LEARNING DISABLED AND ACADEMICALLY UNDERPREPARED COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS: A COMPARISON OF TWO SAMPLES' USE OF AND PERCEIVED NEED FOR SELECTED COLLEGE-PROVIDED SERVICES (COUNSELING, HIGH-RISK)
Learning disabled and academically underprepared students need a broad range of support services to succeed in higher education. The purpose of this study was to compare samples of learning disabled and academically underprepared community college students, both to each other and to a sample of traditional students, in their reported use of and perceived need for selected college-provided support services. The Student Services Use and Needs Survey, Parts I and II, developed specifically for this research, assessed reported use of thirteen services and perceived need for eleven services. Three samples of community college students at one campus of a large, multi-campus, suburban community college completed the questionnaires: (a) fifty learning disabled students randomly selected from among those known to the college, (b) fifty students from randomly selected, developmental English classes, and (c) fifty students from randomly selected, freshman English classes. The results indicated that while the learning disabled students utilized a broad range of college support services, they tended to seek assistance primarily from one campus resource person, the Special Student Services Counselor. Although significantly more learning disabled students than traditional or academically underprepared students utilized eight of thirteen specified services, the learning disabled students perceived a significantly greater need for only three: tutoring in English, help in improving study skills, and help in making special arrangements. The academically underprepared students tended to underutilize the set of services and perceived little need for them. On the basis of study results, it was concluded: (a) the Special Student Services Counselor is critical to the success of learning disabled students at The Community College and he/she should emphasize development of the self-help skills needed by these students when they leave college, and (b) the academically underprepared students need to become more involved with campus sources of assistance. Specific recommendations for the community college studied were (a) preserve small, counselor-to-student ratios in programs serving learning disabled students, (b) designate a specific counselor for academically underprepared students to increase their contact with campus resources, and (c) provide tutoring within academic departments.