Learning Differences | March 2021
A Note from Stephanie
In this Newsletter
A Note From Stephanie

Featured Article

Upcoming Events and Deadlines

Class Specific Monthly Focus

College Spotlight

Test Prep Opportunities

Research, Job and Volunteer Opportunities

Scholarships

In Other News

Helpful Resources
Happy March!

With the official start of spring only a few weeks away, March is a time to get excited about what's ahead. Seniors are beginning to hear about colleges and by the end of the month, they should know the majority of their admissions decisions. Juniors are researching schools and building their lists. Some might even get the chance to visit colleges over Spring Break.

If you have attended any of my presentations you have heard me talk about fit when it comes to deciding where to apply to college (and ultimately where to enroll). Fit touches many levels and is unique to each student. This month we are focusing the conversation of fit on our students with learning differences. Understanding the resources available on college campuses is essential to determining academic fit. Our Featured Article breaks down the levels of support and provides some excellent resources. We have also highlighted the University of Denver in our College Spotlight due to its fantastic programs for students wanting a more coordinated level of support with regards to their academic accommodations. And don't forget to read the articles In Other News as they provide some great insight into what it is like to be a student with learning differences on a college campus.

Since March also brings our focus in the College & Career Center back to the seniors I have a quick message — Waiting can oftentimes be as stressful as the application process. Now more than ever, it is important to remember that stressing over the wait doesn't change the outcome. It is a good time to remind yourself that life is meant to be lived in the moment so, enjoy your friends and family and take advantage of all the moments in front of you. You've worked hard to get to this point. Be proud of that and know that wherever you end up, there will be a treasure for you to discover.

Warmly,



Stephanie Brady
College and Career Center Director
925-280-3935

Keep in touch & stay up to date:
Featured Article
A GUIDE TO DETERMINING FIT FOR STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DIFFERENCES
The idea of college, and all that word connotes, is often overwhelming for students and parents. From applications to transitioning to a new life on a college campus, the college process comes with a myriad of academic, social, and emotional challenges and triumphs. The idea of college, and all that word connotes, takes on a unique set of circumstances and concerns for the families of, and students with, learning differences. 

Because learning differences are lifelong and can affect all areas of an individual’s life— academic, social, emotional—it is essential to find a collegiate environment that can provide the appropriate level of services and accommodations that are not only required by law but necessary to ensure student success. 
 
Determining Fit

The level of services and types of accommodations necessary for a student with learning differences to be successful in an educational environment varies significantly from person to person, depending on the type and severity of their disability. For this reason, there is not a “one size fits all” approach. 

For all students, there must be a marriage of fit and match. How is a school a fit for a student’s unique set of likes and dislikes? How does their academic history match with the school’s statistics and acceptance data? In addition to traditional fit criteria, a significant consideration for students with learning differences is the level of services provided by an institution and how those services align with a student’s individualized learning needs. 

The level of intended services should be commensurate with the support a student received in high school. For example, students receiving the highest level of high school support through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) should consider an equally high or higher level of academic college support. During high school, most students have built-in support systems in family, friends, and community. While transitioning to college, students not only have to manage their own learning needs but, for many, also balance all of their executive functioning demands for the first time. Combining these two factors in a new learning environment can be challenging. High school students with a lower level of support, called a 504 Plan mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, may be academically successful at a college providing basic accommodations.
Consequently, it is essential to assess students’ level of accommodations in high school and target the appropriate tier of services necessary for college success.
Tiers of Services
Support provided by an institution falls into three general categories: Tier One (basic accommodations required under the American’s with Disabilities Act), Tier Two (Coordinated Services beyond basic 504 accommodations mandated under the ADA), and Tier Three (Structured Comprehensive Programs). 

Tier One | Accommodations
At this level of support, colleges are required to provide under federal ADA mandates for students who have physical or learning disabilities. This is the level of support available at most colleges and universities around the country. For instance, services offered may include but are not limited to extended testing time for students with processing disorders, preferred seating, lecture notes, and books on tape. In general, these are basic accommodations similar to the types of accommodations students with a 504 Plan have received in high school. Tier One support works well for students with strong self-advocacy skills.

Tier Two | Coordinated Services level support
This is a step up from basic accommodations. Students must meet the same admission requirements as all other students and then apply for services. Coordinated services may include but are not limited to coaching and or tutoring in specific subjects (typically writing and math), assistance with planning, academic skills, syllabi, calendar coordinating, time management, and other executive functioning strategies. This support level could be appropriate for both students who had IEP’s in high school and students with high school 504 Plans. As a general rule, institutions with Coordinated Services are a good fit for strong self-advocates, especially if students have an accurate sense of when they are starting to get overwhelmed by the academic workload and seek help before tests and exams. This tier of service works for students who understand their learning challenges and have found successful workarounds while in high school. Services may or may not be an extra fee outside of regular tuition.

Tier Three | Structured Comprehensive Programs
This is the highest support available at the collegiate level. These programs are limited in number and typically require extra tuition and or fees. Students share their disability upfront and apply both for admission to the college and admission to the program. Typically, students enrolled in comprehensive programs meet individually with a trained professional, such as a learning specialist, a minimum of once or twice a week. Instruction provides students strategies to supplement learning and create a detailed plan for success. Typically, comprehensive programs serve students with language-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia, processing issues, and ADD/ADHD. In general, comprehensive programs are ideal for students who understand their challenges and know they need significant support and regular, mandatory prearranged opportunities to check in with a professional to be successful. This support level is appropriate for students with an IEP in high school and/or part of the school’s Learning Skills program. 

Resources:
Upcoming Events and Deadlines
March 3: WCAC Virtual College Fair - 5:00 p.m. - Register
March 3: DVC Enrollment Presentation - Register
March 7: Big Future Days Northeast - Register
March 9: DVC Enrollment Presentation - Register
March 10: How to Pay for College - Tim Lenahan - 7:00 p.m. - Register
March 13: SAT Test date
March 14: WCAC Virtual College Fair - 1:00 p.m. - Register
March 17: Researching Colleges Webinar for Juniors- 7:00 p.m. - Zoom Link
March 24: Naviance Webinar for Sophomores - 7:00 p.m. - Zoom Link
March 30: Big Future Days West and Southwest - Register
March 31: Volunteer Year Ends for 2020-2021
Class Specific Monthly Focus
Seniors
Colleges Missing Out Wall
March is decision season! Starting March 1, the College & Career Center is launching its annual wall of college rejection letters. While we are confident you will receive plenty of good news, if you reach high enough, you will inevitably receive some “no’s” as well. Stop by the Colleges Missing Out Wall outside the C&CC and share your “bad” news with your Miramonte peers and us. As a community, it is important to celebrate each other's successes and help each other as we say goodbye to what “wasn’t meant to be” and move forward towards bigger and better things.

Registration for DVC
Attend an enrollment presentation to receive detailed information on how to complete the enrollment process and receive the earliest registration date. Enrollment presentations are on March 3rd and March 9th. DVC enroll

If you are a student with a 504 or IEP the enrollment presentation for the DVC Pleasant Hill Campus is March 4th. Presentations for the San Ramon Campus are March 3rd and March 9th. Registration link for any DVC session: DVC enroll
Juniors
Class of 2020 College Handbook
In preparation for your college application process, please open and read through the Junior Handbook (password is Classof2022). It is your comprehensive guide to the college application process at Miramonte. Start with the monthly timeline and make sure you are on track through March. Begin reading “researching colleges” and “building your college list” to prepare for the next steps.

Researching Colleges
Join us on March 17 at 7:00 p.m. for an evening Academy Session as we dive deep into the various search engines used for researching colleges. Researching schools is an essential part of understanding how schools are both a fit and match for you as you build your college list. Zoom Link

Virtual Tours
As you begin to research schools and build your college list, explore the Giant List of College Tours: a SpreadSheet with a comprehensive list of colleges and links to their various virtual tour options.
Sophomores
Sophomore year is all about expansion. Continue with your existing extracurricular activities or possibly get involved in new ones. Find a few activities to focus on and deepen your involvement. Think about how to take your interests to the next level. Consider taking on a leadership role in an area you shine. Pursue those interests over the summer—take on a job, volunteer work, internship, or self-directed project. Visit Teen Life or the College & Career Center Website for inspiration.
First Years
Take a moment and visit the College & Career Center page on the Miramonte Website here. Aside from offering college information, you can find leadership/volunteer opportunities, summer enrichment, and much more. Familiarize yourself with the many community services and summer programs available to expand your world.
Test Prep Opportunities
ACT Bootcamp | April 10, 11, 13 and 15
This course is designed as an intensive prep course for those looking to take the ACT on April 17. We have partnered with Tried & True to offer the course at a reduced rate. The cost is $199 and includes 8 hours of Bootcamp over 4 days. 
College Spotlight
University of Denver

Founded in 1864, the University of Denver is the oldest private university in the Rocky Mountain region. The 125-acre campus, located in a residential neighborhood, is considered one of the most beautiful in the country. A free, light rail train offers students easy proximity to downtown Denver, which opens the door to internship, work and entertainment opportunities.

With an undergraduate student body of 5.700, you won’t find crowded lecture halls — the school prides itself on individualized attention. Students report DU offers all the bells and whistles of a prestigious private school, without the cutthroat culture. Per students, DU has “basically every resource on campus for advising, counseling, health, and assistance with school work,” an “awesome” library.”

One of the highlights is the University’s Learning Effectiveness Program (LEP) It provides individualized support for neurodiverse learners with ADHD, students on the autism spectrum, and/or students who have a history of learning differences. The LEP program includes weekly one-on-one academic counseling, subject-specific tutoring, executive functioning support services including organization and time management skill-building, a pre-orientation weekend for LEP students, social skill-building resources and peer mentoring.  

Additionally, DU offers extensive opportunities for research starting at the undergraduate level and career achievement through internships and job placement. A student states, “Networking here “happens almost without effort; it is ingrained in every aspect of most classes and activities'' and there are “good connections with the Denver business community.”

Outside of the classroom, students enjoy attending DU’s ice hockey team that usually plays before a sold-out crowd of 6,026, Many students spend their weekends being active and enjoy meeting people through the Alpine Club, which “sponsors trips to nearby mountains, deserts, and parks for outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, biking, and backpacking.” With its outdoorsy culture, support for learning differences, and strong academics, DU is worth the look.
Research, Job and Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteering
Community Service Year Coming to a Close
Our current community service year ends on March 31. The deadline to have all hours submitted and validated is April 15. If you have any questions please email Ms. Mosher. For detailed information on opportunities, what qualifies, and awards please visit the College & Career Center website

Excellence in Community Service Recognition
The Class of 2021 is the first graduating class to receive the Excellence in Community Service Award in recognition of a commitment to community service throughout high school. Seniors who meet the qualifications will be commemorated with a light blue honor cord to be worn at graduation.  To qualify for the award students must:

  • Earn the President’s Service Award for 3 years beginning with your freshman year.
  • Complete a minimum of 300 hours of volunteer service; 50 of those hours must be completed in your senior year before December 15.
Scholarships
It is scholarship season and many of the local scholarships available to our students have deadlines in the months of March and April. Naviance has a comprehensive list but we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of our favorites:

CLAY SCHOLARSHIP - Deadline March 12, Award amount varies, Minimum GPA 2.5
Merit-based; need-based

ORINDA WOMEN'S CLUB SCHOLARSHIP (female) - Deadline March 18, $1,000,
GPA n/a, Need-based

JOSEPH DAUGHERTY MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP - Deadline April 15, $1000, Minimum GPA 3.5, Merit-based
 
New MCCARTHY SCHOLARSHIP FOR LEADERSHIP - Deadline April 15, $1,000 , Minimum GPA 2.5, Merit-based

New HARRIET RESILIENCE SCHOLARSHIP - Deadline April 9, $1,000 each to (2) recipients, Minimum GPA 2.5
In Other News
What it Takes to Get Into College with Learning Differences

Anxiety around college applications is near universal for the nation’s high school juniors and seniors, but no two students’ experiences are alike. For students with learning differences, the process can be doubly anxiety inducing

Top College Search Tips for Students With Learning Differences
The right opportunity can go a long way for students with learning differences. Here are some tips to start off strong in your college search.

Admission Haves and Have-Nots

In January, two things are clear. Most of the colleges that had been doing well before the coronavirus are still doing well -- many of them exceptionally so. The other thing that is clear is that colleges that serve primarily low-income students are
not doing well.
Helpful Resources
Miramonte College and Career Website