Post Secondary Educational Options


There are many postsecondary options for people who have learning disabilities. Whether it’s a four-year college, a two-year college, a technical program, adult basic education, continuing education, or a life skills program, the key to choosing the right school for you starts with these steps:

  1. Contact your selected school’s Office of Disability Support Services to set up a meeting.
  2. Take your current learning disability documentation with you for that meeting.
  3. Know what accommodations you will need to ask for in a college or university setting.
  4. Determine if the school will provide your requested accommodations.
  5. Follow with a tour of the campus and interviews with faculty and staff.

Types of Postsecondary Options

Four-year Colleges and Universities

Students attend four-year colleges and universities to earn bachelor’s degrees by successfully completing the degree program. There are hundreds of these institutions to choose from, and they vary by size, admission criteria, academic standards, and what types of courses they offer.

Many four-year colleges and universities also have graduate and professional schools. Students interested in studying for a profession that requires more than a bachelor’s degree will attend a graduate or professional school in order to earn a master’s, specialist’s, and/or doctoral degree(s).

Two-Year Colleges

Students attend two-year colleges to earn an Associate of Arts (AA) degree or an Applied Science (AAS) degree. Students who earn an AA degree may later transfer credits to a four-year college or university. Those who have earned an AAS degree (which is occupation-specific, such as automotive technician) may be able to transfer some credits earned to a four-year institution.

There are two different types of two-year colleges – public community colleges and private junior colleges. Public community colleges have open-admissions policies. These institutions are not typically residential. Private junior colleges often require entrance examinations or some level of equivalent work experience and/or extracurricular activities. Most are small residential schools; students live on campus or in the surrounding community.

Vocational-Technical Schools and Programs

Nursing-students-Postsecondary-Options1Vocational-technical schools and programs offer education and training that is specifically targeted to specialized areas within the employment domain. Career choices may require that students first obtain the specialized training that these programs offer before a reasonable job search can occur.

Students can access programs focusing on different occupational areas in both public and private vocational-technical schools. Examples include computer technician, nurse’s aide, geriatric medical assistant, broadcast technician, veterinarian assistant, plumbing, air conditioning, truck driving, barbering, or cosmetology.

Adult Education and Continuing Education Programs

A wide range of course offerings can be found in adult education and continuing education programs. In these programs, students can study to take the GED® Test, improve basic academic skill, or take a course for self-enrichment.

The Adult Basic Education (ABE) program provides free instruction in reading, writing, and thinking skills to those who do not yet have high school diplomas or have deficits in basic skills.

Adult education also includes a national system of literacy groups. Trained volunteers individually tutor students of varying levels of reading literacy.

Continuing education programs are most often housed at colleges and universities. The only requirement may be to pay the course fee. Students may take continuing education courses to see what a similar college academic course will be like, to retain certification in specific fields of study/employment, or for self-enrichment.

Life Skills Programs

Some students may not have the academic and/or social skills to attend four-year colleges or universities, two-year colleges, vocational-technical programs, or adult education programs. Such students may have the need and desire to increase basic academic skills and knowledge, but may have an equal need to learn increased social and life management skills, while also receiving vocational training. Several life skills programs exist throughout the country, offering training for independence.

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Feel free to leave a comment below regarding this article. If you have a specific question for LDA, please contact us directly.


  1. I live in a very small state with no nearby job seeker aid for people like me with LD. My LD has been a constant struggle and it seems like there’s no help for people like me. LD adults are consistently underemployed, unemployed or limited to low paying manual labor jobs. Majority of homeless people have LD.

    Still very much a “seeing is believing” problem. Much more so for adults than kids, as for adults there’s no assistance & we are very much left on our own to fight & compete for jobs. What’s worse is nobody’s doing anything about this.

  2. My 17 year old son was initially diagnosed PDD-NOS, neurologist later suggested Aspergers, but never confirmed, finally settled on ASD. He received ABA daily (through kindergarten), speech, physical and occupational therapies as well as many non-traditional therapies throughout middle school in mainstream with a paraprofessional. He has not received any traditional services since entering high school. He is fairly social (mostly texting), is very involved with musical theater, drama and karate (alternative therapies we chose and paid out-of-pocket when we discovered his love of the stage). This year, he is graduating with an advanced regents diploma from a private catholic school in nyc. He is exceptional in so many ways. However, he has not been accepted to any of the colleges he applied to, due to his inconsistent transcripts and low gpa (now 71). His class involvement and grades are reflective of his emotional state in each of the classes. Peer tutoring and private tutoring from teachers didn’t help in many situations (neither did private tutor specializing in students with asd. He rehearses appropriate answers to specific questions (much like a script), so he appears to understand, but cannot apply it on tests without the appropriate prompt. Basically, he has all the right answers, we’re just asking the wrong questions. He still has trouble advocating for himself, usually because he is unaware there is a problem until it is brought to his attention. He learns best by imitation, which is sometimes the distraction. I’m at a loss for the next step, as he seemed to be heading to college and we have no transition plan in place. We’ve used most of our savings and what would have been his college savings on alternative therapies to get him this far. Any suggestions on how to proceed?

  3. Karen Carpente says

    I live in West Virginia and have a 14 year old granddaughter who has learning disabilities. We need to know if there is a “good”life skills program in our section of the U.S. to help her get more independent with the goal for her to be able to live in her own apartment, and be able to contribute to society by having some sort of fulfillment from a job someday . She will also need some job training with the program helping to place these individuals into a job. In fact, we could use a list of states, cities, etc. in the Eastern U.S. Thanks, in advance, for prompt and helpful reply. This young teen is a beautiful young lady and she did not deserve the problems she was born with. She has come a long, long way but still struggles . Please help us to help her.

  4. Our 21 year old grandson has his (regular) HS diploma and can hold down a waiter job. Executive function skills are a problem. Is there any housing support in Northern Virginia that we can rely on to have him be able to move out on his (supported) own?

  5. Jawanza Tillman says

    Hello, my name is Jawanza Tillman, and i have this 20 years old brother that has a learning disability. He went to high school and got his certificated in completion. He wants to go to college but Unfortually we don’t no were to start.

    • Hi Jawanza,

      Not sure if this applies to your state, but in California if someone with an IEP receives a certificate of completion, that person is eligible for special education services through their local school district until age 22. So you may want to start with your school district’s Special Ed department as they should have a post high school program for your brother.

      Also, in California the Department of Rehabilitation has jobs programs that assist people with learning disabilities. Our DOR has a program called Workability that is tied into school districts and community colleges. Here’s an example

      Hope this info is helpful,

    • Try starting at a disabled school… my band teacher is colorblind and he went to a school and college for the blind… I am sure they have learning disability schools.

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