The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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April 19, 2024

Whitman hosts college panel for learning-disabled students

The Whitman Students with Accommodations Committee hosted a panel May 25 to address college readiness and the transition to college for students with learning disabilities.

Graphic by Charlotte Alden.
Graphic by Charlotte Alden.

Four panelists spoke at the event: Director of Academic and Disability Support at American University Deborah DeMille-Wagman, college counselor Sue Cook Christakos, Whitman parent Teresa Jones and Whitman graduate Dwight Wang, who currently attends McDaniel College.

The meeting’s intent was to give people information about accommodations in college in a comfortable environment, Students with Accommodations Committee chair Elise Browne Hughes said.

“One of our panelists, Teresa Jones, was going through the college process herself and there wasn’t much information available,” Hughes said. “Besides paying a college counselor, there aren’t a lot of places you can find accurate and direct information, so we wanted to provide that.”

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While the meeting included general information on the college application process, its main message was that students need to be self-sufficient and mentally mature before college.

“If students can’t wake themselves up or pick up prescriptions, they may not be ready for college,” DeMille-Wagman said.

Students also need to be aware that unlike high school classes, college courses aren’t reduced in workload for learning-disabled students. The Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees extra support, but students are held to the same academic standards as those without disabilities, she said.

Because college presents potential academic and mental challenges for those with disabilities, panelists also answered questions regarding gap years options for students who aren’t ready for college yet—a relief to some parents.

Since most Whitman students go to college, it’s difficult to make an unorthodox decision, even if it’s best for an individual, Whitman parent Jennifer Powers said.

“The panel gave a different message than you typically hear,” Powers said. “For some kids, college immediately after high school just isn’t the right choice.”

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