Introduction to Landmark College (VT)
I have described my visit to Landmark College as an introduction rather than a profile or first impressions, because this college specializes in educating students who learn differently, including those with a learning disability (such as dyslexia), ADHD, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Admittedly, I have not advised such students, nor have I worked with their parents. However, the college’s admissions team, administration and faculty did an excellent job in educating me during a Professional Visit.
Landmark is more than just a small college with a campus near the Vermont/New Hampshire border. It offers online education to high school students, transitional “bridge programs” for recent high school graduates, a semester exchange program, training for academics and professionals who work with similar students at other colleges as well as Associates and Bachelors degrees. The more common path is to pursue an Associates degree, or a transitional program, then move on to a more conventional four-year college. The more common first-year student on campus has had a prior experience at another two or four-year college before arriving at Landmark.
I gathered more information than I could possibly summarize in a profile, not only from the Professional Visit, but also from the screening of a documentary movie Normal Isn’t Real, produced by filmmaker Krys Kornmeier. Krys’ film profiles four young men and women, one a Landmark College graduate, who were diagnosed with learning difficulties. Three earned bachelors degrees from more conventional colleges, including the Landmark graduate, sculptor and artist David Cole; the other, Nicole Vaiani, has become a very successful colorist and hair stylist.
Had I not seen the film and asked questions during the talk afterwards, I would have been far less prepared to understand all of the information presented over the next two days. I understand what it means to be left out of social situations in a K-12 setting. I was for many years of that education within a single public school system. However, I could not imagine what it would have been like if I also had a learning difficulty until I saw Normal Isn’t Real and took this college visit.
Landmark’s most important contribution to a student’s education, in my view, are a Perspectives on Learning course that teaches how to learn, including organizational and study habits that are essential to complete college-level courses, and teaching “social pragmatics” within student life. That’s a subject that I wish all high schools, let alone colleges, would teach all students—to learn which behaviors, comments, gestures and “jokes” are acceptable, or more important, unacceptable in daily interactions.
This visit left me with questions. I have attempted to answer these in my introduction attached.
- Is it better to be a transitional student or Associates degree candidate than to stay four years to pursue a Bachelor’s degree?
- Do the learning tools and methods work?
- Is this the right campus setting for the students who live on campus?
- Can Landmark further reduce its costs towards a degree?
- Will Landmark College graduates find work after college?
The Landmark experience will be quite expensive for many families. I was a parent who could afford the total costs of a Landmark education, today in excess of $70,000, I would ask an educational psychologist who understands the college’s educational model to help in the college search, to evaluate my child in the same way as the college admissions office to see if there is an educational fit. I would also consult a financial planner. Families who send their children to Landmark may find out that there are medical tax benefits to choosing this school over others. Families might also want to contact their state vocational rehabilitation offices who can/will offer financial assistance and/or technological materials to aid in success.
No parent should “drop off” their child at Landmark, or any other college, without doing thorough research and maintaining a dialogue with the school after their child is enrolled.
I would like to thank my friend, and fellow admissions advisor, Jodi Rosenshein Atkin, for reviewing this introduction. Based in the Rochester NY area, Jodi has a BA and MA in Psychology from the University of Rochester as well as over 20 years in clinical and educational settings, including considerable experience with students who learn differently. To learn more about the unique concerns and needs for these students, contact Jodi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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