Different Students Need a Different Kind of Education
When we see a young adult struggling with a physical disability or medical challenge, it’s easy to empathize and reach for our wallets, hoping to help. But there’s another, very large, group of young adults who are struggling that are often overlooked. Learning disabilities such as ADHD, ADD and other “invisible” challenges are just as real and just as debilitating as the visible, physical ones.
If a student in a wheelchair needed a ramp, the Americans With Disabilities Act would require that her school build one to get her to class. Now imagine if that ramp worked only 26% of the time. That student probably wouldn’t perform well if she only got to class 26% of the time. Nationally, 52% of students graduate from high school. But for students with learning disabilities, the graduation rate is a paltry 26%.
Beacon College in Leesburg has found a way to turn that statistic on its head: It’s graduation rate is an astonishing 83.3%. For students who struggled in high school and found college nearly impossible, it’s methods and results have been a revelation.
“Before coming to beacon College, I was struggling, thinking maybe I wasn’t meant to be in college after all,” says Andrea Cornick, class of 2013. “I couldn’t decide on one major so I chose three, and none was a match for me. I was beginning to lose hope for my future.
“Now that I’ve graduated from Beacon, I hope to work in film directing, film production, film editing and photography, especially on themes like our oceans, the land, animals and astronomy. My focus is on gaining experience that will lead me to success through meaningful contributions in my chosen field.”
Andrea is just one of thousands who’ve been helped over Beacon’s 25-year history. The College has a unique way of teaching students who suffer from ADHD and ADD — one of only two institutions of higher learning in the country that do — and its effectiveness shows not just in its graduation rate, but even more poignantly in the stories of its many successful graduates.
However, the College itself suffers from a disadvantage that it’s working hard to overcome. Despite its unique mission and eye-popping success, when it comes to raising money, Beacon doesn’t have the emotional appeal of those cute puppies on the ASPCA commercials, or the patriotic tug employed by veterans’ organizations. Also, at the age of 25, Beacon doesn’t yet have the army of wealthy and successful
alumni fielded by many traditional schools.
So the college that teaches students differently has had to think differently about its own fundraising strategy. This year, rather than running its usual fall and end-of-year campaigns, Beacon plugged into Giving Tuesday. In advance of the day, Beacon appealed to donors through direct mail and e-mail, asking the to be prepared to give, on giving Tuesday, faculty and student volunteers manned a phone bank to make call. The result was a strong finish for Beacon’s 2015 giving program. Beacon is pursuing a different track into the new year as well; in February they will host a dinner to help raise awareness of this unique resource right here in Central Florida.
For more success stories or to find out who you can help, go to the Beacon College website www.beaconcollege.edu.