Monday morning Q & A

Cathy asks:

“My son is dyslexic and it has hindered him from taking honors classes. He has a diagnosis and an IEP. Is it better to let colleges know about this or not? Maybe an essay topic?”

Great question, Cathy. Here’s my past post, “Five college planning tips for students with learning disabilities.” You’ll see that tip #5 recommends that students share their story with colleges. But I also mention the essay is only one way to share that information.

I make the distinction because the single most important ingredient in crafting an effective college essay is to let students write what they want to write about. Yes, there’s plenty of room for good advice from counselors, English teachers, and other experts who likely know more about admissions and/or essays than a 17-year-old student does. But you want to avoid a scenario where strategy overtakes the student’s choice.

Is your son proud of the efforts he’s made to overcome his learning difference? Does he feel it defines him in some small or large way? Is it important to him that colleges understand that slice of his life? If so, that’s a topic worth considering. But if not, let him choose something he’d be excited to write about. And use the other pieces and parts of the application to share the facts of his LD history.

So yes, I think he should make colleges aware of the challenge he’s faced in his academics. It’s important for them to understand as much of the entire picture as the application will allow. But I’d let him make the choice of where to do it, and how much to share.

Thanks for your question, Cathy.

I’ll answer another one next week. You can submit yours for consideration here.