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Parent Resources

Accommodating Students with Disabilities

Dickinson College is committed to ensuring equal access and reasonable accommodations to all qualified students with documented disabilities. At Dickinson, students with disabilities represent over 20% of the student population, and Access and Disability Services (ADS) is here to facilitate equitable access for them. All initial inquiries and assistance with documentation is handled by John Joyce and Tracie Clevenger, both of whom can be reached at

Parents and Guardians: What to Expect

You may be concerned that your child will have a difficult time transitioning to college. A good way to ease those worries is to encourage your soon-to-be college student to learn all they can about what college life will be like and to forge a transition plan. Dickinson offers a variety of resources to promote success and independence for all students.

One of the main differences in college for students who received academic accommodations in high school is the way that professors are made aware of a student's eligibility for academic accommodations. If a high school student has an IEP or 504 Plan, all teachers are provided with that plan by the administration, which includes the student's diagnostic information. In college, however, students are responsible for informing their professors of their accommodation needs. At Dickinson, students who are deemed eligible for academic accommodations are set up with something called an Access Plan that only conveys the accommodations for which they are eligible (with no diagnoses), and students choose which accommodations they intend to use for which classes and then convey their plans electronically to their professors. It is completely up to them to decide with which professors they would like to share their eligibility for accommodations and whether they would like to share the reasoning for them with their professors or not. We often encourage students to consider sharing something about tasks with which they may struggle, so that professors can better understand what their challenge areas are, and possibly provide related guidance.

Have your student join you in checking out the differences between High School vs. College, and reviewing our Accommodation Process to learn more about what can be expected for a student who is savvy enough to set up any necessary accommodations as soon as they are known to be needed.

Tips for Parents and Guardians

  • Encourage your student to communicate and self-advocate (but it may still be prudent to inquire and cheer on)
  • Nudge your student to start early! The sooner a student discloses and makes a request for accommodations, the more smoothly the process will go for everyone. In general, once all documentation is received by ADS, 6 weeks are needed to finalize determinations for academic accommodations.
  • Share with your student any concerns you have and issues you think need to be discussed with Access and Disability Services (ADS). Remind your student that such conversations are confidential and that students remain in the "driver's seat" with regard to their own disclosure and requests for accommodations. 
  • If you're making a campus visit with your student, don't be insulted if your son or daughter prefers to meet with an ADS staff member without you present. Some students may prefer that this meeting be a private one.
  • If you do attend a meeting, wait until after your student has had an opportunity to share information or ask questions before asking your own or addressing any concerns that were not met.
  • Acknowledge and accept your child's limits and strengths, and be open to new changes.
  • Promote exploration of new opportunities and new relationships.
  • Let your student know that you are there if help is needed, but also encourage your student to identify the resources available on campus, including advisors, peer tutors, First Year Mentors, the Wellness Center, the Writing Center, librarians, Peer Advisors, the Advising, Internship, and Career Center, Academic Success Workshops, Time Management Strategists through Strategies, Organization, and Achievement Resources (, etc. 
  • If you feel the need to communicate with ADS, include your child in the conversation by CCing them! ADS is limited in what information can be shared with parents due to FERPA confidentiality laws, but we understand that some students may appreciate having their parents involved in conversations in which they are seeking strategy guidance.
  • If a student wishes to complete a FERPA consent form, that would allow ADS the ability to discuss their documentation and accommodations with their designated parent(s) or guardian(s). Please know, however, that we prefer talking with students, rather than about students whenever possible. 
  • Finally, be prepared for major stumbling blocks and bumps in the road. Remember that we often learn and grow the most when we are challenged and things don't come easily. Contending with obstacles and overcoming adversity is one of the many ways that students with exceptionalities are exceptional!

Please take a few minutes to review Dickinson College's Parent Philosophy.

Helpful Resources

Essential Six - Helping Parents Support Their Students (PPT)
Survival Tips for Parents
ADDitude Magazine article on Diet and ADHD
Disorder, Disability, or Difference -- which to use when?


Below are the websites of outside professionals who are not affiliated with Dickinson, but who have notified ADS that they are available to provide fee-based coaching services to Dickinson students. (Listed in alphabetical order.)
Please note that Dickinson is not promoting or endorsing any of these services, but rather sharing their existence with those who may be interested in pursuing external academic support services. 

Support for students throughout the Fall 2023 Semester.  Strategies and Accountability to keep students on track.  Every Monday at 6:30 PM eastern time with ADHD expert Meg Leahy.  $1600 for 11 weeks.  October 2 through December 11.  For more information, go to or call Meg at 484-222-0272.

If you have any questions, contact Meg Leahy at or by calling (484) 222-0272.

  • (CollegeSolved)
    • LAUNCH Program: LifeSolved offers a 6-month program for students aged 18-25, aimed at supporting individuals become more functional and independent. Applications accepted on a rolling basis through July 31st. More information can be found at their website.

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