Preparing for College

Will Low SAT's Keep Dyslexic Student Out of U of AZ SALT Center?

Question: I have had a documented diagnosis of dyslexia since 4th grade. My SAT's are bad (each one is in the very low 400's), but my GPA is 3.5 in my academic courses (no honors or AP but some of the classes are considered very hard in my school). I am very interested in the University of Arizona's Strategic Alternatives Learning Techniques (“SALT") program but my test scores are well below the UA medians, especially for out-of-state applicants (which I am). Will I get special consideration because I have a learning disability and I'm applying to SALT or am I expected to have the same SAT's as everyone else?

“The Dean" has good news for you … the University of Arizona is test-optional and thus does not require students to submit SAT or ACT scores to be considered for admission. (Note, however, that without standardized test scores, students are not eligible to receive merit scholarships or apply to the Honors College.)


Your GPA is above the average freshman GPA at UA, which will work in your favor at decision time. If you have deficiencies in the high school preparation you'll see here, then UA will expect minimum test scores to compensate. You can, however, explain in your application essay or via an “Additional Information" statement why you didn't fulfill all of these requirements. For example, if--because of your dyslexia diagnosis--you had an Individualized Educational Program that waived the foreign language requirement at your school, you should discuss this in the explanatory statement. Similarly, your personal statement—or a supplementary one—is a good place to discuss other obstacles you've faced in high school (e.g., difficulty with multiple choice tests or with a particular subject or teaching style). David Cillo (the SALT Center's assistant director of admission) also points out that it is important to share information about the support you receive in high school if you have an Individualized Educational Program or if you receive help from tutors or educational consultants outside of school. According to Cillo, “UA practices a Comprehensive Review of application materials, which means that all aspects of an academic record are taken into consideration before an admission decision is made."

Participating in the University of Arizona SALT Center provides an excellent opportunity to succeed in college and to be part of a community of other students who have hurdled some of the same obstacles that you have. As you may already know, the SALT Center has a separate application process that you must complete in addition to your UA application. The SALT Center also offers some need-based scholarships ( to help defray the cost of being enrolled in this comprehensive academic support program.

If you have questions that aren't answered on the SALT Center Web site (, contact David Cillo at 520-626-0646 or email him at .

It sounds like you've done a good job of navigating the academic maze so far, and hopefully you're now steeled to tackle the college admissions process, too. Good luck!

(posted 1/4/2012)