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ADHD college students Archives - College Bound Advantage

College Programs to Support Students with Learning Differences: ASD Affinity Program

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In my last blog entry, we looked at Muskingum University’s PLUS Program, one of the two oldest programs supporting students with learning differences in Ohio and easily the largest. Their resources are substantial and their approach is time tested and effective. This week, we will turn our attention to a unique and specialized program solely serving the needs of college students on the autism spectrum (ASD).

As the number of children diagnosed with ASD increases, the need is greater than ever to provide for avenues of success into adulthood. Higher education can be an appropriate step for college age students with ASD who are academically able to succeed but may require social and living support to navigate the traditional college residential campus.

Nationally, there are very few college programs specializing in providing learning support services to students with ASD. Defiance College’s “ASD Affinity Program” was modeled after a similar program at Marshall University in West Virginia. The ASD Affinity program was launched in 2014 and builds on Defiance’s success with its Hench Autism Studies Program, which began in 2007. While ASD Affinity Program is small, they celebrated the graduation of their first 4 students last spring.

Students accepted into the program receive campus housing with live-in staff support and supervision by trained individuals, peer mentoring, course tutoring by trained tutors, and co-curricular opportunities. Students work with faculty advisors within their area of study and schedule regular meetings with trained staff members. ASD Affinity Program students have a private room but share an open area with another student (suite-style).

The ASD Affinity Program is directed by Dr. Clarissa Barnes, the director of Defiance’s Hench Autism Studies Program and an assistant professor of special education at Defiance College.

ASD Affinity Program Services cost $6,000 per semester in addition to regular tuition, room, and board. However, a special financial aid fund has been established to provide financial assistance toward the separate ASD Affinity Program Support Fee on the basis of demonstrated financial need. Additionally, students may be eligible for aid from “Autism Speaks.”

ASD Affinity program applicants typically meet the following requirements:

  • Are 18-24 at initial enrollment
  • Have a documented diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (DSM-5); autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) (DSM-IV-TR) (as indicated by a psychological evaluation)
  • Have an average intellectual ability (e.g., intelligence quotient > 80 as determined by intelligence testing)
  • Meet the Defiance College academic admissions requirements: 2.25 GPA and 18 ACT
    *Please note: Consideration for admission to the ASD Affinity Program also requires completion of the separate Defiance College Application for Undergraduate Admission.
  • Are independent with self-care and hygiene skills (e.g., bathing, oral hygiene, shaving)
  • Are independent with all medication administration
  • Are able to stay overnight independently (that is, at least one night alone) and complete all necessary daily living skills
  • Have no documented incidents of aggressive behavior toward others or self-harm within the last 5 years

Application details are available online.

The ASD Affinity Program is the only college learning support program in Ohio focusing solely on students with ASD. While still small and in its early years of development, it has been modeled after the recognized and successful program housed in Marshall University’s Autism Training Center.

Next week we will look at the last of our programs supporting college students with learning differences. This one is located at a small college in the northern part of our state and enjoys an impressive record of success. You will want to join us for that one!

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

College Programs to Support Students with Learning Differences – The PLUS Program

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In my last blog entry, we looked at University of Mount Saint Joseph’s impressive “Project EXCEL.” Their strong staff of experienced, professional tutors and structural supports were impressive indeed. In today’s blog, we will look at one of the oldest and easily the largest program serving students with learning differences in Ohio, Muskingum University’s “PLUS Program.”

Launched in 1983 (only one year after the University of Mount Saint Joseph’s Project EXCEL), Muskingum University’s PLUS Program has become nationally known and recognized.The PLUS Programis a comprehensive academic support service for college students with learning differences (ADD, ADHD, & Specialized Learning Disabilities such as dyslexia, etc.). Designed to empower, not rescue, the PLUS Program is staffed by an Executive Director, administrative personnel, and a full complement of adult learning consultants (10-12), learning associates, mentors, and auxiliary tutors. All professional Learning Consultants, Learning Associates and Mentors have Bachelor or Master’s degrees.

Students in the PLUS Program are supported outside of class in their state-of-the-art facility while attending classes with everyone else. Through “Embedded Learning Strategy” instruction, students are provided instruction in learning strategies that are embedded in course content. This instruction builds upon the strengths of each student while addressing levels of comprehension and mental organization that are often difficult for students with learning differences.Three levels of service are offered and additional fees are charged depending on the level of service. Many students begin at Muskingum utilizing “Full” services, but later migrate to the “Maintenance” or “Essential” levels of service as they gain confidence and skill.

Full ($8,780 per year) andMaintenance ($5,300 per year) levels of PLUS Program services includes:

  • An Average 2-4 hours per week of weekly individual consultations
  • Personalized and course-specific embedded learning strategy instruction
  • PLUS professional Learning Consultants/Associates
  • Learning Conversations with academic coaching
  • Executive Functioning support
  • Strengths-based approach
  • Focus for Success system
  • Academic oversight. For Full Services, a learning plan is included

The “Maintenance” level offers the same services as the “Full” level, however with less frequent specialized course learning strategy instruction.

Essential ($2,900 per year) level of PLUS Program services includes:

  • up to 2 hours per week of weekly individual consultation
  • Individualized general strategy instruction
  • PLUS professional mentors
  • Strengths-based approach
  • Academic oversight

Currently the PLUS Program serves approximately 180 Muskingum students (out of approximately 1400 full-time undergraduate students). This makes it the largest program of its type in Ohio. It should be noted that University admission requirements are the same for all students and the Non-PLUS student population has no knowledge or care as to who is a PLUS student.

Students may apply to Muskingum University and the PLUS Program after completing the junior year of high school, or they may transfer from other postsecondary programs. Qualified students may apply for PLUS Program services either when applying for admission to the University or following their enrollment. Each applicant is evaluated by a committee for his/her potential to complete degree requirements.Space in the PLUS Program is limited, and students are encouraged to apply early.Students should have a strong college preparatory secondary school curriculum as course and graduation requirements are not compromised for PLUS students.Based on careful evaluation of admission materials and documentation, applicants are invited to the campus for a personal interview with a member of the PLUS Program staff. At this time they can also talk with the Admission staff, members of the faculty, and other students.

The PLUS Program is one of the two oldest programs in Ohio supporting students with learning differences and easily the largest. Their resources are substantial and their approach is time tested and effective.

Next week we will take a look at a unique program specializing in providing learning/living support for students with spectrum disorder. Don’t miss it.

About the Author: After touring 60 of the best colleges in Ohio, Dr. Jay, a prior faculty member and dean, founded College Bound Advantage (CBA) – a Columbus, Ohio college consulting firm. CBA specializes in helping families optimize college selection around 18 “fit factors” and helping students clarify co-curricular and major options while exploring colleges that specialize in them.  College Bound Advantage serves all of Ohio including Cleveland, Akron, and Cincinnati metro areas. Check us out at www.collegeboundadvantage.com or check out what we can do for you here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6SSjHp8n98

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