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girlofscience's avatar

What is the policy regarding college admission for the mentally retarded?

Asked by girlofscience (7434 points ) October 23rd, 2008

Colleges are certainly interested in diversity. Admissions committees are likely to select a class of people of mixed background – varied geographic locations, varied ethic backgrounds, etc. I believe they may also show favor toward the physically handicapped. But what about the mentally retarded? Does admitting a mentally retarded person add to diversity in the same way? Is it considered discrimination to reject a mentally retarded person because he/she does not have the proper test scores / demonstration of ability? Are mentally retarded people judged on different criteria in order for them to have a better chance at college?

[I ask because of an experience I had yesterday. I am a grad student at a very prestigious university, and I use human subjects in my research, which all come from the undergraduate student subject pool. I had a subject yesterday (who is a student here), and I am almost positive he was mentally retarded. The class of incoming freshman here this year had an average SAT score of 1470, so this isn’t adding up for me.]

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10 Answers

tonedef's avatar

He might have had a disorder like Asperger Syndrome or something, in which he is less socially capable, but just as academically capable.

But as for increasing diversity, this is a tough one. It’s similar to hiring someone for a position that they are unable to fulfill. If an individual is simply not able to attend lectures, learn the material, and satisfy a reasonable standard, then they are wasting their money on tuition.

basp's avatar

it is my understanding that everyone must be accepted using thecsame criteria so discrimination would not be a factor if the mentally challenged person was given the same opportunity as everyone else to meet the criteria.

tonedef's avatar

But, @basp, sometimes, special accomodations must be provided for people. That’s why every business in the country must have a ramp and elevators in it. I think girlofscience was extrapolating this requirement for “accessibility” to higher education.

basp's avatar

yes,special accomodations are made for disabled students once they have been admitted. And, there are accomodations made for admission testing too. But the accomodations are made so that the person can take the test or attend classes. The accomodations are not to assist the person in getting the test answers correct. I’m probably not being very clear… An example would be that a blind student may receive information in braielle or they may have someone who walks them to class but, the assistance received does not mean they will pass a test or get a good grade in a class, they have to do that by themself.

nikipedia's avatar

1470 out of 2400 or did you rescale?

girlofscience's avatar

@nikipedia: 1470/1600! Because most people still think in those terms.

janbb's avatar

I work at a community college and I believe the policy here is that there is open admission with testing required for basic skills. A student who does not pass the basic skills tests (in reading and math) is required to take remedial courses in those areas until they acquire those skills. Then he or she can take courses for credit toward a degree. There is an office that provides assistance to learning or otherwise disabled students. Thus, I believe any student could attend college here but might not matriculate if not able to complete the remediation.

I would imagine this is the policy at many community colleges or open universities. Since most colleges and univsersities have closed admissions with stated competency requirements, I assume they are within their rights to deny admission to applicants who cannot “do the job.”

girlofscience's avatar

@janbb: Interesting. I know there are some four-year universities who automatically accept people as juniors who have a B average from their first two years of community college.

So I suppose the best option for a mentally retarded person would be to attend community college for two years, do very well, and then complete years 3 and 4 at a 4-year university with that type of program.

janbb's avatar

I would think that would be the best option, although I wouldn’t imagine a person with much mental impairment would even be able to get the 2 year degree. However, students with certain learning disabilities have been able to succeed with the remediation and extra support they are able to get at a community college and then go on to a four year for their last two years.

henry13's avatar

I work at a community college and have had mentally handicapped (low IQ) students in my classes. This does absolutely NO GOOD to the student or the college. Well-meaning instructors lower standards in their developmental course to try to accommodate this student – yes that is what I found. Then they send them to my college-level course and I get to break their heart. This is absolute nonsense – such students should be receiving training appropriate to their skill set. You have to remember that a liberal arts 2-yr degree is generally accepted as the first two years at a 4-yr college. We hurt both the student and the reputation of the college by accepting such students for completion of a 2-yr transferable degree.

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