College Students
Learning disabilities in college may affect only one subject area while others impact on
several courses.  Learning disabilities, however, directly affect academic skills.  Some
of the common characteristics of learning disabled college students are as follows:

Reading:  College students with learning disabilities often read very slowly.  They
demonstrate poor comprehension of the material and cannot retain facts, details, and
concepts.  When reading aloud, they may confuse sounds or have difficulty
understanding new vocabulary.  They may also have difficulty understanding printed
directions.

Written Language:  College students with learning disabilities have difficulty with
sentence structure and often include run-on sentences, poor grammar, or unsupported
ideas when writing.  They frequently have spelling errors and weak punctuation skills.  
They may miss the point when writing or get off the topic easily.  When copying from
the board, they may copy incorrectly or run out of time.  On written assignments such
as essays and tests, they write very slowly and often do not finish.

Mathematics:  College students with learning disabilities usually have an incomplete
mastery of basic math facts and easily forget them.  When completing math items or
copying from the board, they may reverse numbers or confuse operational symbols
(especially x and +).  These students have significant difficulty remembering sequences
when solving math problems, feel confused when doing word problems, and cannot
easily retain abstract math concepts  

Oral Language Skills:  College students with learning disabilities are unable to
concentrate and comprehend oral presentations.  When they seem to understand a new
idea in class, these students later have difficulty explaining the ideas verbally.  Often
they can write about the ideas but face difficulty when asked to explain them further in
writing.  These students also find telling stories or procedures in correct sequences
quite problematic.

Adults with documented learning disabilities are entitled to the same legal protections
against discrimination as individuals with physical disabilities.  Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits the discrimination of disabled individuals from any
program receiving or benefiting from federal assistance.  In college, students with
learning disabilities are therefore entitled to “reasonable accommodations” to insure their
academic success.  These accommodations may include taped textbooks, alternative
testing arrangements, extended testing time, and note taking services.

Students who are concerned about their academic performance and question whether a
learning disability accounts for their on-going difficulties are encouraged to contact the
Disabled Students’ Program office on campus.


Jennifer Grimes, Ph.D.
Licensed Educational Psychologist

2062 John Jones Road, Suite 210
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 758-3114      (707) 435-0147