. 

Debbie Reber  24:36

That makes total sense. So what then would people submit? And I’m imagining it’s different for every university, but is it a recent neuropsych evaluation? Is it you know, what would be the bare minimum that people would need to request accommodations?

Elizabeth Hamblet  24:55

Well, it does. You said it very certainly from school to school and from condition to condition. So, you know, the places where I have worked when it comes to, if you will, the non testable things. So psychological disorders, physical medical disorders. And actually I shouldn’t say I mean, with visual, you know, some students aren’t completely without visions, some of them have limited vision maybe in this is beyond my area, you know, a report from the ophthalmologist about how much sight, you know, that student has how much hearing the student has, you know, audiology reports, those might be required, I’m not sure, sometimes just a letter from whoever is treating your student, you know, or my school asks, and I’ve seen other schools, as I travel the country, I was looking at what their what their state schools are looking for forms that your doctor fills out, you know, which generally is just there to help prompt the doctor to provide us with more information than we might get it when when she writes a letter and doesn’t quite know what to put in it. When it comes to learning disabilities. It’s interesting. And by the way, if you’re interested in this, choose the college you went to or the college your students currently interested in, and you should be able to find they’re called documentation, because that’s what we call that paperwork, documentation guidelines to see what she has to submit, you know, for come in to be considered for accommodations. And many of us will just kind of hedge and say it needs to be current. And you’ll say, Well, why not a number Elizabeth? Well, we want to have the flexibility. If we say three years old, and somebody comes in with testing from you know, freshman year of high school, at least where I work, we’re likely to say yes, if it meets our other requirements, and certainly for a 25 year old, who was tested, let’s say when he was 21, we would say yes, but if we put a number down, you know, it sort of commits us it commits you and I think it might also cause people to run out, you know, in a panic and go get testing that may not be necessary. So, you know, most schools will say anywhere between three to five years. But having said that, you know, some schools are taking an approach of really emphasizing student’s history and self report first, I wouldn’t say it’s the majority, I would say that there are, you know, there’s a portion of schools that will do that. So when it comes to learning disabilities, you know, what we would call a psycho educational evaluation, which is, you know, generally how students are initially identified, you know, testing of their cognitive ability through any of the batteries of tests that we, you know, are available, there are two main ones we use here in the States, and then testing of their academic skills. And together that’s called a psycho educational battery. ADHD has the misfortune to belong to all and no one. What I mean by that is, you know, it can be diagnosed by a variety of professionals. And again, people say to me, Well, why do some schools require testing? My kids High School never required it? Again, there’s no written explanation anywhere, my way of thinking about it is especially because colleges, we tend to be a little careful about our academic requirements and things like that. Often students with attention deficit are asking for academic accommodations. So to my way of thinking, you know, we need to make sure if we’re going to make those accommodations that we are doing it with more than just sort of the pediatrician say, so that he’s known Elizabeth for, you know, 12 years, and she certainly seems to have ADHD or, you know, after a symptom checklist, he diagnosed me with ADHD. So you know, at a lot of schools, it’s just the letter from whoever diagnosed you or it’s a form. There are some schools that require the same testing they do for LD, where I currently work, we currently require that testing plus some additional testing. So it’s something you’re, you know, when you’ve got a senior right now, while you’re listening to this, now’s the time to look online at the requirements for the schools your students are applying to, and at least get a sense of it. I always encourage parents not to do anything, don’t spend a dime don’t panic, until your student is accepted to and decided to enroll, let’s say a Columbia and that’s the time then if you haven’t gotten the the paperwork, or the testing to make the appointment, you know, and if the reports not ready when he’s ready to start school you he can always ask us for temporary accommodations until that stuff comes in.

Debbie Reber  29:30

Well, that was gonna be my next question: where do parents start? So you know, you talked about the documentation guidelines. And so rather than picking up the phone and calling you can find a good amount of information online in terms of how a university or college might be open minded to use that word again, towards atypical learners.

Elizabeth Hamblet  29:52

Absolutely. And in fact, that stuff really is supposed to be online and easily accessible and frankly, even if you call Somebody, we’d probably refer you to the website anyway, you know, for the fuller explanation of what we require, you know, and the websites are a great place to do some research, you know, while your student is looking at, do they have the, you know, the economics major that I’m looking for? Do they have a rugby team? You know, what, what’s the food like, is, you know, they are college students, that’s important. Be looking at the disability services offices sites and see, you know, what do they say, many of them just are going to say that we give accommodations, I do want to caution your listeners, on some sites, you’re going to see something that’s going to seem very sort of Stark, and maybe a little unfriendly. And I’ve seen it on a bunch of Schools websites, it says, you know, and, you know, the ADEA, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 do not require colleges to do A, B, C, and D. So, you know, we may not do those things, I think that it is a perhaps not so delicate way of trying to introduce families to the idea that this is not the same again, Ida does not apply. I not sure how friendly it seems to families, but I don’t want them to take that as any sort of indicator that this is a school that’s not friendly to students with disabilities, I mean, in fairness to us, those misunderstandings come to us in the form of upset parents and students at times. And so, you know, it’s it’s, it can be a first point of contact for family with just, you know, the notion of what disability services offices do. And that’s why I think some of these offices feel it’s important to put that stuff up there, you know, and they’re just their families that don’t understand the differences. And, you know, will say, but you have to do this, and, you know, so but you can click around and see links to whatever tutoring they offer, you know, maybe if your register with the Disability Services Office is if everybody gets, you know, if the writing centers, policies, it’s dropping, only maybe students registered with Disability Services, get to make appointments, these are the kinds of things and if you can’t find that online, call, and you may have to make an appointment to speak to somebody, you know, we’re my colleagues are pretty busy. So it’s not the kind of thing where they can just pick up the phone and have a 15 minute chat with whoever calls. But one thing that I think is also really important is to, you know, make sure that when you are visiting, if you want to talk to somebody, call in advance, to make sure that somebody will be available to talk to you, you know, some of these places are one person offices. So it’s not always that you can just drop in and get your questions answered. And the other thing too, that’s really important is don’t go to the admissions reps for your disability services, questions. And oh, and this is, oh, gosh, my head is on fire, I get all sorts of things.

Elizabeth Hamblet  32:58

So because what happens, what’s been really interesting to me is at talks that I’ve given parents have said, well, you know, if I call your office, Elizabeth, won’t they pick up the phone, when I get off and call admissions, it breaks my heart, that this is something that parents are worried about. When I say I can’t blame them. i What I mean is that I think that you know, some people have had experiences with others who are not very evolved in their thinking, but I can assure your listeners that I almost never say never in my talks, but I will say that never happens. I’m gonna stand on that one for you. Nobody’s going to call admissions and say, oh, you know, Elizabeth, Hamlet’s mother called, you know, you might want to put her on a list. That is not happening. So it’s really important to know that you can call you know, if I start Hamlet University tomorrow, you can call Hamlet University’s disability services office and ask us 1000 questions. And that will have no bearing on your application, you may decide not to apply to Hamble university based on what I tell you. But what’s really important about that, is that we want your students to have the answers they’re seeking about what we do and what we don’t do, you know, we may not be able to answer that question about, you know, what’s the climate like? Because, you know, I think most of us are going to say, we work very hard with professors, you know, maybe some places look, you know, smaller universities where they know, everybody, that’s part of the climate itself. And maybe that’s not specific to disability services, but your students with disabilities might find that very comforting. Or they might prefer to be anonymous at a big school. But we’re going to answer those questions for you. And it’s not going to be that you could necessarily call and say, you know, Hi, I’m a senior at Princeton High School and I get all of these accommodations. Are you going to give them to me? Because we don’t know that question until we get your paperwork and most offices. You can always ask, you know, say, Look, I am applying to your school, but I want to know what I’ll be, you know, eligible for? Would you look at this stuff? I would imagine most schools are just too swamped to do that for prospective students. But you could say, well, if I get accepted, would you do that for me? And they might be more willing to do that, you know, we don’t have time to do it for every prospective student who, you know, would reasonably want to know the answer to that question. But at least once you got accepted to the school, whether they would do that, so you could use that piece of information to narrow your choices. But you know, the admissions people now maybe at a school, obviously, at Landmark and Beacon where that’s their stock and trade. Yes. And in a lot of schools, you don’t even apply to the fee for service program, like I know, at Northeastern, you don’t until you get accepted to the school. So they could perhaps talk to you about what the fee for service program offers. I’m sure that they’re, you know, schooled in that, or at least I would like to hope so. But as far as you know, let’s say you want to go to Northeastern, but you don’t really think you need the fee for the service program? I assume and I’d like to think any admissions person would say, hey, we have great Disability Services, you know, those people that are terrific, but I’m not sure I’d rely on them for the kind of detailed information you want.

Debbie Reber  36:18

Make sense? Well, I really appreciate you sharing that perspective, especially because, you know, I think a lot of listeners, including me, I’ll throw myself into that as well, you know, that we’ve been burned by some schools and disclosing too much information. And so I really appreciate you sharing that, that we can feel good about just learning all we can and not worrying about disclosing that it’s going to impact our child’s chances of getting into a school, but at the same time, it really is about the right fit. You know, ultimately, we want to be at the school or we want our kids at the school where they’ll be supported. So I wanted to just switch gears. And I want to be cognizant of the time because this is such great information. I’m so appreciative of everything you’re sharing with us. I’m curious about your role. What kind of things have you seen in terms of the kids that come in that, you know, I guess, have helped you figure out what these kids really need? Like what makes a definitely wired student successful in school? I’m imagining self advocacy as a huge piece of that.

Elizabeth Hamblet  37:27

Sure, absolutely. I mean, I think that it is just like any student who doesn’t have disabilities, and I read an interesting study that was done on the, you know, the general population at a college. And, you know, half of the students said that they really wish they learn more about time management. So I think that, you know, there’s some, some great levelers across all college students. And I think you know, What’s hard is you just you, you’re not in that kind of environment till you get to college, where you literally only have two to three hours of your day accounted for. And so it is very hard to use time well, the structure of the K through 12 students lives and the average adult livess, you know, where you go to work all day, kind of tells you when you have time to do other things. But for these students, there is just so much time, you know, if they have the luxury of not having to work or they’re not athletes, you know, things like that. The research shows the people who are successful are ones who know how they learn. And you know, there’s been a lot coming out saying that learning styles are actually not something supported by science in any way. But in other words, if you know that, you have to listen to a lecture three times to get the content and that you know, you’ll read the book, but you’re not going to get that much out of it. So you I have students, one of the things I’ve been so impressed with, and I don’t think it just speaks to Columbia students, but students in general, and students that I interview and talk to, is their resourcefulness. The ones who really know what they want to do and want to be successful are incredibly creative. So I talk to students who say, You know what, I don’t understand physics, the way my professor explains it, I get on line at Khan Academy. And that’s where I find videos, they go to office hours, you know, if there’s a TA in the class, and they don’t understand the professor, they go see the TA, they form study groups, they compare notes with others. So that kind of active learning and use of strategies, really, I think, separates most students from the ones who are really doing quite well. I think it’s hard. We really don’t teach study strategies. And I don’t mean just how to study for an exam, but all of those kinds of things, how to read effectively. One of the problems is, in high school, you often get a textbook that’s very, very well developed with comprehension questions and section headers and things like that. And then you go into PolyScience The professor has, you know, in the course management system loaded 50 articles from political journals that you have to read, and you don’t have the luxury of question, you know, he’s not going to give you the questions to, you know, to sort of help you keep you on track. So, I teach a lot of my students a very well worn strategy that’s not specific to LD or add called SQ3R, which and you can look it up online, it stands for survey question, read recite, review, which is just a strategy to try to get more out create questions before you read to be answered when you read so that you have some sense of what you’re looking at and, and you know, have some way to be accountable to yourself for what you read, you know, see where your holes are, go back and look for it. So being active learners, I think, really is the thing that I see in students and what the studies show, you know, makes them successful. I think what’s also crucial is getting help. And I always say to my students that seeking help is actually a sign of strength, not one of weakness. It’s the people who don’t seek help when they need it, you know, who are who are really selling themselves short.

Debbie Reber  41:11

That’s fantastic. Thank you. I would love before we go, my brain is full right now. You’ve been on fire. I, this has just been so interesting. I’m sure we’re going to get lots of comments and questions on this. But before we go, I would love for you to tell us about your book, you mentioned that you’ve written a book I know, it’s called From High School to College: Steps to Success for Students with Disabilities. So can you tell us a little bit about that?

Elizabeth Hamblet  41:37

Oh, sure. So this is the second edition, the first one that came out in 2011 was so successful, we decided to revise it. And so it sort of provides I like to think, you know, sort of a progression starting with the you know, in much more detail, obviously, the laws and what’s different, and what families and professionals need to understand about those differences. And then, you know, moves into what the students rights are and their responsibilities, because they are, you know, adults in this new system and how the system works, what they have to be prepared to do. And then we talk about all of the skills that the research points to, you know, that makes students successful, both the personal skills, as you mentioned, Debbie, like self advocacy and self determination, and then the academic skills, what they need to be prepared to do some technology also that can be helpful, how to do those searches, you know, what kinds of things to look for. And what’s really exciting in this version is I got to talk to three admissions. Two of them, I think, or Dean’s, but the Dean of Admissions at Yale of Undergraduate Admissions, talked to me, as did an admissions officer at Dickinson College and at Muskingum, which also has a fee for service programs. About You know, one of the biggest questions that I get all the time is should my student tell the school about her disability when she applies? And so their views on that? And if so, how to do it is in there. So that’s a new feature, this time that I’m really excited about? And you know, how to look at services? And then you know, the accommodations, what kinds of things can students commonly get? And, you know, what kinds of things should they prepare, maybe not to have. So I think it provides a nice progression of understanding of going through this stuff to prepare families for what to expect.

Debbie Reber  43:31

Fantastic, well, congratulations on the revised and updated edition. That’s exciting. And I would love it if you could also just share with us where listeners can get in touch with you, your website is chock full of resources. And I would love to be able to direct people to check out what you’re doing.

Elizabeth Hamblet  43:51

Oh, thank you. So it’s LD advisory as an LD is in learning disabilities. And that’s Or you can just Google my name, Elizabeth Hamblet, H A MBLET. And on that website, you’ll find, as Debbie said, all sorts of free resources for families, copies of my published work, where it’s available, you know, through copyright agreements, and links to my understood video chats, things like that. There’s also something very exciting now, which is new, a link to the blog, and what’s in the blog. And what we’ll be there going on for probably two years are all of the interviews that form the foundation for the book. So talks with college disability service providers, college counselors, students themselves, about all the issues that I think are really relevant. So if you follow the blog, you’ll get the updates and I’m gonna, you know, try and address a question per week for I don’t know for the foreseeable future forever. Right seems like forever. I think it was 90 pages of interviews in the end, which is why they didn’t fit in the book. And you know, my publisher thought it was a great idea to be able to offer this stuff too, you know that anybody could access it. Yeah, so excited about 

Debbie Reber  45:12

That’s great. Well, listeners, I’ll leave the contact information in the show notes. So if you didn’t write that down, you can just visit the show notes page, and you’ll be able to check out all of Elizabeth’s resources. Elizabeth, I just need to say thank you. This has been fascinating conversation, and I’m so grateful for just generosity and such insight that you shared with us today.

Elizabeth Hamblet  45:34

Well, I appreciate the opportunity to reach you, folks. Anybody who’s listening, feel free to use the contact button on my page and send me any questions.

Debbie Reber  45:45

You’ve been listening to the tilt parenting podcast for the show notes for this episode, including links to Elizabeth’s website LD advisory, visit Also remember when you leave a comment on that page, you will be entered to win a copy of Elizabeth’s book. And don’t forget to check out my after the show short video where I share my top takeaways from my conversation with Elizabeth. You’ll also find a link on the show notes page or you can go straight to If you enjoyed this podcast and would like to help me cover the cost of producing it, please consider signing up for my Patreon campaign. Patreon is a simple membership platform that allows people to make a small monthly contribution as little as $2 a month tip on the show. If you want to help me visit If you like what you heard on today’s episode, and you haven’t already done so I would be grateful if you could take just a minute and head over to iTunes and leave a rating or review. Lastly, if you’re looking for a little bit of extra emotional support, you might want to try my differently wired seven day challenge. I’ll send you a short video each day for one week aimed at helping you shift your experience one thought and action at a time. Sign up until parenting calm slash seven day. Thanks again for listening. For more information on Tilt Parenting visit


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