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Mike Westwood
Noodle Expert Member

March 13, 2020

This article describes a helpful program that Curry provides for students with various learning conditions.

Curry College's Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL) is an academic resource with a very noble and rewarding goal. PAL assists students that are diagnosed with a plethora of conditions, such as language-impairing learning disabilities, executing functioning disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with understanding the course material they are learning and coming up with strategies when academic challenges arise. PAL features a very extensive and elaborate plan for each students' learning needs, similar to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that a Special Education student would have prior to college.

When a Curry College student applies for and is accepted into PAL, they are integrated into mainstream courses and meet with a staff member from PAL either individually or in a group setting. While in the sessions, the students work to improve various skills such as reading comprehension, written language, speaking, listening, organizing and managing time. Curry provides an educational outline for the students working with PAL to maximize and enhance the experience that Curry calls the "Learning Outcomes." This outline includes the students self-advocating for their learning styles and how PAL can best support them throughout their college career, as well as figuring out academic accommodations and making connections through effective communication.

Curry provides each student in PAL with various forms of technology to support their learning differences, such as an IPad, reading software, smartpens and audiobook readers. Curry also has a service called the Assistive Technology Center (AT Center) that students can access for help to utilize the technology if they need it. These technologies are included within the academic accommodation of taking exams where the students can use word processing programs on tests where there may be an essay to write for the purposes of spell-checking and grammar-checking. For students that need help hearing, there is a device called the "Kurzweil 3000," which reads the exam material out loud. As far as other exam accommodations are concerned, students may request for extended time on an exam and to take the exam in a separate location to ensure less distraction.

To increase educational awareness for improved support with students in PAL, Curry has provided speaking opportunities for students to go to elementary schools to discuss PAL with the students and how to cope with their conditions in a college setting. Other schools have hosted Curry at special functions to talk about the transition to college for students with their diagnoses and Curry has worked with guidance counselors and other educational professionals to figure out support systems through conferences and a workshop called, "Helping Students with LD Navigate the College Search."

PAL has helped many Curry College students manage their conditions well enough to become Honors Program members and enter very reputable professions such as law school and becoming doctors. About 20% of the student community at Curry represent PAL and while these students have a bigger challenge than mainstream students, PAL does a commendable job in making sure these students reach their highest potential. It is the student's responsibility to be motivated and ambitious in pursuit of their academic goals, and from the looks of it, they are.

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