Academic Advising

student looking at chalkboard

Frequently Asked Questions

The question and answer section that follows is intended for high school students and their parents as well as current students.

  • To potential "Clarkies" and your parents, the questions and responses in this section will answer many of your questions about Clark University's disability support service. We understand that each university's disability support service will weigh heavily in your decision on which college to attend. For this reason, we hope you read the questions and their responses carefully.
  • To current Clark students, the questions and responses in this section will help you decide if you are eligible to receive disability services. We understand that some students may not want to share confidential information when first entering college and may choose to self-identify at some point during their academic career.

If questions remain, we suggest that you write them down. Once you have done this, please call or email the Disability Office. The phone number is (508) 793-7468 and the email address is disabilityoffice@clarku.edu.


Do I have to complete all of Clark's requirements even if my disability hinders performance in, for example, math or a foreign language?

Yes, you do. Clark's University Advisory Board has established a minimum guideline that all students must complete. The minimum requirements include: 32 complete units (one unit is the equivalent of four semester credits per course), the fulfillment of both Critical Thinking requirements (Verbal Expression and Formal Analysis) and all of the Perspectives (Aesthetic, Global, Historical, Language and Culture, Scientific, and Values), and the completion of major requirements. Learn more about Clark's Perspective system.

We recognize that learning disabilities might make a math course, a foreign language, etc. difficult for some to learn. For this reason, students are allowed to take a course Pass/Fail. To receive a passing grade, a student must earn a C- or better when taking a course Pass/Fail. It is not recommended that a student take more than two courses Pass/Fail while at Clark, but this option is good if a student feels a course might be too challenging or hurt their grade point average (GPA).

The two requirements that many students with disabilities are concerned about are the Formal Analysis and Language and Culture requirements. For students who are still weary of taking a foreign language or a math course at the college level, there are other course offerings that fulfill these requirements.

Of course Calculus and Statistics fulfill the formal analysis requirement, but there are other options. Courses in Geography, Economics, Sociology, and Psychology fulfill the Formal Analysis requirement as well. In many cases, a student has to take a Research Methods course as a part of their major, and most of these courses fulfill the Formal Analysis requirement. These research skills courses are still math-based, but may not be as intimidating as a Calculus or Statistics course.

To fulfill the Language and Culture requirement, a student normally takes a foreign language. However, there are courses taught in English that fulfill the Language and Culture Perspective. A student might opt to take one of these courses instead of learning a foreign language.


What are some typical accommodations for students with disabilities in college?

Academic accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis by the coordinator of disability services. The coordinator reads the submitted documentation provided by your qualified practitioner and meets with you in order to make this determination.

Some examples of accommodations for students with disabilities includes:

  • Extended time on exams
    • Based upon the documentation provided to the coordinator, it is possible that extended time on an exam will be a reasonable accommodation. In most cases extended time is double time, depending upon documentation of disability.
    • Whenever possible, exam accommodations of extended time should be administered through the specific academic department. When this is not possible, students and faculty can request assistance from the Disability Office.
  • Computer access for written work and essay exams
    If a student has the accommodation of computer access for exams, computer access should be made available through the specific academic department or the Disability Office. Students are not allowed to use their own laptops for exams without permission from their faculty member.
  • Classroom relocation
    Students with mobility impairments or chronic medical conditions who feel that a class location is not accessible may request classroom relocation. The coordinator of disability services will work with the Registrar's Office to process these requests.
  • Assistance in locating textbooks in an alternate format
    • Clark University has an institutional membership with Book Share. Students who qualify for text in alternate format may request assistance in locating and ordering their textbooks through Book Share.
    • Please review University policies for requesting text in alternate format.
  • Use of tape recorder in classroom
    Quite often students who have had the accommodation of a note taker in high school find that using a tape recorder in class is a more appropriate accommodation. It is always advised that a student inform the faculty member that he/she will be recording the lecture.

What kind of documentation do I need to receive disability support?

Clark University requires that all students who are requesting accommodations submit recent (in most instances recent is considered to be within the past three years) documentation. This documentation is used to determine eligibility for accommodations and services and must clearly state the diagnosed disability, the functional limitations resulting from the disability, and how these limitations impact academic performance.

An individual qualified to diagnose the particular disability must write documentation on professional letterhead. See documentation link on our Web Site.

Individualized Education Plans and 504 Plans are not considered sufficient documentation, but may be included with the necessary documentation.


What can the coordinator of disability services actually do for me?

The coordinator of disability services or the advisor of disability services is available to meet with students who have self-identified and provided disability documentation. These meetings are at the request of the student and can take place as often as once a week, but most students find that they prefer to meet a few times per semester. These meetings can focus on various aspects of student support including:

  • Course Selection
    The coordinator of disability services or the advisor of disability services works as a secondary academic advisor to assist students in course selection.
  • Problem Solving
    The coordinator or the advisor of disability services can assist in problem solving academic concerns. Whether it is an issue in a certain course, or a difficult assignment, our office is more than willing to offer advice and brainstorm with students for possible options. If we are unable to help, we will likely be able to point to someone who will be able to help.
  • Organization and Time Management
    Adjusting to college life can be a lot of fun, but it can also be really difficult. We understand that it is likely that this will be the first time you have been on your "own."  We are available to help you figure out the best way to manage your academic, athletic, and, yes, even your social life.
  • Connecting to resources
    Clark University has many resources available to all students. We will be able to help you access these resources.
  • Self-Advocacy
    College students with learning disabilities who are able to self-advocate and to describe personal strengths and weaknesses possess two of the most helpful skills used to increase successful outcomes.
  • Assistance in accessing text in alternate format
    Some students may need to access their text in an alternate format. In this case, the coordinator will assist students in locating and ordering texts.

When should I self-identify as a student with a disability?

Students are encouraged to self-identify as early as possible. It is suggested that students self-identify as soon as they make their enrollment decision. A summer meeting or telephone conference to review documentation and discuss accommodations with the coordinator of disability services is strongly advised. Once this has been completed, we can begin the process.


What are my rights as a student with a disability?

As a student with a disability, you are entitled to certain rights. The University must respect your rights, which include:

  • Equal access to academics (courses and programs), services, jobs, activities, and other facilities available through the University.
  • Reasonable and appropriate accommodations that the coordinator deems appropriate.
  • The expectation that the documentation you provide will be kept confidential. You have the choice over who can, and who cannot, know about your disability, that is, except where it's required by law.

What constitutes my responsibilities as a student with a disability?

Your first responsibility is to self-identify. If you don't identify as a student with a disability, there is nothing Disability Services can do to assist you.

After you have self-identified, you should provide the coordinator with the appropriate documentation. This documentation should be from an appropriate professional source that verifies the nature of the disability, its functional limitations, and the need for special accommodations.

Before every semester, it is the responsibility of the student to contact the coordinator and request reasonable accommodations. In most cases, we making this request within the first two weeks of school will provide sufficient time to implement accommodations. However, some accommodations require significant advanced notice (text in alternative format, accessibility requests, class notes...)

You should inform the professor about your disability and arrange a meeting with him/her. They will know about your disability if you have given the coordinator permission to release that information. But, a meeting with the professor is still highly encouraged. You could tell the professor about how your disability might affect your performance and also about the necessary accommodations you will need. It's also a good idea to get to know your professors. Clark is a small school, and you'll come to know many professors (especially ones in your major) quite well.

You must request accommodations in a timely manner. For more information please read the accessing accommodations link.


How do I apply to Clark as a student with a disability?

All applicants must meet standard admissions requirements. The Admissions Office reviews all applications including those of students who have chosen to self-identify specific disabilities.

You do not have to self-identify during the admissions process, but the option is there to do so. If you wish to self-identify to Admissions, please send your application to:


Attn: Disabilities Liaison
Clark University
Office of Admissions
950 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01610-1477