Exceptional students receive recognition from faculty, student leaders

Molly McGoughey, Scott Voos, and Lindsay Kubina speak at a panel for Exceptional Students in Higher Education in the College of Business Building at Kansas State, in Manhattan, Kan, on Nov. 2, 2017. (Photo by Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

Student leaders, faculty and staff came together Thursday to discuss exceptional students — students who are admitted to universities by exception — in higher education.

“The ‘exceptional student’ term is more commonly used in the K-12 system, but typically refers to students who self-identify with having some type of a disability,” Molly McGaughey, director of undergraduate admissions, said.

Not all exceptional students are recognized with having a disability. The term also applies to students who have high school GPAs or standardized test scores that do not quite meet the requirement for admission to Kansas State. These students may be accepted to the university after a holistic review.

“Holistic reviews are a small percentage of students on campus,” said Lindsay Kubina, access advisor and outreach coordinator at the Student Access Center.

Holistic reviews require students to submit personal statements and recommendation letters for review by a panel. This way, students can be admitted by exception.

Exceptional students make up a small percentage of students on campus. Some of them have disabilities like ADHD or are on the autism spectrum.

“They’re here; I’m going to acknowledge the fact we have a very lively campus,” said Scott Voos, managing director and academic coach for the Academic Transition Program. “It is our commitment and responsibility to work with all students and give them the best experience we can.”

McGaughey said students, exceptional and otherwise, with mental health issues and autism spectrum disorders are becoming more common.

“The trend now is seeing students with mental health issues and on the autism spectrum,” McGaughey said. “I think we will start seeing more and more students with mental health issues in the years to come.”

Voos said exceptional students bring value to campus.

“In my short time [of] interaction with students, my awareness has risen,” Voos said. “Bringing these phenomenons to life and bursting those stereotypes surrounded by mental health, I’ve had a wonderful experience working with students and seeing their unique experiences.”

Students also attended the event.

“I have an increased idea of what the K-State Family is all about,” Abby Ridder, freshman in secondary education, said. “I’m shocked by how much effort is put into not just academic success, but student success.”