Getting into College with Chronic Migraines

Our local community college will not allow my son to enroll because he has not taken the ACT. He has not taken the ACT because he has chronic migraines, anxiety, and other disabilities that cause additional pain and make taking long tests like the ACT, that cover a wide range of material, extremely difficult and do not adequately show his college readiness.

I think that my son has proven his ability to do college level work by passing four college level CLEP tests. He is almost ready to take several more. Some of the benefits of this type of test is that my son can easily reschedule the test if he has a migraine, he can study for these subject tests using easily accessible online lessons, and the tests are not as long so that my son can finish before the pain gets too distracting. It is even possible now to get an online degree using mostly CLEP testing, but my son wants to go to a brick and mortar school and I think he should have that right.

When we asked for an exception to the ACT requirement for college admission, we were told by the community college admissions staff that the Board of Regents said that consistent with previous policy exception requests, they have not supported “using a disability as a justification to circumvent policy.” Taking the ACT is the only way a homeschooled student with disabilities can get into a brick and mortar college in our state. It does not matter that my son has certificates of completion for online classes in all required subjects recommended by our state department of education for college readiness. Nothing matters but the ACT score. Public schooled students in our state are not required to submit ACT scores.

We were told that my son can get accommodations for the ACT, but I don’t know how to get them to understand that extra time on the test is not enough for certain disabilities. How can they possibly accommodate and level the playing field for someone with less time to study due to fatigue and pain issues, as well as having to deal with fatigue and pain during the test? I think a lot of people, including people who make education policies, don’t understand how a migraine attack affects learning and testing and I am looking for help to help them understand.

Self-paced learning and testing is what made it possible for my son to learn at a college level and pass CLEP tests. He has homeschooled since finishing kindergarten because he could not get an appropriate education at our local public school. A teacher at the elementary school suggested homeschooling because he could read at a 5th grade level at age 5 but could not color in the lines well because of his disabilities. He is ready to go to college and to learn around other students. This is something he has always looked forward to but because of policies that discriminate against homeschooled students with disabilities, he is not being allowed to enroll.

We are talking to a state senator about getting our state’s regents for higher education to consider changing college admission policies to allow other methods for proving college readiness, such as CLEP tests. According to collegedata.com, some colleges have become test optional because there are factors other than test scores that are stronger predictors of a student’s potential to succeed.

My son has shown a desire and ability to learn at a college level, as well as a willingness to work around pain issues, often giving up fun activities that other students get to do because of migraines and other invisible disabilities. My son should not have to give up his education goals because of our state’s higher education policies. We are not “using a disability as a justification to circumvent policy.”

People are more important than policies. Some of us need an exception to policies to prove what we can do. People with disabilities like migraines would benefit from a change to our one-size-fits-all college admission policies.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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