In 1979, the Alternative Learners Project (ALP) was founded as the first program of its kind in Pennsylvania to provide support to students with learning disabilities. Since that time, the ALP has focused on helping students with all types of disabilities to succeed in college. With a dedicated Alternative Learning Manager, a professional staff of three highly-qualified full-time program coordinators, two testing center coordinators, and an abundance of cooperation and support from an excellent faculty and administration, the ALP serves approximately 60 students with disabilities per year.
Students who are served by the ALP participate in regular university classes - the same courses all MU students take. There are no special courses, special sections, or special teachers. Our majors dictate which courses and experiences students must complete. While students with disabilities must meet the same requirements as all other students, it is often suggested that they take a carefully-selected, reduced credit load (12-15 credits) each semester. Therefore, it is likely that participants in ALP will spend more than the standard eight semesters earning a degree. (Note: Some majors may require a minimum of 15 or more credits).
The ALP helps students to successfully complete their course requirements by offering:
First Year ALP students are included with a number of other first-year students in the Bridge Program, which traditionally operates for five days, Monday through Friday, the week prior to the official start of Fall semester. A variety of techniques are presented by ALP Coordinators and members of the Student Success Center (SAC) Staff to aid students in attaining their educational goals.
Bridge affords students the opportunity to become acquainted with in-coming peers as a means of helping to allay some of the usual anxieties associated with being in a new environment. ALP students are integrated with other freshmen from the University at-large.
All incoming ALP students participate in the Learning Strategies Course during Bridge and for the first eight weeks of the fall semester of their freshmen year. The curriculum for Learning Strategies was developed by Kansas University's Center for Research in Learning, and is designed to teach students to more efficiently acquire, store, and express information. The instruction focuses on making the students more active learners by teaching them how to learn and how to use what they have learned to solve problems and be successful.
Program of Accommodations (POA) (click to view document)
Prior to the beginning of each semester, the ALP staff works with students to establish their POA, which includes a list of courses to be taken, the names of the professors, and a list of accommodations the students should use during the semester. Accommodations, such as Kurzweil Personal Reader, word-processors, scanners, note-sharing services, and alternative test-taking procedures allow students to work around their disabilities. The services listed on a student's POA are intended to support each individual's areas of need. However, the accommodations do not minimize the necessity for ALP students to master the essential academic competencies required of all students. Curriculum requirements in students' majors are not otherwise adjusted.
With the student's approval, the Program Coordinator (PC) shares the POA (and no other information) with affected members of the faculty and the student's advisor. In doing so, the ALP notifies professors of the students served by the Program (if any are in their classes) and which accommodations will be needed by the students. Students do not have to ask faculty for anything; ALP staff do all of the arranging. Moreover, we do not ask faculty to teach or test differently; we just ask them to allow us to provide the accommodations.
Supplemental services for ALP students also include:
Each student served by the ALP is assigned a program coordinator, an ALP staff member who coordinates the delivery of the program of accommodations. The program coordinators (PCs), with the advance permission of students, arrange all accommodations. In addition, the PC meets individually with students according to the following schedule to make sure that the accommodations are working:
As students progress, they become more personally responsible for dealing with faculty members, However, ALP staff and support are available whenever needed throughout the students' years at Misericordia University.
In addition to the supports provided by the ALP, Misericordia University offers a wide variety of special services that may be accessed by ALP students. Counseling, peer and on-line tutoring, writing center services, and general and specialized career programs are also available.
An Example of Participation in ALP
Sam is a 19 year-old Misericordia second semester freshman who is majoring in social work. His disability is in the area of reading. The ALP introduced him to several leaning strategies during the Fall semester that made him more effective and efficient, and his POA includes:
Sam will take a reduced caseload of 12 credits this semester, and all forecasts suggest that he will be a great social worker.
Each student interested in applying for admission to ALP should submit the following documents to the ALP Manager:
(a). Applicants with learning disabilities should submit the results of recent (no more than two years old) tests of:
(b). Students with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder need to provide the following documentation:
(c). Students with a sensory, physical, or psychological disability must meet the following documentation standards:
Review of Documentation
The ALP Manager will review the aforementioned information along with the standard admission information. If it is determined that an individual is a suitable applicant, he/she will be invited for an on-campus 60 to 90 minute interview. The interview will be an opportunity for gathering and sharing information.
Students who are already enrolled at Misericordia may apply for the services of the ALP by contacting the ALP Manager, (570)674-8126.
If a student has received services at another post-secondary institution, interim ALP services may be provided while the final disability documentation is being processed. A copy of the student's most recent accommodation plan would be helpful. Services will be discontinued if appropriate documentation is not provided with 45 calendar days of the initial contact with ALP.
Misericordia University's Alternative Learners Project is designed to provide support to students with disabilities that extends beyond those accommodations required under the University's Section 504 program. ALP students pay a fee each semester for the program as follows:
Students may be eligible for financial assistance, grants, work study, and loans. They are welcome to contact Misericordia University's Financial Aid Office at (570)674-6280.
You can write, call, or e-mail us:
Alternative Learners Project Manager
301 Lake Street
Dallas, PA 18612-1090
We look forward to hearing from you!
You might also consider:
Student Success Center/Office for Students with Disabilities