St. Louis Park, Minn. (Jan. 14, 2014) — As many as one in four first-year college students in Minnesota don’t make it back for their sophomore year, national studies show.
The new pace and academics not only overwhelms these freshmen but destroys budding futures, especially for a student with a learning disability or attention disorder say leaders of Groves Academy in St. Louis Park. They should know–Groves is a unique Minnesota 1-12 school designed for students with learning and attention disorders.
Today Groves is working to expand its outreach of the Groves Post-Secondary Program (GPS), which launched in 2009. The program was created to help high school graduates and young adults, who may need a bridge to success.
“We’re not sure what the numbers are, how many college students are out there with a learning disability or attention disorder. But we do know our own graduates and many others can use a helping hand to take the next big step to a college education,” said John Alexander, Head of School for Groves Academy. “And then we help them navigate it from there.”
Alexander is a national expert and Minnesota leader in reading reform with a Master of Education from Harvard University specializing in reading and language disabilities. He says GPS’s staff members, who specialize in learning disabilities, use a holistic approach to provide year-round support for young adults, mostly between the ages of 18 to 25. The program is tailored to individual needs, providing everything from study and time management skills to life planning–helping students plot a successful course to school, a career and adulthood.
In the past four years, the Groves Post-Secondary Program has served seventy students. The program helped nearly fifty of those move successfully through two-year college programs at institutions such as Normandale Community College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College and Dunwoody College of Technology; then continue their college education at Cornell University, Rhode Island University, Vermont University, Hamline University, Metro State University, Southwest Minnesota State University and the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and Stout.
Eighteen students also gained pre-work training through the program’s own student-run business called GPS Quality Products, designed to give students valuable job skills and a true understanding of what it takes to be successful at work.
College can be scary
“After high school, it’s a real scary feeling,” said Mary Strot, a Twin Cities mom who admits she worried about her daughter Molly’s future. When Molly graduated from a special education program at a local high school, she decided she wanted to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, a 10-week long program at a community college. “We knew she couldn’t go through the program without the extra support and tools,” said Mary. She says the Groves staff worked with Molly every day after school to help her study the material, tackle the tests and manage her study time. “A career as a nursing assistant seems like it’s just her calling, seems like a perfect fit for her,” said Mary about her now 22-year-old daughter. “The Groves Post-Secondary Program was just a great experience and now we’ve got a CNA in the family.”
“The staff’s in close contact with the kids. They’re more than tutors, they’re mentors,” said Karen, another Twin Cities mom whose son, Patrick, worked with GPS’s staff for four years after high school. Patrick has struggled with a life-long learning disability and is ADHD. Patrick “graduated” from the GPS program, and is finishing his college coursework to become a graphics and web designer. “The study habits he learned have stuck with him. They did a good job,” she said.