College Vetting, Admissions, & Accommodations for Differently Wired Students

gender nonconformity kids

This is a special double episode all about college, specifically, how families can navigate the application process and what’s changed since COVID, as well as understanding the ways in which colleges may, or may not, support their neurodivergent students and what families should be looking for when exploring potential schools. I wanted to put together this episode after reading a lot of articles about the changing landscape of college admissions and the experience of students on campus since COVID.

In the first half of this episode, you’ll hear me talking with Eric Karlan, the co-founder of Ivy Experience, a company providing academic tutoring, standardized test preparation, and essay consulting services. Eric and I talked about what’s different in the college admissions process today as a result of the COVID pandemic, and whether or not those changes are here to stay. Eric explains what “test-optional” and “test-blind” policies are and how they affect some students more than others, what schools are doing to bring in more diversity to their student body, and how students might choose to disclose their neurodivergence, disability, or other parts of their identities in their college application. 

Then in the second half of the episode, I’m joined by Elizabeth Hamblet, an expert in college disability services and helping neurodivergent high school students successfully transition to college. In our portion of the conversation, Elizabeth and I talk about what kinds of services colleges may offer students, how to vet schools to find out what kinds of supports and accommodations may be available and how to access them, and what parents should consider when helping their differently wired young adult explore potential colleges.

 

About Eric Karlan

Eric Karlan is one of the co-founders of Ivy Experience. He graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelors in Journalism, History, and Culture; he was one of only two students in the Class of 2009 to design his own curriculum for an Individualized major. Since 2010, Eric has consulted thousands of high school and graduate school students on their college and graduate school application essays and resumes across the country and around the world. He gave a TEDx Talk in 2018 called “What do I need to know about you?” inspired by his work brainstorming with students on their college application essays. Eric lives with and loves his wife, daughters, and pet cat Franklin.

About Elizabeth Hamblet

Elizabeth C. Hamblet has worked both ends of the college transition. She began her career as a high school special education teacher and then began working at the college level in the late 1990s. She is now at her third university, where she helps students with time management, organization, reading, and study skills. In 2008, recognizing a need to share what she knew, Elizabeth began offering programs on preparing students for successful college transition. She speaks all over the country, doing presentations for parent groups, providing professional development workshops, and presenting at national conferences.

In addition to being a requested presenter, Elizabeth is also a contributing writer for Disability Compliance for Higher Education, a journal for higher education disability professionals. Her work on college transition has also appeared in numerous journals, and on platforms like Understood.org and ADDitudemag.com. Elizabeth’s third book on preparing students with disabilities is due out in Fall 2022. She is also the author of a brief, concise guide on this topic. And she offers an on-demand webinar on academic accommodations at college.

 

Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • How the college admission process has changed as a result of the COVID pandemic
  • What it actually means when colleges declare they are “test-optional” or “test blind,” and how applicants should navigate decisions around submitting tests
  • How the young adult mental health is impacting students’ performance in high school, and how prospective colleges are considering those dips
  • What schools are doing to foster more diversity within their student body (race, gender, neurodiversity, etc.)
  • Considerations surrounding whether or not a student should disclose their neurodivergence, disability, or other parts of their identities in their college application
  • How some universities have added expanded their disability and mental health services on campus in response to student’s needs since the pandemic
  • What fee-based college disabilities programs are and how they can help students with unique learning needs

 

Resources mentioned for College for Differently Wired Students

  • Seven Steps to College Success: A Pathway for Students with Disabilities by Elizabeth Hamblet (link coming soon)

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Episode Transcript

Debbie Reber  00:00

Tilt Parenting is proud to partner with Outschool this podcast season. Outschool’s unique approach to education empowers differently wired kids ages three through 18 to dive into their interests in small live classes designed to foster a love of learning, create connections and cultivate independence. Learn more at outschool.com/tilt.

Elizabeth Hamblet  00:23

But I interviewed several admissions directors for the book. And what they said was, they would like for students to tell them something about their disability because what they want is a full complete picture of an individual and disabilities part of that. And what they also said, this can be confusing. And at the same time, they don’t consider disability in their decision making that they actually can’t. So if you are a parent of a student and none of your kids yet have applied to college, what you’ll find when you look at the common app, is that there aren’t any questions about disability because colleges are not allowed to ask. That’s an important thing to know. And so it’s really up to the student whether they want to disclose.

Debbie Reber  01:13

Welcome to Tilt Parenting, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host, Debbie Reber and this is the last episode of the summer 2022 season. And to close out this season, I’m bringing you a special double episode all about college, specifically how families can navigate the application process and what’s changed since COVID. As well as understanding the ways in which colleges may or may not support their neurodivergent students, and what families should be looking for when exploring potential schools. I happen to know two fantastic experts in this space. And in fact, they’ve both been on the show before. So I reached out to them this past spring after reading a lot of articles about the changing landscape of college admissions and the experience of students on campus since COVID, to ask them to share what they’ve seen in their work. In the first half of this episode, you’ll hear me talking with Eric Karlan, the co-founder of Ivy experience, a company providing academic tutoring, standardized test prep and essay consulting services. Since 2010, Eric has consulted with 1000s of high school and graduate students on their college and graduate school application essays and resumes across the country and around the world. He gave a TEDx talk in 2018 called What do I need to know about you? inspired by his work brainstorming with students on their college application essays. So Eric, and I get into what’s different in the college admissions process today as a result of the COVID pandemic, and whether or not he thinks those changes are here to stay. Eric explains what test optional and test blind policies are and how they affect some students more than others, what schools are doing to bring in more diversity to their student body, and how students might choose to disclose their neuro divergence disability or other parts of their identities in their college applications. Then, in the second half of the episode, I’m joined by Elizabeth Hamblet, an expert in college Disability Services and helping neurodivergent high school students successfully transition to college. So Elizabeth began her career as a high school special education teacher, and then began working at the college level in the late 1990s. She’s now at her third university, where she helps students with time management, organization, reading and study skills. She offers programs on prepping students for successful college transitions, and her newest book seven steps to college success, a pathway for students with disabilities will be out in early 2023. In my conversation with Elizabeth, we talk about what kinds of services colleges may offer students, how to vet schools to find out what kind of supports and accommodations may be available and how to access them, and what parents should consider when helping their differently wired young adult explore potential colleges. So before I get to this double episode, though, this is the end of the summer season of new episodes. I’m already lining up interviews for the fall season, which will begin in October. I’m going to be talking with phenomenal guests about things like polyvagal theory, rejection, sensitive dysphoria, PDA, self regulation, and so much more. I’m really excited to get started and share that season with you. But between now and then I will be opening the doors to my Differently Wired Club during the last week of September. So if you want to know when that enrollment period starts, this is for my high touch membership community. Just sign up for the interest list at tilta parenting.com/club and I will keep you in the loop. Lastly, I hope that everyone’s back to school, whether it’s already happened or it’s about to, or whatever it looks like in your family’s world, I hope that goes smoothly, and that the coming year is one of growth and play and connection and true joy for you and your family. All right, thanks so much for listening. Thank you for being part of this tool community. I will be back with more new episodes soon. But for today, I hope you enjoy this special double episode I put together on how to navigate the college admissions and transition process. Hey, Eric, welcome back to the podcast.

Eric Karlan  05:40

Thanks, Debbie. Really appreciate you having me back.

Debbie Reber  05:43

A lot has changed in the past three years for everybody. Yes, it has. Well, I wanted to kind of even just start there, like just do a temperature check with you and the work that you’re doing. Like, how have things changed for you? How’s business changed for you? What’s different?

Eric Karlan  05:59

Yeah, I mean, in many ways, nothing has changed at all. A lot of what college admissions is, and my work with students has stayed the same. For years, we’ve always said to families that when you start thinking about the college application process, there’s many factors out of your control. And I always encourage families to not worry about them, because they think there’s enough stress in this process. And really just trying to reduce anxiety around this. And I say to families, there’s really five things in your control. There are your grades and rigor, their standardized test scores, there’s extracurricular activities, there’s teacher and counselor recommendations. And then there’s the college essays and applications themselves. And I really tried to keep students and parents focus on those five things. And if you think pre pandemic, to post pandemic, those are still the five things in families control. You know, I have a company, we still work with students on academic tutoring on SATs and ACT prep, having conversations about activities, you know, working with students on essays and applications. So all that’s the same. And I think a good starting point, because I know we have a bunch of topics we want to cover is standardized tests, and test optional, which is totally blown up in the wake of the pandemic, when it was really by necessity, because so many test centers were canceling every single month, month after month after month. So in certain states, in certain areas, students were able to take the SATs, but in many cases, they were not able to take it. So test optional wasn’t so much a policy anymore of how you wanted to handle your college admissions, it was a requirement, otherwise, you were cutting off and limiting access to 10s of 1000s of students prospective applicants for your college. But the thing is, test optional is not new in any way. Pre pandemic, there were more than 1000 colleges and universities that were already test optional Debbie, this is not a new idea. And now as things get back to normal, perhaps I don’t even have to say that anymore. You know what normal even means. But I guess as we get further away from the acuity, the highest peaks of the pandemic, it’s interesting watching universities and how they are changing, or they’re not changing their policy.

Debbie Reber  08:39

Yeah, I mean, certainly there have been lots of articles and conversations in the news about this. And some schools have gone back, some have decided to stay. My understanding is that test optional, or test blind? And maybe you can explain what that is two, that really benefits some students and it really hurts some students. And can you talk a little bit about that?

Eric Karlan  09:00

Yeah. So when we look back at the overall history of test optional, the whole idea of test optional is to promote access and equity, so that students who may have been discouraged to apply to a university before because their standardized tests, the SATs and the ACT’s, which one of those has traditionally been required by most colleges. Now, of course, a lot are optional. But the idea was to promote access and equity so that students who wouldn’t have been prospective applicants now are, that’s been the traditional use event. You know, in conversations with students, we always say that the most important factor, the most important thing in your control is your grades. And I think that there’s so many students out there who are so hard working, they challenge themselves in the classroom. They get all the A’s right that you need for Are those quote unquote top tier, or more and more, I’m calling them the most highly rejected universities these days, but they’re just not good standardized test takers. And test optional is extremely liberating for them. And it still is right. Because in every college admissions officers going to agree they’re going to care more about grades than test scores, because grades are your body of work over an entire year or an entire semester, and a standardized test, while there’s many merits to it, and you can reduce it down to how you did on one exam on one particular Saturday morning is one way of looking at it. That’s really the conversation of like, the value of test optional. And when we think about all of this, in the context of the huge culture shift towards test optional today, I think one of the questions that families have, especially, you know, students who don’t feel or traditionally have not been strong test takers, is they start wondering, well, do I even need to take this at all? And how important is this even more, and I think that’s one of the biggest misperceptions that’s happened over the past few years, is that test optional, has been perceived as well test don’t really count anymore. And I would point to a couple factors to say that’s just not true. They do matter. It’s just that there’s greater flexibility with how they’re viewed as part of the college admissions process. So first and foremost, if we look at the data that’s been released over the past year or two, there’s not much, which is frustrating, because when you are choosing whether to submit and you’re sad or a CT score or not, that’s a data driven decision. And I think that one of the frustrations that many families feel right now, is they’re being asked to make a data driven decision without data. And that causes anxiety to families and not understanding what they should do I have a huge amount of empathy for that, because they’re being asked to make a decision that how can they feel totally confident when they’re doing it one way or the other, whether you submit or not. And I think that what leads to a bit more confusion is the fact that the little data that has been released shows that colleges overall prefer students in applicants who did take the SATs or a CT, and did well into submit their scores. That’s not to say that they’re not accepting test optional students, they are more than ever before. But if you said, Eric, do I want these scores? Is it important, I would say You at least need to give it a shot, to give yourself that opportunity to see if you can get that score. Because it will be advantageous, if you submit a score that’s in are at or above the 50th percentile of what colleges and universities are saying their average SATs and ACT scores are for the most recent graduating class and admissions officers say it you know, they have a great answer. If you say, what is test optional mean? It says are you really test optional, and they’re going to tell you, Debbie, that you’re not going to get penalized for not submitting the essay to your ACT. And at face value go? Oh, that’s great. You’re not gonna get penalized, but I’m a big sports fan. And last I checked, if I’m watching a Phillies game, and the Phillies score, zero runs and the other team scores too. You don’t lose points, you don’t lose runs better analogy is a basketball analogy, right? Watching my poor six years losing the playoffs, every time you missed a shot, you don’t lose points, you just don’t gain any points. If he gains more points, they’re gonna win. So I think when you think about it in that way you go, this is something I do want. And I think that when we talk with families of neurodivergent students, there’s this mindset for many that the tests are not going to be for me. So I’ve looked at test optional, and perhaps I don’t even try. And it’s not that I don’t understand that mindset, especially echoing some of what we talked about three years ago. There’s some extra steps that need to be taken for Neuro divergence students. When you approach the SATs and ACT things have changed a little bit better on that front By the way, but first and foremost, you need to figure out what your accommodations are. And there’s a wide variety of what accommodations you can get from extra time to stop and start to taking the test over multiple days. And, you know, we always say to students, you want to practice how you’re going to play. So figuring out those accommodations up front, even before you take some sort of diagnostic to figure out if the SATs or ACTs is better for you, you want to know that, so that takes time. Now, one interesting point on that front, Debbie is the ACT’s done something really cool is that they will now automatically approve accommodations for any student with a 504 or an IEP. But right at this moment, it’s students in public schools, they’re trying to streamline the process for students at private schools as well. That is one big fundamental change since we last spoke, because previously, it was actually easier to get extra time or accommodations on the LSAT versus the ACT. Now that’s what’s so I get it, there’s a huge temptation to not take the SATs and ACT if you don’t have to. But again, our message at this point, and what I would say to families is, just try it and see where your starting point is, then you really have to look at the big picture. What are my students’ grades? What’s their rigor? And what type of universities are they looking for?

Debbie Reber  16:33

Yeah, and if you take one of those tests, you at least have the option because there are going to be schools who require it, they’re going to be schools that are optional. And then there are still schools, as I said earlier, that are test blind, which my understanding is you can send it but they’re not going to look at it.

Eric Karlan  16:49

Yeah. And that’s what the University of California has done. They’re really the biggest, I would say, the most prominent players in advocating for tests blind for right now. And the story behind that is actually pretty interesting, because the University of California commissioned, essentially a two year internal research endeavor to figure out if there was value for standardized tests as part of the admissions process, especially in promoting diversity and equity and inclusion. And what’s interesting to me is that after two years, the results came in. And the people working on this said, Yes, standardized tests are actually good, you should keep them as part of the policy, at which point, the University of California promptly went test blind, kind of defying their own research. And it’s interesting, because I think there’s a lot of public pressure to go test optional, and now pushing even further to go test want to get rid of the standardized tests entirely. Of course, there’s also pressure to go back right now the University of Tennessee was supposed to commission some research on whether they should stay test optional, reinstitute tests required or go test blind. And they actually do put a good amount of pressure, they decided that require the SATs and ACT again, so you can see that there’s political and social pressure coming from both directions. And it’s not just about the data, it’s not just about what’s best for the student, which is frustrating for everyone involved. Test wind, it’ll be an interesting debate. Because, you know, we, of course, have more schools than ever, that are now test blind, which, like you’ve said, means that you could submit a perfect score. And that’s not going to be advantageous for you in any way, they’re not going to consider that as part of your application review. We are starting to see some universities go back to tests required. And I wish I had some crystal ball to tell you what our conversation would be like if we’re talking again, three years from now. But there’s a lot of moving parts right now. It’s tough to see what’s going to happen. But at the end of the day, focus on what you can control, figure out if the tests are going to make sense for you, explore it, and then make that decision. And if you decide to take them, that’s great, obviously, and then you can see how you score and evaluate if you want to submit. But even if you don’t take them then from speaking as an admissions officer, I would say, well, it’s going to place a greater level of importance on your grades and your activities in your essays. And I think from a personal holistic standpoint, having more time for any students to focus on their extracurricular endeavors and taking care of themselves and their mental health. I think we can make some strong arguments that that’s a good Thing.

Debbie Reber  19:53

Yeah. Okay, so we could go in a few different directions. So let’s just touch upon mental health right now because obviously, that Surgeon General report came out earlier this year about just the state of mental health of adolescents today, and kids and what’s really going on? And so I’m just wondering, what are you seeing in terms of how that’s impacting things? How understanding are schools of seeing some big dips in performance? Yeah. Love to know more about that.

Eric Karlan  20:25

Yeah. I mean, from a personal standpoint, in working with students and families, I will tell you that I’ve done this for almost 13 years now. And never before have I seen or heard from parents and students about the prevalence of mental health difficulties in the past year. And it’s not to say that mental health wasn’t an issue before it was, but it’s been exacerbated by the pandemic. And I can’t tell you how many times Debbie, in the past few months, I have parents calling me saying, Eric, this is an epidemic right now, you need to be aware of this, you know, make sure that you and your team and others are patient, with students and understanding because this is a hard time right now. And we are, you know, it’s crucial that the asking the questions, are you okay, how are you doing? Is there anything else we can do? Because there’s so much that we don’t know if students aren’t opening up about it. But what’s, I think positive from over the past few years, and I don’t think this is exclusively pandemic related, I think we were already seeing a cultural shift. Anyways, Debbie, is that fortunately, students are more open than ever before about the mental health struggles that they are facing. And even more fortunate is that colleges and college admissions are also more open to hearing about that than ever before. If you called me 10 years ago and said, Eric, you know, my student is struggling with mental health, in any shape, or form. And quite frankly, I’m gonna extend this for a moment just knowing tilts mission in your mission, Debbie. But, you know, how about talking about neuro divergences? Right, these things were not discussed. They were taboo on a college application. Don’t write your essay about it. Don’t talk about it. There were times when parents would call me in were concerned like, because you don’t get to read the recommendation letters that your guidance counselor and teacher submit. And they would call me saying, Eric, how can we make sure they don’t talk about this in the letter, I mean, those were the conversations happening not even 10 years ago. And now, college admissions has really opened up, I hesitate to say courage, but they have created a much safer space for students to be vulnerable, to be honest, and to be open. And to really be understanding, I think that one of the beauties of the American university admission system versus other countries is that it’s holistic, they see the whole person and they always have this has always been a distinguishing factor between American missions, and other countries where everything is based on grades and a test. And I think we’re doing an even better job. Now seeing the full student and seeing their full story. Let me amend that. Their full stories plural, because every student is composed of so many stories in so many facets of their identity. And there’s a lot of ways that you can share this openly. Of course, your application essays, you know, if nothing else, there’s that main common app essay, which is 650 words, it’s about one page single spaced, and there’s numerous prompts you can choose from. One of the prompts is literally write an essay on any topic you want, though. So really, that’s what it is, you have an opportunity to share your story and share your growth and reflect on a challenge. But maybe you don’t want to reflect on a mental health struggle there. Or maybe you don’t want to highlight your neurodivergence is there. Maybe you have other stories to share, but you still want to share mental health, or you still want to share your narrative virgins. Well, that’s great. The college admissions and applications have given other opportunities. So there’s also something called the Additional Information section, which is the same word limit 650 words. So again, page single spaced, it’s not an essay, but it’s a space where they ask, is there anything essentially contextualizing in your life or anything else that’s important for us to know? There’s a space for that. We’re at least this year and there has been The past few years, and we’ll see how much longer it lasts. They’ve added a 250 word COVID section, how has COVID impacted you in any shape or form. And, you know, I think that that’s evolved. I think sometimes, for better and worse. The first year I tragically had so many students writing about loved ones who were lost, much more so than now. There were also students who needed to use that space to explain that I’ve registered for six SATs and they all got canceled. So I mean, it ran a huge gamut of personal contextualization and emotions. I’m so grateful that they’ve kept that space there. Because this year for the current juniors, the students who are going to be filling out applications this summer, you know, this was their first full year of high school in the classroom. And it’s just wild to think about that in another way, they have not had a full year in the classroom since eighth grade. I mean, it’s surreal. It’s been a journey, and a struggle for many. So you have those three spaces. And then you also have recommendation letters that you can be open with your teachers, who in so many cases have been tremendous support systems and lifelines for students over the past few years, your guidance counselor, guidance counselors have always been required to write every single one of their students recommendation letters. I think we all wish there was probably less reason for more increased communication between the guidance counselors and students, but there’s certainly been a need for it. The past year or two guidance counselors do know and understand and appreciate these students and their stories more. And they as a third party can also represent an advocate for the students. So there’s just so many opportunities. Maybe it’s you want to contextualize why you got low grades for a period of time. Or maybe there’s nothing on your resume or your transcript that would indicate that there was a struggle, but you still feel it’s important to your story to help these admissions officers to understand who you are. And one message I always tell students and parents is admissions officers. So scary when you call them just that, right? It makes them so intangible are not human that I remind students and families all the time, admissions officers are people, and people accept other people. And these admissions officers, even at the universities now that are only accepting 3, 4, 5 percent of applicants, they do not come into work excited and eager to reject students. That is not what they signed up for. That’s not their job. Their job is to walk in every day to open these application files. And they desperately want to be rooting for students, they want to be advocating for students to be accepted to the University and College, they want to make that connection. They want to open the application file, and they want to understand you and they want to connect with you. The fact that we as students can be more vulnerable and honest and open than ever before. It’s going to help people connect with us better. And like anything else, a success or failure, a struggle, a triumph. You always want to be sensitive to how you present that is strategic is a word. And I hate saying that. It sounds so cold and impersonal. But at least you can talk about it at all now that I think that development has been a positive in the past.

Debbie Reber  28:43

So just to take that one step further, being able to talk about it is great, and being able to be vulnerable. And that’s something I have heard that there’s been a big shift. But you mentioned DEI, if we think about neuro divergence as part of that diversity piece and inclusion piece, are schools interested looking at gender identity, we know that many neurodivergent kids are also on their own gender journey, which has really exploded in the last few years. Are these things that schools are actively looking to bring in diversity in that way to their student body? 

Eric Karlan  29:18

Yeah, absolutely. And there’s so many different ways of looking at this and knowing that to be true. I mean, one, if nothing else is you can Google any article from this past year. And you can do like a University Class of 2026 admissions statistics, right. And they’ll give you information and breakdowns of like they always have how many valedictorians they’ve accepted, what the average LSAT or ACT score was, but now they are emphasizing how many first generation students and talking about different ethnic backgrounds In any number of identities, you see it, it’s valued. It’s celebrated at these universities, they’re proud of it, they are really, you know, excited to welcome such a diverse class and to create more than ever such inclusive environments. I think that there is one more signal for the value that colleges are placing on DEI, you know, my personal passion and love is college essays. I think you have to look no further than college essay topics and the prompts that are changing over the past two or three years. And I think that their first thought that comes to mind in the past couple of years of the pandemic, but the social justice movement has been the other huge pillar over these past two, three years. And that’s reflected even more. So I think, in the college application process, you have so many colleges, asking you about a community that you belong to and your place within it. Where are you on your social justice journey? How do you engage in DEI? What are difficult conversations you’ve had? And directly or indirectly, a lot of these prompts, I think, are encouraging students to share their authenticity, their stories, their neurodivergences, their identities in any shape, or form. And, again, I commend colleges for asking these sorts of questions. I mean, it’s great. When the University of Virginia asks a prompt, like, tell us about one of your quirks. I love that I want to read the essays all day long. But there’s tremendous importance to giving students the opportunity to share more about their identities. And perhaps they didn’t feel prompted to do that on the general college essay, because those prompts are so general and open. So maybe they really value colleges, inviting them and saying, Hey, here’s the signal, right, we want to hear from you, we want to see you. And looking beyond that, you can see the greater resources and support in communities more than ever before on college campuses. And that’s something that I love speaking with students and families about when they’re looking at colleges, and they’re doing their college search, in saying if, if there’s pieces of your identity, and it doesn’t have to be a narrow divergence, right, it doesn’t have to be your gender or sexuality. I mean, it could just be a hobby, or an interest. Don’t just sign up for a tour, don’t just go to the general admissions page. There are resources in communities, there are people like you at this school, find them on social media, reach out before you visit campus and ask if, hey, when will you get coffee with me? Or can I stop by this center? Or do you have a meeting, I can drop in at the organization and meet with you, and meet with other students. I think it’s not just about welcoming students through admissions. But being on campus at these universities. There’s more resources and communities and support and love than there ever has been before. And that’s truly fantastic. I know that for high school sophomores and juniors right now, the focus is just on getting in so many days. But okay, once you get in, you want to make sure that your child feels safe and supported and encouraged and loved there. And I think that’s something that’s so great. And if you’re not sure about a given school, reach out to you know, any departments for learning disabilities, find out what their resources are, get a sense, have a conversation, ask the hard questions, talk to your child, challenge them to think about what they need in this next step of their life journey. What worked for them in high school? What were they left craving? And let that guide conversations when they’re looking into schools, and not just looking into schools to apply to you. But let’s say you’re accepted to five colleges, how do you choose which one? A huge factor is gauging how well, you know and how open and welcoming these colleges are. But fortunately, they’re all becoming more and more welcoming by the year. So that’s not to say some art and some art.

Debbie Reber  34:41

That’s great. Well, as a way to wrap up, I was thinking about, you know, when the stock market is all over the place, there’s often like a correction, you know, if a stock has been wildly high or whatever, and I’m just wondering, are we going to see a similar correction in the admissions process if you were to kind of look into the future, you know, Are you excited about this direction? Do you feel like their changes that are happening are ultimately going to take us to a better place for this process?

Eric Karlan  35:10

So I’m going to say yes, no. And hopefully, yes. So I think that the yes is everything we’ve spoken about already, the greater ability for students to be open and authentic more than ever before. I think that, you know, the encouragement of students to be thinking, to be more thoughtful about their extracurricular activities, what they do outside of the classroom. I think too often, when we’re talking with our students, we talk in these broad terms as if there’s a checklist that they need to master, oh, you need leadership, you need athletics, you need service. And students piecemeal these things together, you know, without much thought and one conversation. I love having the students Debbie is, you know, look within, like, what do you love? I gave a TEDx talk a few years ago and called What do I need to know about you and I talked about the idea of E key guy, which is a word taken from Japanese. And it’s to give you a visual, it’s this Venn diagram of what you’re good at, what you love to do, and what the world needs. And I think that high school is supposed to be a time where students embrace their curiosity and exploration, their adventurousness. And this is the time, this is the moment where you can find your EQ guy, and find synergies. I use the example of your child comes home one day and says, I’m going to start a rock band. And I go in and my talk to highlight how that’s a great source of creativity and leadership and collaboration and potential for service in a job. So I think it’s great that we’re giving more students the opportunity to do what they love. In fact, I think going back to admissions officers want to make that connection. They want to understand students, I think if a student’s doing 10 different things, and they don’t know who the student is, and what their values are, and what they’re about, you know, that hurts a student in admissions for lack of any other way of saying it, versus the students who have embraced who they are. And note, I’m not saying passions, because I think most of us don’t have passions in life, even adults. It’s a big thing to put on a young person, but they’ve embraced their values, their causes, they care about their interests. I think that’s great. So the No, in my answer, the biggest concern for me in the next few years, is that test optional. While it’s primarily something to promote diversity, and equity and inclusion and access, it’s also a gift for universities to give the perception, if not for, create a new reality of being more rejected than ever before. And I think we are already seeing that, to a huge extent, these colleges are not discouraging any applicants from applying. And I think that with test optional, there’s this passive invitation that, okay, I don’t have a good test score, I have a shot. Right. And I think that’s driving application numbers up in huge ways. By the way, you know, as part of that, I think students are now doing more work than ever before for college essays and applications, which is creating a huge amount of stress. And I think that what’s happening is, it’s not as simple as just saying these colleges are more competitive than ever, right? I think it goes back to mental health. It’s setting students up to hear the word no, more than ever before. And there doesn’t seem to be enough people stopping these students from doing that. Or it’s taken too lightly, that yeah, you’re gonna hear the word, no more than yes. But have we really thought about the implications of what that means for students and families to be quite honest with you in this process, and you know, as we see, more and more colleges by the year drop into single digit acceptance rates, you’re seeing more and more students be totally deflated as they finish this process. And instead of feeling incredibly excited as they choose their college and they take this next step in life, there’s a bit of bad taste in their mouth. And I think that colleges aren’t doing enough to tell students don’t just apply to every college, you know, be more thoughtfully apply to the right colleges. Find a balance list. Make sure that If you’re going to put yourself out there a lot, you’re ready to receive, you know, perhaps more negativity in the form of a denial than you ever have in your life. And if you can brace yourself, and you’re ready for that, that’s one thing. But if you’re not, it’s a tough thing. And it’s a tough conversation. I’m worried that we are in a bit of a rat race to the lowest possible acceptance rate. There was a satirical New York Times op ed years ago, it couldn’t have been five or six years ago at this point, where the whole article was about how Stanford finally achieved a 0% acceptance rate, and how all the other colleges and universities were incredibly jealous of how Stanford had accomplished that. And, I mean, you know, we laugh, we chuckle, but, you know, once you’re getting to three or 4%, not to mention 2%, for some, you know, one or 2% for some specialized programs, it seems more reality than ever before. So, I did offer hope, though, right? I said, yes, no, yes. And I do think there is a yes here, which is, as more of these students and more of these young people who are so impressive, and work so hard and have just incredible values and curiosities. As they become more spread out. Right? It’s not just eight colleges anymore, passively referencing the Ivy League there, right, which I always joke all the Ivy League as an athletic conference anyways, right? I mean, that’s what it boils down to. But as you know, as these students are getting more and more spread out, across liberal arts colleges, public universities, their State College is the top tier research institutions. I think that it’s not that we’re not getting the traditional elites off of a pedestal. But we’re raising up other institutions, we’re eliminating stigmas, that you only have to be at x, y, or z schools to achieve certain levels of success and life. And that idea gives me hope, that when these young adults become adults, become college and graduate school, you know, alumni and graduates, that they don’t forget this lesson, and they don’t lose that perspective. And that when they raise their own children in the years to come, and their own children are going through this process, there’s less pressure being put on their own kids, because they can say, you know, with more insight and experience to their children, we know you’re going to be okay, no matter what you will be successful. So we’re going to raise you to be better people, and not just better applicants. I hope I really am hopeful, Debbie, that that is accidentally the most positive byproduct that we can have. Out of the shifting culture. I hope right now we’re nearing or hopefully, we’ve passed the low point in all of this. And we can start getting to a place where students are being more thoughtful, and parents and parents in the years to come to be, are more appreciative and approach all of this with more gratitude and perspective and support and love than ever before.

Debbie Reber  43:28

Yeah. That’s a great note to wrap this conversation up. Can you just tell us a little bit about your company and how listeners could engage if they’re looking for support as they navigate this process?

Eric Karlan  43:42

Yeah, sure. So I started this company i co founded it with another guy I went to college with back in 2010. Our company’s name is Ivy Experience, which I want to be very clear to all listeners, we work with students, no matter what their goals are. In fact, last year, the students we worked with on essays and applications got accepted to, I think, nearly 350 different colleges, right. So the name is more representative, the fact that my business partner and I both went to Penn, we started this company right out of college, and it was more reflecting on our own experiences. But we really want to support students on their journeys no matter what their goals are. And we support students on academic tutoring, SAT and ACT test preparation, and then working with students and families throughout the college application process, especially on the essays, which is again a personal passion of mine and so many other people on my team. And what’s been amazing and pre-pandemic presume becoming such a part of our daily vernacular is while we started as a small local Philadelphia company, word of mouth is a beautiful thing. And now we’ve worked with students in 39 different states and 22 countries and counting. So it’s been amazing to work with so many different people all across the country and around the world on so many different facets of the process. So you can call at 267-888-6489. Our email address is info at my IV experienced comm. And then our company’s website is IV experienced.com. So there’s a lot of ways to reach out and engage with us. And we do webinars all the time for free, we really believe in educating families in this process. The more you know, the more of your anxiety can be reduced in this process, which whether you work with us or not, I think is huge and so vital as you navigate high school years.

Debbie Reber  45:46

Yeah, awesome. Well, thank you, listeners, I’ll have the contact info that Eric just shared also in the show notes. And yeah, I was just sharing before we hit record that I devoured an hour and 40 minute webinar, I learned so much. So thank you for your generosity today for sharing this with us for the work that you do. And hopefully making listeners who are in this phase with their kids feel a little more peaceful about the process.

Eric Karlan  46:13

I hope so. And thank you for everything you do to support families. And thank you for having me back. It’s really been a pleasure.

Debbie Reber  46:22

And now a quick break for a word from our sponsor. I don’t know about you, but I am always on the lookout for resources that can help differently wired kids build skills in areas like executive functioning, emotional regulation, and better understanding how their brain is wired, especially during the back to school season. So I love that Outschool offers tons of live classes like the power of impulse control sketchnoting for the ADHD brain, mastering math with Minecraft, autism, Lego club, executive function skills for success, friendship skills, and much more. In these and more than 150,000 other classes on every topic under the sun, Outschool takes kids ages three to 18, beyond the classroom, through small live classes taught by expert teachers all through an accessible online learning platform. Learn more about how Outschool can support your child’s journey at outschool.com/tilt. And use the code TILT to get a $20 credit toward your first class. And now back to the show. 

Debbie Reber  47:29

Hey, Elizabeth, welcome back to the show.

Elizabeth Hamblet  47:32

Thank you for having me. It’s nice to be here.

Debbie Reber  47:35

I wanted to bring you back because life has been different for the past couple of years. And I thought it would be really interesting to explore what that looks like, especially maybe I have a lot personally invested in this high school to college transition period as well. So another true confession there. But what I would like to just kick us off, if you could just take a few minutes and just introduce yourself and explain kind of who you are in the world and what you do.

Elizabeth Hamblet  48:02

Sure. My name is Elizabeth Hamblet and I have been working now 25 years, I think maybe more I try not to sit and think too hard about math in college disability services offices. I started my career in special ed back in the late 90s As a high school special ed teacher and case manager. And then when I began working at colleges I realized that there is a gap in the information about what happens at college for students with disabilities. And in addition to working at disability services offices began writing and making presentations about how to prepare students for a successful college transition.

Debbie Reber  48:44

That’s awesome. And when I had you on a couple of years ago, we talked about your book, which is from high school to college. And we really dove deep into what that looks like for a student who has any sort of learning difference. And I happen to know that you are actually today, you’ve just turned to in your updated edition of your book, which has a new title. Tell me if I’m getting this right, Seven Steps to College Success: A Pathway for Students with Disabilities. Did I get that right?

Elizabeth Hamblet  49:18

Seven Steps to College Success. Yes, well done. Thank you so much.

Debbie Reber  49:22

Well, I would love to know I mean it. First of all, it’s exciting as a writer to get to go back into your book. And it can be a little embarrassing, because you’re like, oh my gosh, I wrote that sentence. Oh, but also exciting to get the chance to make some updates. So I would love to start by knowing what were you excited about going in or what has really changed since you wrote that first edition? How did you go about doing that?

Elizabeth Hamblet  49:49

Well, thanks for asking. Yeah, I mean, it is both, you know, a tremendous amount of work and also very exciting and daunting and all those mixes of emotions at the same time to go back back. And yes, there’s that cringing. But I think, you know, one of the changes in this time is I have actually had the opportunity and enjoyed interacting a lot more with parents over the last several years, I run a Facebook community now for parents specifically focused on college transition and accommodations. And it’s given me a real look into the things that parents are worried about. And when I use parents, I mean, anybody who is looking after a student not to, you know, focus solely on on birth parents, but anybody helping a student. And so, you know, there are things that people are hearing that are wild to me and things that they’re worried about, that I wouldn’t think to be worried about. And so I’ve really spent a lot of time trying, you know, to answer every single question I think people will have and to be really thorough about the way I explained stuff. When I interviewed Brennan Barnard, along with Rick clerk a couple of months ago, Brennan had a mug that said something to the effect of it depends. And I find myself doing a lot of that when writing and when speaking to people. And I recognize that what parents and frankly, all of us want in life are a lot of reassurances. And we want to have really solid information, and feel like we know what to do and what the path looks like. And I hope that the book and my other work, you know, sort of gives people a view into what the college environment looks like, and gives them information that empowers them. But I always have to stop short, you know, I can never promise them anything. And I can’t say that it’s always going to be this way. Everything about the college environment and disability stuff is very individualistic.

Debbie Reber  51:53

The stakes do feel so high. Again, I’m in this stage of life. And so I am in so many Facebook groups of parents who have juniors or seniors in high school, who are remarking on this strange admissions season, more competitive landscape for getting into schools, and so much fear. And I think for parents of neurodivergent kids, that can feel even more overwhelming, because there’s so many unknowns, I’m wondering what I’m sure you see a lot of common threads. So what are some of the biggest questions or concerns that parents come to you with?

Elizabeth Hamblet  52:31

Well, one of them is, you know, first of all, like, Should my student disclose their disability when they apply. And I work in a disability services office with students who have been admitted, so I don’t know anything about what they put on their applications or not. But I interviewed several admissions directors for the book. And what they said was, they would like for students to tell them something about their disability, because what they want is a full complete picture of an individual and disabilities part of that. And what they also said, Isn’t this confusing. And at the same time, they don’t consider disability in their decision making that they actually can’t. So if you are a parent of a student, and none of your kids yet have applied to college, what you’ll find when you look at the common app, is that there aren’t any questions about disability because colleges are not allowed to ask. That’s an important thing to know. And so it’s really up to the student, whether they want to disclose and there are different ways to do it. But first of all, contrary to a rumor, you may have heard, there’s no quota, or minimum number of students with disabilities that each college has to admit. And that’s not a bad thing. It just is. And actually, what’s funny about it is it couldn’t possibly work properly in that, because students don’t have to disclose their disability when they apply, how would a college know how many students it was admitting? Because I don’t think you should assume that every single student would tell them that they had a disability. And so, you know, I do like to use stats that exist or, or the absence of them to kind of counter some of these ideas that people get. And there’s also no cap on how many students with disabilities in college can admit that, in fact, they specifically are not allowed to have a cap. So that’s a question people want to know if their student, for instance, didn’t take some of the classes that are required for admission, let’s say to Rieber University, whether the school would have to make an exception for their student because they have a disability and that’s the reason they didn’t take the class or they went to a specialized school that didn’t have the class or perhaps they were homeschooled, whatever it was, and the answer is they don’t have to make accommodations in that way or all Are there admission standard? They very well might. But, you know, again, those would be individualistic things. Now, I know that the University of California system has a formal opportunity for students who don’t meet their criteria to get in. It’s called admission by exception. And you can find that link online. I’m blanking on the specifics. But as far as admissions questions, those are the ones I hear frequently are the myths I hear.

Debbie Reber  55:32

That’s so interesting, the admission by exception, I’ll have a link to that, I’m gonna check that out. I just want to circle back, you said that schools can’t consider neuro divergence or learning disabilities as part of the process. And I read this very interesting thread on one of the aforementioned Facebook groups, about how some parents were quite upset that there wasn’t a formal place to say it because they saw their child’s lack of certain types of maybe leadership at school or, you know, things that their child may not have on their quote unquote, resume because of their learning disabilities, or their autism or their neuro divergence. And that, that it’s going to look like they haven’t done all this stuff. Meanwhile, this student has these very real learning disabilities and things going on that make them not a typical student, right? And so how do they make sure that school see the whole picture? And so you’re saying a student could disclose perhaps in an essay? Like there are other opportunities to do that?

Elizabeth Hamblet  56:35

Yeah, absolutely. When it comes to the essay, some of the consultants I know, you know, recommend that they write about whatever means the most to them. In other words, if you are a huge hockey fan, and that is your life, and you get up at four in the morning to go play hockey, then write about that there is a section on the application, it’s called, like additional information or something like that. And they can put that in there. You know, we talk a lot in the transition field about this concept of self determination, right, all students who decide for themselves what they want to do, and it doesn’t mean that they should have to do so without any guidance from anybody. But that decision about what goes into that application really should be the students and you know, they can seek information the parents can suggest it, these directors all, you know, suggested being you know, fairly matter of fact about it, you know, I would think if you’re going to write an essay, perhaps you want to expand a little bit more, but you know, to have somebody else look at it and talk about the way what they’ve said and how they present themselves. And family should remember to you know, look, there are students who don’t have those activities, because they go to work, they have to work after school. There are lots of reasons why a student has it. I guess your point is, they want them to know about it. But I also wouldn’t see it as a negative either.

Debbie Reber  57:57

Thank you. That makes sense. So in the part of this episode, where I talked with Eric, we looked at what has changed because of COVID. Because over the last few years in terms of admissions trends, have you seen anything change in your work in terms of schools approach to students with learning disabilities? Are the supports that they have on campuses for students with different needs? Yeah, I mean,

Elizabeth Hamblet  58:22

certainly, I think probably all of us are seeing articles about colleges, adding counseling services, which you know, by the way, typically isn’t through the disability services office Counseling Center is usually its own entity, it might be under health services or student support. Anecdotally, I will say that I can see my colleagues in our community talking about more students coming in with mental health disorders, understandably, after a really rough couple of years. So I see that happening and what I also anecdotally am hearing stories of our more colleges, again, not necessarily through our office, but adding things like peer mentoring, adding academic coaching. A big question all the time is do they do executive function coaching? And I am hearing individual stories, I don’t know that it represents a trend or how big it is. Again, it’s not often through our office, I think there’s recognition on college campuses now that a lot of students would benefit from the kinds of things that our our students are asking for, because, you know, we’ve at least give kind of given a heads up but that there are a lot of students who would do well, with access to those kinds of services.

Debbie Reber  59:41

Yeah, just touring schools. It’s been really interesting before we hashed, and I visited maybe, I don’t know, eight schools. So for the past year, and I listened to our last conversation that you and I did, and listeners, there’ll be a link in the show notes, go back and listen to that as well. And it was super helpful. But I, I looked at schools differently, I really paid attention to what kind of, you know, the oh, there’s a writing lab here. So if you have paper, you can just go to the library, and there’s always someone there to help you with your paper. And I was surprised in a pleasant way at how much support I saw at so many schools that I wasn’t really anticipating. And also, I really recognize that it all comes down to the student seeking that support. And can you talk about that, that piece of where it needs to come from the request for help and advocacy?

Elizabeth Hamblet  1:00:33

Yeah, you know, the students have to go seek out the support that’s there. And that sometimes is the challenge in and of itself. You know, it’s great that there are a lot of schools now that are starting to add on these kinds of coaching services, and you know, academic coaches and things like that. But it is incumbent upon the student to go get there. And so, you know, for some students, the just the motivating is not the word I want activating to make that appointment is hard, I get interesting messages from parents, sometimes, you know, that student is embarrassed to go seek help, I try to emphasize that colleges have all of these services, because college is supposed to be challenging, we do expect students to need assistance, if it was easy. And when we wouldn’t have all that stuff, it can be hard for students to get around their feelings, sometimes of embarrassment, you know, and of course, you want to say to them, but if you run into somebody, you know it plays there, they’re getting help, too. But you know, sometimes it’s the organization piece, they don’t make an appointment until the very last minute or they go to make an appointment, all the slots are taken. And just to make this point here, just because students has a disability doesn’t quote unquote, entitle them to an appointment. When everything’s booked. For some students, that’s a different experience than they’ve had in the past. We don’t have to add on tutors, because students with disabilities have waited, and now all the slots are gone. So this is why all the stuff you probably have ever read about college transition and preparation talks about starting to get students accustomed to making their own appointments and organizing their time, perhaps sometimes cutting back on the amount of support they’re getting, so that they are not so accustomed to having somebody just show up and solve the problems that they don’t develop the skills that they need to go seek out help when they need. And then it’s not such a foreign experience. 

Debbie Reber  1:02:39

Yeah, that makes total sense. So you mentioned fee based programs. And I’m just wondering, again, I I’ve now been spending lots of time on websites and for different schools and trying to understand, and I, I will be honest, like, like I glaze over, I start all these things started looking the same. And I’m like, oh my god, like I really feel daunted by this process. So maybe you could just explain the difference between this special fee based programs, which I think more schools are starting to have kind of specific programs dropped in for the neurodivergent students versus kind of more typical disability services that might be individually customized for a kid who might come in and ask for certain supports.

Elizabeth Hamblet  1:03:25

Yeah, and I want to point out too, that, you know, there are some offices, disability services offices that go beyond the minimum. And you know, the challenge I think you just pointed to is, you have to do the research, you have to poke around these webs, and try to differentiate things. And I will send you the link, when we’re done, I have recorded a video of myself trying tracking through a Disability Services site to kind of poke around and see what they say about accommodations and how students get registered. And also look at that colleges greater support services. So that’s, you know, something that that your listeners can watch to try and get an idea of how to do that. And I have a form that they can use as they go through websites to kind of record this information. So to start with, you know, just so everybody knows the laws in place, don’t say colleges have to give this list of accommodations, it’s open, because obviously as technology, you know, improves more and more things are possible. And as students with more and more complex needs come to college, they’re going to have different kinds of accommodations. So there are some absolute basics that schools give like extended time for exams, and you know, permission to record lectures, things like that. But some schools might perhaps have a full time assistive technology specialist, who you know, not only is making sure that for instance, texts are being converted so that they can be read by text to speech software, but also has time to show students how to use these tools. So these are things that schools can look for. Some of them have executive functioning coaches that are available through the disability services office. And if it’s not part of a structured program, then that’s typically free. I know, I think it’s UMass Amherst, I was doing a workshop up there and was looking, give students a certain number of sessions with a learning disability specialist once a week for free. So these are the kinds of add ons that aren’t part of a structured program that folks can look at. And then the fee based programs, you know, at least at the time of this recording are clustered mostly on the east coast. But I’m starting to hear about others. The granddaddy is University of Arizona salt center. And the directors that I just interviewed for the book, I think all three of them, there are tears of support, which is actually you asked about, you know, changes since the last book, that was not something I heard last time. So I think programs, even the ones that were existing, have modified what they’re doing and now offer different levels, because sometimes students, you know, need a lot in the first year. And then as time goes on, they taper off. But some of them like the director at Salt said, you know, they have students who just like to check in. So those programs will often offer access to a learning disability specialist, once a week, there may be a certain number of emails that they said they may, some of them may check on grades, which not all of them do. And you know, try and keep students on track. That way, they might have workshops that they offer, especially some of them do college counseling, I mean, salt is enormous. They do counseling, counseling, they might do specialized career counseling, and some of them do offer scholarships. So that’s something to look at, if you’re looking at those programs, you know, check and see if they do scholarships. So we know they are adjustable now at least more of them. But what is something I want to share is that the directors had also said, you know, the students who do well with these programs are the ones interested in using them. ones who don’t get a lot out of them are the ones who lack self awareness about their own learning issues, about areas where they would benefit from improvement. And, you know, often they’re in that program because their parents wanted them in that program. 

Debbie Reber  1:07:35

Yeah, that makes total sense. I mean, as is the case, always, with our kids, they need to be bought in and intrinsically motivated, or none of this is going to work. And so many of us as listeners are being kind of the prefrontal cortex for our kids throughout their educational journey, and then they go to college, and then parents kind of expect that they’re going to take over and that doesn’t always happen right away. And listen,

Elizabeth Hamblet  1:07:59

I am a parent of young adults. And I empathize. I really, really do. I know that there are a lot of very academically capable students out there. And they think they are ready to go and the parents are worried. And, you know, the traditional path isn’t the right one for everybody. But when the student is kind of on it, and the parent wants to support that, I think it’s hard to look at what they’re going to have to do and sometimes look at the student where they are, and think about how this is all going to happen. Or do you know Ray Jacobson, oh, she’s a writer for child MIND Institute. I interviewed her for the last book. And she had, you know, a really circuitous journey to and then through college. And she said, a lot of really wonderful things. But one of the things she said is that, you know, sometimes parents think that because their kid got into the school, and sometimes the student, she said she herself thought that they just get in that that makes all the problems go away. And that’s that’s it, not to take away from the students accomplishment of getting into college. But nothing magical happens with that acceptance. And so I think, you know, senior year, certainly at the very latest is the time as I said, to scale back and I’m sort of, of two minds, like, if you’re in a traditional school district, and you’re you have a student on an IEP, and there’s a team, and you know, whatever you’re doing to it in your homeschool communities, you are focused on your student getting through high school, right, with a certain level of success. And I’m not here to say do that differently. That’s not my job. And you don’t want to hear that from me. But I think having an eye toward what it looks like when all these adults go away to college, is really important. And so it’s lots of trying to you know, tangle with you know, how do you get these competing goals. to work together, and you know, I would never say, you know, take all I’m not suggesting taking all support away from students. That’s not the answer either. But, you know, figure out where things are being done for the student, and whoever that is, needs to be working on teaching them strategies to accomplish those things themselves. And then we start to remove the supports and see because, you know, maybe students don’t have a realistic sense of how much they’re doing on their own. That’s one way to find out.

Debbie Reber  1:10:31

Yeah, and better to find that out, while the stakes are a little lower than months are up a college. I mean, certainly, we’ve talked to many people on the show who have had a very circuitous, you know, path, and have dropped out of college and gone. But you know, like, I think that that is probably more than norm than not for neurodivergent kids. But I think it can also be especially hard on their self esteem and confidence if they crash and burn, you know, freshman year, and then having to come back and reassess. And so I think it’s good to just be aware of that and think about those things. And like you said, I mean, as you were talking about that, I’m like, it’s kind of like thinking that, you know, if your relationship isn’t going well, well, let’s get married, or let’s have a baby that will fix everything. So just a good reality check there.

Elizabeth Hamblet  1:11:24

Look, I said this in a talk recently, and somebody really loved it. I think more parents of neurotypical students should be more worried about college. And they are, you know, there every single year, there are students who do not get invited back to the college they started at, and they don’t want to focus on the negative, but I think that it is a leap for a lot of students, you know, it’s a lot of self management. And so it’s hard to have a realistic sense of how a kid is going to do, excuse me, a young person, a young adult, when you send them off, you know, we all cross our fingers, I think and hope that they will, for instance, get enough sleep, eat reasonably well. 

Debbie Reber  1:12:06

Go to class, remember to eat. Yeah.

Elizabeth Hamblet  1:12:11

Right. And also, you know, it’s not, I mean, I haven’t been to college since a very long time. But you know, I don’t think it’s always like food is available whenever you want it like at home, you know, their designated times to go get something that isn’t garbage to eat. And it’s so much self management. Nobody is looking after these students. Nobody is you know, they don’t clear out the dorm in the morning and say, Okay, everybody now go to class and after class, the professors don’t say, Okay, now go back into the, you know, go to the library, or don’t go back to your dorm if your roommates going to talk to you go somewhere else and study.

Debbie Reber  1:12:45

That would be nice, though. I couldn’t use that when I was at college. 

Elizabeth Hamblet  1:12:49

Yes, the next few days program, I don’t know.

Debbie Reber  1:12:52

I did want to just say I looked up the SALT program…it’s the strategic alternative learning techniques program. So I’ll have a link to that in the show notes too. Before we say goodbye, you’ve already shared so much insight. And I think that last chunk was just such incredible, good advice to keep in mind. Is there anything else that you really want parents to know about this process? If there are parents of high school students who are just starting to think about this? Or maybe they’re right in the middle of it, and they’re feeling overwhelmed by all of it? What would you want them to know?

Elizabeth Hamblet  1:13:25

Oh, that’s a great question. I mean, first of all, let me start with the positive: students with disabilities are going to college and they are being successful, and they are graduating and they are going on to lives hopefully doing exactly what they want to do, or figuring out what they would like to do. So I think that’s it. You know, I think I was just looking at the stats. They don’t gather stats as often as we’d like for sure. But I think National Center for Educational Statistics, the 2015 to 2016, academic year, 11% of students enrolled at college said that they had a disability, and those are only the ones that said they had a disability there might have been others we don’t know about. So your student certainly has a lot of options. And there are more than 4000 colleges in the country to enroll in for your schools. So there are a lot of different options. So be enthusiastic and be optimistic. I think it is smart to look at the supports at all these colleges and at least have a sense of what’s available. Don’t forget, by the way, and neurotypical students should do this too, to look at graduation requirements for each college, because there may be variations. And while you know, colleges have to consider substitutions for courses that are very challenging to students. They don’t always have to make those and so, you know, if your student doesn’t like math, there may be colleges where they don’t have to take math, regardless of whether or not they have a disability. So that’s important and if they identified a major It’s a good idea to look at what kinds of classes those majors require, which is talking about when I worked at the State University here in New Jersey, we had a bunch of students in psychology who couldn’t pass statistics. And that is a very, you know, typical psychology requirement. And so I have one of my colleagues, who runs the Disability Services office at Boston, one of the things she said in her interview, and that’s a good resource for your community, too. She is co-author of a book for parents about students with autism go into college. And Laurie said, the reason it’s so important to learn about what doesn’t doesn’t happen for students with disabilities at college, in part is that she, as a disability services director, doesn’t want the first thing students to hear from us be “no.” And so the more you learn about what your students can expect the also the better opportunity, you have to prepare them for that. It is important to know what kinds of things schools do, it’s been a few years since we talked last. But you know, sometimes parents in my group say, well, she can’t write a paper, why can’t she just talk to the professor about it? Or you know, they can’t do multiple choice tests? Why can’t the professor give them another kind of test? And those are the kinds of things that are, you know, if they’re happening, they’re not happening frequently.

Debbie Reber  1:16:25

That’s great, thank you. And yet, listeners, the book that Elizabeth’s referring to there will also be a link to that in the show notes I what I do, just so listeners, you know, if you’re newer to this show, when we go through and edit this episode, I take note of every book title, expert, everything of import that comes up. And I always include links to those resources. So you can always go back and find that. So I’m super interested in looking at the video you mentioned in terms of watching you kind of do a deep dive into researching the disability services office of a school curious about that. And then I know that you also have a webinar that listeners can check out. So can you share about that, and then tell listeners where they can engage with you?

Elizabeth Hamblet  1:17:14

Oh, sure. Thank you. So yeah, I have an on demand webinar about academic accommodations at college. And there’s lots of free information that I have out, I have a site that’s full of posts that I’ve written just for that. And that had bonus interview content from the book, there’s a YouTube channel, all of this stuff that is free for folks to access. But the most information I offer in detail about academic accommodations is either in the book that will come hopefully late fall, and in this on demand webinar. And so I go through the process of how students get accommodations, and then a pretty long list of what they can generally expect to see approved, what is not often approved, what’s not an accommodation that students might ask for. And so they can access that there’s a direct link from my website. And if you can’t find it, you can find me all over social media. And just send me a message there. And I’ll send you the link directly. I don’t use Instagram that much. But sometimes on Facebook, I have a big community for parents, I try to answer questions that they have about accommodations. I try to connect parents of students looking at colleges to those already attending so they can get some information. I’m on Twitter, I’m on LinkedIn, if you’re looking for me, it’s not hard to find me.

Debbie Reber  1:18:39

Yeah. And if you’re in my Tilt Together, Facebook group, Eizabeth is in there as well. And is often chiming into conversations. And I just wanted to say thank you, I think you are such a valuable resource. And this is such a mystery to so many of us. And it really does feel overwhelming, because we don’t know what we’re doing. And you know, we’re trying to support our kids and navigating this new world. And so the work that you do, I think is just so invaluable. So thank you for that. And listeners, definitely check out all the resources and all the different ways to connect with Elizabeth online. Thank you so much. And yeah, we’ll look forward to seeing your new edition coming out hopefully at the end of 2022.

Elizabeth Hamblet  1:19:22

I hope so. And thanks for this opportunity. You know, I really enjoy engaging with parents. And you know, I want everybody to just take a deep breath, including you Debbie. Take a deep breath and empower yourself, find the information, know what’s going on and then you will know what the path forward is for your student.

Debbie Reber  1:19:44

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