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Adults with Learning Disabilities

Adults with learning disabilities achieve the greatest success in college when they are knowledgeable about their disability and are aware of their personal academic strengths and weaknesses.

For many, the diagnosis of a learning disability does not come until people are in their 20s and 30s. By this time, their academic needs and goals have changed since when they were younger. It is common for adults students to have additional responsibilities that are typically related to their jobs and families. Their educational goals may be somewhat different from those of other students. Motivation for adult learners often is focused on career enhancement needs, as well as on self-development and growth.

While the diagnosis of a learning disability in an adult brings about many changes in his or her life, it is important to keep in mind that such a diagnosis need not keep someone from pursuing higher education. With support and information, many adults are able to be successful in college and achieve their goals.

It is interesting to note that, increasingly, people with learning disabilities are enrolling in two-year and four-year colleges and universities. Since 1985, among first-time, full-time freshmen who reported having any disability, the percentage of those with learning disabilities doubled from 15 percent to 32 percent.

Currently, nearly one-third of all freshmen with disabilities report having learning disabilities. Anyone with a learning disability who is considering going to college should be encouraged to pursue this goal without letting age become a barrier.