Landmark College (visited 4/17/14)
Landmark, located in Putney, VT, (in the southwest near the NY and MA borders) works exclusively with LD, ADD/ADHD, or ASD students who are ready to live in a residential setting. Started in the mid-80s, this was a two year school until last year, and they’re now accredited for a BA program in Liberal Studies. Now that they’re accredited as a Bachelors granting institution, they’re hoping to expand this.
They have three basic entry points. The first is a traditional college-credit track for students ready to enter directly into credit-bearing college classes. The second is a Partial-Credit track; students can enroll in some traditional college classes while simultaneously taking some non-credit classes to booster skills in specific areas. Finally, they have non-credit track for those who need to develop skills in certain areas to eventually move into the credit track. Admissions is rolling; in addition to the application and 1 letter of rec, they need to interview (which can be over skype or phone, but they prefer in person if possible) and to provide psycho-ed testing done within three years (older than that isn’t really reflective of who they are now). They’ll look at the SAT/ACT if they have it but this isn’t required. The point is to make sure that can help the student and that it’s a good match both ways.
Matt Hart, one of the Admissions Reps, is an alumnus. “I learned what my own learning style was, not how to get around things anymore. It’s about owning how you learn and having that independence, not about a diagnosis and how you need to ‘manage it’”
Students work with Advisors on a weekly basis. Advisors work in partnership with the student and professors to make sure that the student understands the diagnosis, work on specific strategies that work for students (and not just trying the same old things that maybe aren’t as effective), making sure that students are utilizing supports like the Drake Center (an Academic Support Center run by faculty, open until 9:30pm) and office hours. The Advisor uses the cognitive testing for much more than just helping the student get accommodations. They use it to help the student be successful in each area. Matt said, “Our job is to bolster them to the point where they don’t need us. It’s like learning to ride a bike. The advisor acts as training weeks, then to support and set students upright when they start to fall, to coach them, etc. The point is to get you riding the bike on your own.” Students do move on to other colleges very successfully (and graduate and a much higher rate than students with LD issues do otherwise), or they move into careers.
Regular Financial Aid comes into play here; they have merit scholarships, and families only need to fill out the FAFSA to be considered for need-based aid. However, there are two unique ways for families to get assistance in paying for Landmark. Because of the specific services being offered, they can access Vocational Rehabilitation services from home state (and should contact that department directly for state-specific information), and parents can also get a Medical Tax deduction off their taxes each year.
The two students who spoke to us were wonderful; one was from Philadelphia; the other was from San Diego. Other than being far from home (and the weather!), they think this is absolutely the best place. “Feeling understood and that no one was getting impatient with me was a big deal!” The girl is graduating early with her AA and is moving onto the University of Denver; “I know I’m ready!” She did two study abroad programs (Travel Writing in the UK and Irish History in Ireland), two winter terms, and a summer. She said that this is the first time she’s been academically successfully, and she didn’t want to stop. “I probably could have been ok at another school, but I wouldn’t have done well or felt good about myself.”
In addition to the college programs, they have high school programs for rising juniors and seniors and a visiting-college program where students can take a class or two. Their Transitions-to-College program allows incoming Landmark students to learn what the expectations are, their rights and responsibilities, and how to fit into college life. They offer two tracks. One is a 3 ½ week program for students on the Spectrum because change is harder for them. The other is a “traditional track” for kids who just need academic or social support during the move to college. They all take a class called Narrowing the Gap in which they talk about their diagnosis and what that means, a writing class, and a general elective that they choose. Half their time is spent in classes, and half is a fun summer experience.