Monday, November 22, 2010

A Supportive College with a Real World Focus

We had the opportunity last week to visit Northeastern University in Boston and to meet with the dynamic Director of The Learning Disabilities Program, Mary Barrows. We had known about and were particularly interested in Northeastern because of the co-op program that is key to a Northeastern education. The co-op program had long been a five year curriculum that integrated periods of employment with semesters of classes. More recently, the program has been modified so that students can elect to participate in fewer co-op experiences and graduate in only four years.

As might be imagined, the focus on real-world work experience has an impact on Northeastern students' ability to enter the job market when they graduate and the school's successful placement figures reflect this. Furthermore, almost all Northeastern graduates who are out in the working world have indicated that they were better prepared for working because of their co-op experience.

Northeastern is very much an urban school and outdoor spaces are not extensive. The campus buildings range from drab and utilitarian to soaring and modern. The campus spreads out over 73 acres and has 37 residence halls, 26 dining places, and almost 16,000 full time undergraduates. Campus spirit is enriched by the University's 18 division one sports teams and a stroll around the campus offers constant reminders of student support for the Husky teams.

In this large, urban setting, students with learning and attention issues can really benefit from the personalized attention and individual support offered by the Learning Disabilities Program.

Mary Barrows explained that the Learning Disabilities Program is an intensive support program requiring a separate application and fee. Students are accepted after submitting documentation about their learning or attention difficulties and are personally interviewed before a determination is made about whether they would be a good fit with the program. Ms. Barrows noted that the students in the program are assigned a learning specialist that they meet with two hours each week. They receive support from their learning specialist in the academic aspects of their courses, plus such more general learning related issues as time management, writing, organization, study skills, and self-advocacy.

Students who are not accepted to the Learning Disabilities Program, or who choose not to apply, are still entitled to accommodations through the campus Disability Resource Center, which assists students with appropriate documentation receive such accommodations and services as extended time on exams or note-taking services. The Disabilities Resource Center follows the legal standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

No comments:

Post a Comment