Graduation Prospects of College Students with Specific Learning Disorder and Students with Mental Health Related Disabilities

Mary Jorgensen, Jillian Budd, Catherine S. Fichten, Mai N. Nguyen, Alice Havel


This study’s goal was to compare aspects related to academic persistence of two groups of college students with non-visible disabilities: 110 Canadian two and four-year college students - 55 with mental health related disabilities and 55 with Specific Learning Disorder (LD). Results show that students with mental health related disabilities were less likely to intend to graduate than students with LD. Students with mental health disabilities were also older, more likely to be female, to have worse personal circumstances and to feel more socially isolated on campus. They were also less likely to be enrolled in their first choice program or to be registered for campus disability related services than students with LD. Different variables predicted intention to graduate for the two groups. This is a key finding in helping students in these two groups successfully graduate, as they may have different academic, social, personal and accommodation needs. Recommendations are made about how to intervene to improve the academic persistence of students with mental health related disabilities. These include minimizing the fear of stigmatization and adopting a model where accommodations are based on students’ unique needs rather than their diagnoses. 

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Copyright (c) 2018 International Journal of Higher Education

International Journal of Higher Education
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