My inquiry is about navigating the process of applying to graduate schools. I'm the only person in my family who's dyslexic to apply to graduate school, so I'm a bit lost when it comes to this procedure. Two questions come to mind. First, is it inappropriate for me to ask schools if I could take an alternative test or an alternative form of evaluation to the GRE because I'm dyslexic? Second, what advice would you give me when considering schools?

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

If you have documentation of your need for accommodations, then you can apply for those accommodations to the College Board for the entrance exams. I do not know that there are "alternative" tests, quite honestly. Here is some information about accommodations on the SAT.

The State of California system just omitted standardized testing for college entrance from its requirements, so I think we may see this wane in the future. It has taken a while, but it seems that admissions offices are finally starting to see that performance on these standardized tests does not measure one's ability to succeed in college or life -- just measures one's ability to be good at taking these kinds of tests. In regard to choosing a college/university, this guide can be quite helpful - The K&W Guide to Colleges Programs & Services for Students With Learning Disabilities and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (College Admissions Guides). It was recently updated. I also think during visits to schools and the school's office for students with disabilities, you can get a feel for whether the school would be a match for you. One of my students went on college tours last year and would come back with very definitive “Nos.” She was able to rank her choices after those visits.

You might find it helpful to read some of these Letters to the Young Dyslexic by Dr. Michael Ryan. Michael is a dear friend, who is dyslexic and obtained a PhD. He has great insight.