If a student has not identified as having a disability
Sometimes a student is struggling in some way that is not readily explainable. The key concept when trying to assist students who are struggling in some way is to encourage them to take some sort of constructive action.
Reasons for struggles can range from lack of study skills (not uncommon among students at a school with such competitive admissions standards), unsettling life circumstances, certain disabilities that affect the efficiency or method of learning, cultural dissonance with respect to the Dartmouth experience, selected poor academic skills, etc. These things are difficult to discern, and you should not feel like you must land on one perfect referral.
For example, if a student seems possibly depressed, depression could be the main reason for academic difficulties [and, thus, referral to The Counseling Center at Dick's House would be the "perfect" referral if the student is ready for it] or it could result from the experience and frustration of – unknown to the student, perhaps – poor study skills or a so-called "learning disability." It could stem from many other things as well.
A key is to discuss the matter enough to find out what sort of resource appeals to the student, something that will have the best chance of the student following up! Don't worry too much about whether that turns out the be the perfect place — campus resources like The Counseling Center, the Academic Skills Center, Undergraduate Deans, and OPAL are quite used to – and good at – cross-referring and ultimately getting the student matched with the right resources.
If a student reports struggling with academics in a way that belies effort, knowledge, and ability, there are disabilities that fit this pattern. If a student is open to exploring that with us, referral to SAS is appropriate. If not, refer to either of both of ASC and The Counseling Center.
Other tell-tale circumstances that SAS could help a student explore: poor test performance, even when well-prepared and not nervous; inability to focus or sustain attention, even when interested in the subject at hand; poor performance in "drill" for a foreign language class; or overall history of difficulty when trying to learn a foreign language.
Not all students are ready to consider the possibility that SAS may be a good resource for them.
Avoid any approach that might suggest you assume, or have in some way predetermined, that a student has a disability.
Always feel free to contact SAS to discuss individual decisions about referrals. Email Alicia Brandon, or call 646-9900.