#47 The Neurodivergent College-Bound Journey Transcript



Eric Endlich  0:00  

All colleges will have disability accommodations, such as extra time on class extra time on tests or taking a test in a separate classroom. If you need a quiet space, sitting in the front row, bringing your laptop to class, getting the professor’s notes, getting recording of the lectures, and those are accommodations, which in theory you can get at any college. But then there’s services like having a professional or peer mentor, having academic coaching to help you with time management. Those are services that might be part of a learning support program that would not be available at all colleges.


Lisa Marker Robbins  0:36  

Neurodiverse college bound students with learning differences may have a path to college that looks different than their typical peers. But the key is yes, there is a path away to set your students up for a successful journey and college experience. My guest, Eric and Lik, as a clinical psychologist, independent educational consultant, and maybe most importantly, the dad of a neuro divergent student. He has a wealth of expertise. In today’s episode, He guides us through the difference between being college capable and college ready, as well as how to strategize a successful experience for your neurodivergent student. I’m Lisa marker Robbins, and I want to welcome you to College and Career Clarity, a flourish coaching production. Let’s dive right in to a great conversation.


It is my pleasure to welcome Dr. Eric and lick to the podcast. He is both a clinical psychologist and he works with students who have learning differences and emotional challenges. find their path to college. He is an excellent resource for all students, but particularly this demographic that could use a little extra support. Eric, welcome to the podcast.


Eric Endlich  2:03  

Hi, thanks for having me. Lisa.


Lisa Marker Robbins  2:05  

you have top college consultants, and you’re in California. Is that right?


Eric Endlich  2:10  

I am Yes, I was on the East Coast for a long time. So I’m familiar with colleges across the country. And I get a lot of referrals all over the country, but I am in California.


Lisa Marker Robbins  2:19  

That’s correct. So that’s having that both coasts, you Yeah, bridging the gap of everything in between,


Eric Endlich  2:25  

I have a team of consultants, some of whom are on Eastern Time, some of whom are on Pacific Time.


Lisa Marker Robbins  2:30  

Wonderful. I know that we both are working with teens and their parents supporting both of them in this space. One thing that we both would say regardless of whether a student has a learning difference, or an emotional challenge, not everybody is always ready for college at the same time, and what college readiness looks like can really be confusing, but maybe even more so for this population. So kind of talk to our listeners about what it means to be college ready. And to know like this is what should come after graduation.


Eric Endlich  3:03  

Of course, with the pandemic, it’s a challenge for an even larger percentage of students, I think being because they had a very different kind of experience than students used to have during at least part of their high school for many of them. So, you know, one of the ways to think about it is if your child is doing well in high school, if they’re, especially if they’re taking challenging courses, like honors, eight, AP, IB, dual enrollment accelerated and they’re getting good grades, there’s a good chance that they’re going to be just fine with the level of academics in college. So I think of that as being college capable. They’re able to handle the rigor of college academics. And often that’s really what a lot of families are focused on, you know, am I can be ready for this college, can I get into this college, but I look at not just that, but are they college ready in terms of being able to handle the independence of living away from home. So unless they’re going to be living at home and say, going to the local community college, they’re gonna have all these other challenges to deal with, because there’s a lot of changes from high school to college, one of the biggest being that there’s a lot of free time, a lot more free time unstructured time in college, and they need to be ready to manage their own time, much more than they probably did in high school. That means, you know, planning, long term assignments, getting the reading done without a parent or teacher breathing down their neck to remind them getting along with roommates self advocating with professors Navigating on campus, doing their own laundry, thinking about you know, how much sleep they need, managing maybe impulses to do a lot of online gaming or social media. So all this other stuff that they now have to manage themselves, if they can be independent, great. If any of those areas are challenges for them, then those are things that they probably should be working on before they graduate high school.


Lisa Marker Robbins  4:51  

I love that term college capable because that’s really Yes, I’m capable of doing the academic piece I’m academically Ready, I can be successful in a classroom when I apply myself. But not every student who’s academic capable is really college ready. You know, when you say the piece about navigating that independent side, that could probably be hard for some parents to assess with their teenager because they still are under our roof or my mine are no longer under my roof, but they still have their students under their roof. So they’re not having to self advocate as much or talk to the professors or make their own meals. You know, what would be some indicators that you talk to your families about looking for? That could be like red flags, that maybe they’re not college ready, even though they’re college capable?


Eric Endlich  5:46  

Yeah, you won’t you make a good point, Lisa. And this is often even more true for parents whose kids have either mental health challenges or learning differences. And I’m especially parent myself. So I know how easy it is to kind of jump in and do for your child or advocate for your child or be a little more protective than you would if they didn’t have those challenges. The flip side is if they’ve had experience being away from home, let’s say they’ve gone away for a summer for overnight camp, or they’ve done maybe a pre college program, and they’ve lived on a college campus for a few weeks, and they’ve thrived. And that’s great. If they’ve never spent any time away from you, if they’ve never spent, you know, several nights away from the family, then it’s a lot of time and especially money to invest in your child to say, Okay, we’re sending them off away from home for the very first time to go to college. And let’s just cross our fingers and hope it works out. Having those opportunities before college starts can be really helpful. But I would look at all the different pieces. And you know, of course, we talked about that when we work together, you know, have they learned to do laundry? Have the cook some meals at home? Do they get out in the community and navigate themselves? Occasionally? Can they schedule their own appointments? There’s a lot of different things they can do to sort of test the waters for being independent. If they’re on an IEP or 504 plan, do they attend those meetings and take an active part in those meetings. And if they haven’t taken some of those steps to be more independent, advocated with a teacher in high school when they had a challenge versus having the parents swoop in and do it, then again, there’s opportunity, hopefully, there’s still time to do that, before college starts


Lisa Marker Robbins  7:24  

as a great litmus test. Because it can it really can be confusing. That’s absolutely for sure. And


Eric Endlich  7:31  

I look at the sort of day start at the beginning of the day to the end of the day. Do they get themselves up in the morning? Or did they rely on parents to get them up? Who aren’t going to be there to do that in college, to they get themselves to bed at a reasonable time, you know, shut off their computer or their game and get enough sleep? Do they get appropriate nourishment, hydration exercise, they’ve got some of those self care skills in high school great if the parent is having to stay on top of all those things, remember to turn in your assignment, remember to do X, Y or Z, then there’s still work to be done.


Lisa Marker Robbins  8:05  

It makes me think of we’ve had some past guests INRIA Malcolm Brenner, Julie live caught haymes on and I’ll link to those episodes in the show notes. Because I love the title of Julie’s book, right how to raise an adult like we’re raising them to adult, we’re not raising children, we’re raising them to adult and so she’s also got great suggestions in there for because it can be really hard to not wake them up when they’re going to be late for their job. Letting them fail when they’re under a roof is probably a lot better than letting them fail when they’re out. Exactly.


Eric Endlich  8:37  

Yeah. And as we talked about, you know, a lot, it’s applies to neurotypical students too. It’s not just students with learning differences, but sure that there’s that sort of space giving them that space to fail. And this we see this more and more. And this ties into mental health challenges for today’s youth, that if they haven’t encountered obstacles and been able to fail and problem solve, then they aren’t going to build the resilience that they need. Because they are going to encounter challenges, setbacks and failures in college and in adult life, and they need to be ready for that. Whether that’s not doing as well on the test in college as they used to do in high school, or a breakup of a relationship or not getting into a course that they want or whatever it might be, those things are gonna happen. And this is the time to build resilience.


Lisa Marker Robbins  9:24  

So when you’re working with a family, or one of your teammates says and you start to see like we’ve got a student here who’s college capable, but not college ready, I’m so borrowing this. My home I


Eric Endlich  9:38  

don’t think I invented it, but I’m not credit for


Lisa Marker Robbins  9:41  

going I love it though. So you start to identify like, okay, we’re working with this kid, and the family and the student have thought like what comes after graduation is college, but there’s some strong indicators that this college capable kid is not college ready. What do you suggest like if I have a listener who’s Are you thinking that this right now? And they’re going like, oh, gosh, I feel like we’re not college ready? Do you have suggestions for families then of what to do during high school and even post graduation to kind of bridge that gap so they can be college ready?


Eric Endlich  10:15  

Absolutely. And let me just say a couple of other things to that point two. One is, if your child’s sophomore junior, they’re not gonna be starting college for a while. So they may still mature, you know, kids go through a lot of maturity in their teens, a lot of them do anyways. So some of that may kind of fall into place, don’t assume that what you’re seeing right now is what you’re going to see when they start college,


Lisa Marker Robbins  10:37  

I even feel like a difference between like the time they hit submit on the application. And by the time they get to graduation, absolutely. They’re very different.


Eric Endlich  10:47  

Secondly, I’m not suggesting that all kids need to have 100% of your skills in place, you know, if they oversleep for a class in college, it’s probably not the end of the world, it can make mistakes and fail and learn in college. But ideally, you want to have as many of those skills online or developing as possible before they start college. One way to do that is to buy yourself another year with a gap year, students in general tend to benefit from gap years, you know, there’s increasingly research on this that students who’ve taken gap years get better GPAs are more likely to graduate on time, they have time to figure out what they want to study what they want to do for a career. So that’s one way to do that. And there are college readiness programs that you could go to during gap year to work on those various skills, that will be one approach. Another is, if a child doesn’t want to take a gap year, if they’re really set on starting at the same time that their peers are, which I see a lot of, they can do a College Readiness Summer Program for two or three or more weeks prior to college, whether that’s after junior year, after senior year, you can still nudge those skills along. But you can also work on them while they’re in high school. And of course, that depends on what year they’re in how much time they have left to work on those skills. But let’s say if it’s an executive functions issue, they can hire an executive function coach,


Lisa Marker Robbins  12:05  

or their college readiness programs for these types of students that they could graduate high school as a senior still intend to start college in August. But there’s programs out there that can bridge that gap. So they’re still kind of on the timeline that they imagined, but they’re gonna get resourced to be able to do


Eric Endlich  12:24  

there are programs that you could go to in the summer between senior year and starting college, do other things during that time to help build your skills and maturity, like get a job or do an internship, there’s even some programs you can do during the school year in high school, a few of those. But during the academic year, I know at least one thought that comes to mind often.


Lisa Marker Robbins  12:49  

Well, and some colleges even offer like an early start, right, you graduate, you’re accepted there. But they’ll do it early start over that summer, too.


Eric Endlich  12:59  

Yes. And for colleges that have particularly those that have learning support programs, and it’s a whole other topic, some of those programs will have a special like pre orientation for their students. So they get a head start, and they get at least a few more days of getting familiar with the campus before the mad rush starts. But to your point, I started college in the summer before before everyone else did. And that was really helpful to start at a time when it wasn’t as busy. Just take two courses, instead of you know, four or more courses to kind of a slower start, get used to the campus, find your way around. And then of course, another option that we didn’t touch on is going to community college, where you’ve now broken up the process in you’ve split it into two rather than doing everything at once starting on college level academics and living away from home all at the same time. You’ve moved up to college level courses, but you haven’t moved out yet. And then once you’re good with that, presumably after two years or so then you transfer to a potentially four year college where you’re now living away from home.


Lisa Marker Robbins  14:06  

So you hit on I want to hear more about this. I think our listeners who have students that perhaps are in a 504 or an IEP right now, as a high school student, there are programs out there at the college level that are specifically intended to support those students. And I know that tip of the iceberg about this stuff, but you know, the whole iceberg, so educate our listeners on what some of those options are for your student who is going to benefit from that added support while they’re in college.


Eric Endlich  14:42  

Sure, yeah, I don’t know if I know the whole iceberg at least. I do make it my business to learn as much as I can. And I also maintain the updated list of what I call neurodiversity friendly colleges on the top college consultants website so you can see link


Lisa Marker Robbins  14:58  

to that list of color. is


Eric Endlich  15:01  

a list of colleges that have support programs, neurodiversity clubs, and so on. There’s quite a few colleges that have a specific program designed for students with learning differences. Some of those are even more specific there for students on the autism spectrum. But a number of them are for students with all sorts of learning differences, whether it’s dyslexia, ADHD, a different kind of learning disability, what have you. And they have services colleges typically don’t have so all colleges will have disability accommodations, such as extra time on class, extra time on tests or taking a test in the separate classroom. If you need a quiet space, sitting in the front row, bringing your laptop to class, getting the professor’s notes, getting recording of the lectures, those are accommodations, which in theory you can get at any college. But then there’s services like having a professional or peer mentor, having academic coaching to help you with time management. Those are services that might be part of a learning support program that would not be available at all colleges.


Lisa Marker Robbins  16:04  

Are there’s always an extra fee, sometimes an extra fee. How does that work?


Eric Endlich  16:09  

Most of the time, an extra fee? Not always. Yeah, there are some and that’s that’s one piece of information I put into my list on my website, because I think that’s really important for parents to know, not all lists you find online give you that information. So yeah, some of them are no extra fee, which I think is wonderful. Many of them are an extra fee. And that fee could run into the 1000s of dollars that you need to sort of budget for on top of tuition that you’re already paying for.


Lisa Marker Robbins  16:34  

So this really goes back to I always talk about and healthy college list has, you know, kids minds right away social fit, right? And then of course academic fit Can I get in which relates to your college capable piece, but financial fit and college major fit. So that financial fit that really changes the budget for college, and it needs to be accommodated? Like? Do you have a ballpark range of for service programs that are paid for? Is there an average amount is there a range that they usually fall in,


Eric Endlich  17:11  

I would say an average is a few 1000 a semester on the low end, it could be two to 4000 a year on the higher rent. And it could be substantially more even over 10,000 a year, it’s tends to depend on the number of hours that you’re accessing. And some will have different tiers, you know, if you want two hours of service, so we have four hours of service. So there’s going to be different price for some programs. Another point on the topic of affordability, which is a whole topic in itself, as you well know, is if your child is a client of a state agency, and these have different names in different states, there is a chance of they’re getting some public service benefits. There’s a chance at agency where pay for some of these services. So someone keep in mind, you know, if your child has a documented disability, you might look into what are some of the state agencies that could support them when they’re in college. Some of them like a vocational rehabilitation department sometimes even pay for part of college itself. So definitely something to look into if cost is a concern. And when I talk to parents about this, you know, is your child in any public benefits? Sometimes parents are like what does that mean? What are public benefits that could be vocational rehab, which has different names in different states, Developmental Disabilities departments. In California, it’s called the regional center in Massachusetts DDS different names in different states.


Lisa Marker Robbins  18:39  

As people who work for with families in this space, we’re always saying like, start early, have a plan. You know, my desire is sophomore year, let them be freshmen. But sophomore year, even if it’s just planning what we need to do, or getting our budget in line is important for all families. But as I’m hearing you, and my gosh, if we want to, there’s more to do, there’s more to figure out the budget becomes a little more complicated. So you need even a longer runway, right? You’re not going to just throw this together summer before senior year and be able to make good informed decisions on what programs are going to meet these special needs. Yeah, it’s


Eric Endlich  19:20  

never too late to start working on it. We’re happy to work with families at any point in high school. If you have all of junior year to do that college list and learn about these other things. That’s great. If you start earlier, then you can be working on college readings too, as well as exploring your interest for a student who maybe has defined interests, that gives them a lot of time to pursue those interests, narrowed down what they want to do in college and beyond and kind of established that so that they can demonstrate that to colleges. You’re trying to get into a more competitive nature like computer science or engineering, and you’ve taken the time to engage in activities that demonstrate If that and build your skills, you’re going to be able to make a stronger case than the student who just sort of declares that in senior year but hasn’t really done anything with it.


Lisa Marker Robbins  20:08  

Sometimes I get clients who, and this gets a little sticky, the student is on a 504. IEP, they’re getting support, and they’re benefiting from that support. But when it comes time to like a CT and se t testing and applying to college, they get nervous about disclosing that to the colleges. And so I’m curious what advice you would have for those students?


Eric Endlich  20:34  

Well, that testing is a really important topic in itself, which is separate from disclosing to colleges, if you are, say, entitled to extra time on test at school, and you have that built into your 504. IEP, by all means, why wouldn’t you want to pursue that on the AC T or the LSAT? The LSAT, you know, and you might have extra time on tests, not because of dyslexia or learning disability, but because of anxiety. One of the accommodations you can get on the LSAT is breaks during the test, you know, maybe you’re getting overwhelmed with anxiety during the test, and you need more time. That’s one of the accommodations you can potentially get on the LSAT, for example. So by all means pursue those accommodations on the standardized tests, colleges are not going to see that that is invisible to them. So they won’t know that you had 50% extra time on the AC t right. LSAT,


Lisa Marker Robbins  21:25  

your score report looks just like everybody exactly.


Eric Endlich  21:28  

Yeah, same thing for typically your transcript in general colleges wouldn’t necessarily know unless you choose to disclose it. Now, do you disclose that when you’re applying to colleges? I feel like that’s a very personal individual decision. I don’t make an across the board recommendation for that. You want to look at why are you choosing to disclose it? What are you hoping to gain from that? If there is something on the transcript that needs explaining, then that can be very helpful to disclose it? So and these are situations I’ve actually had, you know, let’s say a student with ADHD, goes on medication, they get diagnosed in the middle of high school, they go on medication, and their grades shoot up. Well, why wouldn’t you want to college to know that, now that I’ve been diagnosed, and now that I found medication that helps me, you can see how great I’m doing. And that’s what you can continue to expect to see in college. So that freshman year where I was struggling, don’t worry about that. That’s ancient history, that would be useful for college to know, or a student who changes schools for a certain reason, and now is doing better a certain school, or maybe somebody who didn’t take a foreign language because they hadn’t a disability waiver in the college was looking at and saying you didn’t take a foreign language, what’s up with that? There’s various reasons why you might want to exceed, explain that and why it would be to your advantage. And then there’s students who choose to talk about it, because they feel like it’s important part of their identity, because they feel like, Hey, I’m on the autism spectrum, I feel like that’s if you want to understand me, that’s a key part of my life experience that I want to share with you, again, totally individual decision, no reason to think would hurt you or help you that it’s gonna move the needle one way or the other. In terms of getting admitted, there isn’t a special typically a special quota for those students in case you’re thinking, Oh, maybe that will help.


Lisa Marker Robbins  23:16  

So honestly, it’s just about fit as being an authentic applicant, and finding your fit, and you want to be where you belong and where you’re going to thrive.


Eric Endlich  23:26  

Exactly. And some students feel like, you know, what, if I disclose that, and you’re going to discriminate against me, because I’ve disclosed it, which by the way is illegal. They feel like you know, maybe that’s not a college for me, if that’s the environment I’m going to be in I shouldn’t be there. I should go somewhere where I’m welcome from the get go, you know, whether it’s admissions students, what have you.


Lisa Marker Robbins  23:45  

There are plenty of those schools that are happily welcome those students. So we’re going to be sure that we linked in our show notes to that list that you have of colleges that offer not just accommodations but services. And thank you for indicating which ones are paid for services because your your right family seemed to take that into account. This has been a fantastic conversation and I know is going to be so helpful to so many families. Eric, thank you for making time to do podcast


Eric Endlich  24:16  

pleasure. Thanks for having me. Okay, top college


Lisa Marker Robbins  24:19  

consultants. We’ll link to it in the show notes as well. And look Eric up if you have a student if you’re a family, who could benefit for some extra support on your college bound during this conversation not only gave tools to help, but I think even more importantly, it gave hope that a successful journey and experience for your neurodiverse teen is possible. If you made it this far. In the episode I’m betting you have a neuro divergent child. So my college bound challenge for your family to complete this week is to help manage expectations for your whole family by openly this guessing how your teens path may look a bit different than their neurotypical peers. As an added bonus, in the show notes, I’m linking to a resource I have on my website that discusses career planning for neurodivergent high school students. I’m commonly asked if my launch Career Clarity course works for students with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and other learning disabilities. The short answer is yes. And the longer answer is on my website, the college bound journey can be stressful for any student. Remember, you don’t have to go at this alone and it is possible for your team to be motivated, clear and confident about their future. Thank you for listening. And if you have just an extra minute or so, your positive rating and review of the podcast helps me helps more students get out of overwhelm.