Recently, I had the opportunity to travel north to Putney, Vermont, home of Landmark College, accredited by NECHE since 1991. I know I say this over and over, but almost every time I visit one of NECHE’s schools, I come away thinking, “What a unique institution with such a distinct and valuable mission!”
Landmark College certainly fits that bill. Here is a community designed exclusively for students who learn differently, including students with learning disabilities (such as dyslexia), ADHD, autism, or executive function challenges. Quite a number of our member institutions offer special services for neurodiverse learners, but Landmark proudly markets itself as a place that is exclusively for those students.
As President Peter Eden, now in his 12th year at Landmark explains: that brand is both the college’s greatest strength and its greatest challenge, as many students initially prefer a more conventional college, rather than one specifically geared to non-traditional learners. In fact, as President Eden went on to share, almost half of Landmark’s 500 students begin their collegiate experience elsewhere, then come to Landmark to complete their Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree after finding their first experience less than satisfactory.
Landmark’s students hail from almost forty states and a dozen different countries. Clearly, they are drawn to the close-knit community of scholars gathered in this tranquil Vermont town, with a student-to-faculty ratio of six to one. Landmark’s staff and faculty are deeply grounded in their work, and LC’s Institute for Research and Training conducts groundbreaking research on learning disabilities that is integrated both in and out of the classroom. Landmark even offers LD training for educators with webinars, workshops and summer programs.
In addition to its campus in Putney, Landmark has expanded its reach through a dual enrollment program, LC Online, and opened a center on the West Coast. Both residential and online programs are thriving, as students who learn differently find their success here. While Landmark is indeed a different kind of place, it still looks and feels very much like a regular, run-of-the-mill college. Its students and faculty behave like their peers elsewhere (frisbees on the lawn, professors in tweed, students running late into classrooms). Teams of athletes participate in intercollegiate sports and student clubs for every interest abound. And career counselors provide internship opportunities, as well as study abroad options to Landmark students.
Landmark’s promise is to provide a fulfilling college experience for neurodiverse students by giving them a chance to learn differently and succeed brilliantly. Seems like that’s a win/win in every sense.