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Alternative Learners Program

In 1979, the Alternative Learners Program (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 professional staff that includes highly-qualified full-time program coordinators, two testing center coordinators, and an abundance of cooperation and support from an excellent faculty and administration.

ALP Services

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.

The ALP helps students to successfully complete their course requirements by offering:

  • Participation in the BRIDGE Program, which provides incoming first-year ALP students the opportunity to arrive on campus early (one week prior to the start of the fall semester) and features a series of assessments and workshops designed to assist students in identifying both strengths and needs in their learning styles.
  • Training in the use of the Learning Strategies a course designed to help students with disabilities become more effective and efficient learners through the development of academic skills and study methods.
  • An individualized Program of Accommodations (POA), an array of strategies and supports that students can use to bypass challenges produced by their disabilities.
  • Support by a staff of master-level prepared Program Coordinators.

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 Text to Speech software, 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:

  • Case management by academic specialists
  • Writing support including assistance with editing and transcription
  • Planning and selecting courses in collaboration with department advisors
  • Communicating with faculty and administration
  • Dedicated study room with access to technology
  • Time management support

Program Coordinators

Each student served by the ALP is assigned a program coordinator (PC), an ALP staff member who manages the delivery of the program of accommodations. The PC, with the advance permission of students, arranges all accommodations. In addition, the PC meets individually with students according to the following schedule to make sure that the accommodations are working:

  • First year freshmen: two hours per week
  • Second semester freshmen and all upperclassmen: one hour per week

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.

For more Information about ALP, please contact:

Kristen Ricardo
Assistant Director, Student Success Center/Office for Students with Disabilities
Misericordia University
Student Success Center
301 Lake Street
Dallas, PA 18612-1090
Tel: (570) 674-6205
Fax: (570) 674-3026