For a student with a learning disability or deficits in executive function, this question requires careful consideration. The first indicator that a 4-year program may not be the first option is poor grades in English, Math, History or Science.
In a 4-year college, the student will be taking these classes all over again, with papers and majors projects in every class. If you, or a tutor, have been the driving force in helping the student to study for tests, write papers, and remember to turn in work in high school, his ability to independently handle that higher level of achievement is questionable. What are his ACT and SAT scores? You can go online to www.ACT.org or to www.collegeboard.org and check the percentile ranks for your student’s scores to see how they compare to those of his peers.
If the student is determined to attend a 4-year college, you could make a contract with her. I suggest you hope for the best and plan for the worst. Agree to pay for tuition, dependent on her attaining a certain grade point average (maybe a 2.5). You may find that your student is highly motivated and takes advantage of extra tutoring support and help sessions at the University. If that GPA is not maintained for a semester, reconsider the options. You might discover that your student is not willing to put forth the effort in college and is too distracted by the social life. Now what?
Consider a 1- or 2-year Associate degree program. There are public technical colleges in every state. (See my next blog on Alternative Paths to Success.) I know that many students reject this option immediately because their friends say they are going to UC. Visit one of the technical colleges, and talk to an admissions counselor. Career counseling is available, as is tutoring and support for students with disabilities. If your student won’t consider that option, the next step is for him to find a job. Sometimes after experiencing the mundane world of work your child recognizes that to move ahead he will need some type of post–secondary training. Sometimes his employer will help pay for additional education!