Getting Around Atlanta Schools

Recently we were able to visit some colleges in Atlanta.  There are 23 colleges and universities in Atlanta so learning how to get around Atlanta was a fun adventure.  We flew into Atlanta and did not have a car so we decided to try all the different ways of getting around the city.

Huge Escalator from MARTAFirst stop was the MARTA (click to see maps and schedules).  This was very easy to use, the map wasn’t hard to read.  The easiest part was that the airport is last stop so both the red and yellow lines go in the same direction and to the same stations for several stops.  It is also incredibly inexpensive: $2.50 each trip including up to 4 transfers. I had no problems with the MARTA except that it was closed on Sunday.  According to the website this isn’t normal, but it was the situation while we were there.  We found that if you wanted to go somewhere that the MARTA went to it was great, but it does not cover the entire city.  I did not get a picture of the train but here is the very long elevator leaving the station closest to our hotel.

College exploration on scooterWhile touring Georgia Tech I decided to take a break from walking and try out the electric scooters!  These scooters littered the streets of Atlanta.  In order to use one you need to download the app, attach payment and scan the scooter.  It took me a few minutes to set it up, but it wasn’t bad.  Once it’s set up it’s very quick, so subsequent trips are easy.  The rules are that you need to wear a helmet, go in bike lanes when available, and park it safely (the app gives you clear guidelines).  I can tell you that these rules are often not followed, but I am reporting what the app tells you.  The scooter really moves.  I was impressed with the speed and the amount of control that I had while driving.  Stoppping needs a little extra time so make sure you give yourself that.  After a bit of experimenting I moved on and enjoyed the gorgeous campus.

In addition we did a LOT of walking.  The city is very walkable with decent sidewalks and crosswalks.  I enjoyed seeing the city as I walked.  There were also a lot of bike lanes, and it wasn’t unusual to see bikers out and about.

On Sunday we didn’t have the ability to take the MARTA because it was closed so we used Uber to get to the airport. Living near DC I’ve used Uber often before, but it was good to see that there were several cars running when we were ready to go to the airport. Lyft is also readily available in Atlanta.

It was a great trip and fun to explore Atlanta and some of the different Universities and colleges in the area.

Class of 2020!

Ready, set, action!!!
Hi there Class of 2020!  Are you ready for the final push to get ready for college?  It’s almost application time.  During the summer is a great time to get a jump start on your applications, especially those essay prompts!

The Common Application has their essay prompts here.  Over 800 schools in the US take the common app including all 8 Ivy Schools (these schools also have supplemental essay prompts that aren’t released for this year yet) and many VA universities.  The University of Virginia uses the common app but also has 2 half page essays specifically for UVA, one is specific to the college you are applying to within the University. UVA also accepts the Coalition Application (see below).  George Mason uses the Common App unless you are interested in their Korea program or are only applying to George Mason, then you can use their exclusive application.  More information is available here.

The Coalition Application essay prompts can be found here. The Coalition Application is used by 140 colleges and universities including The College of William and Mary (who also accepts the common app) and Virginia Tech.

The Universal Application is the third option.  This is accepted at fewer colleges but if the college(s) you are applying to accepts it as an option you may want to compare the applications and see if there is a format that is more comfortable for you.  The essay prompts for the Universal Application can be found here.

Summer is a great time to start brainstorming and writing some rough drafts of those college essays!  This is your opportunity to tell the colleges who you are and how you have been able to learn and grow through your unique experiences!

Will my child’s IEP follow them to college?

If you’re like most parents with a child with a 504 or IEP, you’ve spent countless hours advocating for your child to ensure they’ll succeed.  Like many, I’m sure you’re also worried about how they’ll continue to find that success in college without you advocating for them.  With support, your student can take over the role and learn how to be their own advocate, especially since their IEP or 504 plan won’t follow them to college.

While there won’t be an annual IEP meeting, case managers, or parent communication (YIKES!), there is still support for students who register as a student with a disability and provide the required documentation.  Under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, colleges are required to provide equal access to education for all students.  This may look different at different colleges.

Many colleges will have a disability services office that handles the student’s request for support.  Unlike a case manager, who is in close contact with the student and the parents, a representative from the office will write a letter stating what reasonable accommodations the school can provide.  This letter is given to the student’s professors.  From there, the student will take over, advocating for his/her own needs and making sure the accommodations are both met and making a positive difference in their college experience.

In addition to the disability services office, some schools go above and beyond to help their students succeed.  Some additional services do come with a fee, but some are included with tuition.  These helpful options range from assistive technology labs to tutoring to frequent progress reports from professors.  Several schools also focus on whole student growth with social skills and problem solving support.

Best Value Schools recently compiled a list of 20 colleges that offer the most value while catering to students with learning disabilities.  The included schools not only have higher percentages of students with disabilities, they have more complete programs in place to assist these students in their college journey.  However, if you and your child have your sights set on a state school, don’t feel like they’re out of reach.

One state school that offers a high-level of support to students with disabilities is the University of Arizona with their on-campus SALT Center.  What once started with a handful of students in the basement of a building to a large, 3-story building that houses the SALT (Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques) Center, the program provides support to hundreds of students a year.  Within the center, students can meet with tutors, access psychological services, and help develop their own individualized learning plans.  Below is a video from one of UA’s students who uses the SALT Center to help her find success in college.

As you and your student map out their future plans, encourage them to be an active part of the process.  Help them learn what their strengths and weaknesses are.  And most importantly, teach them how to advocate for themselves.  With the supports in place that they need, they will succeed in their future educational endeavors.

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