The Achieve Program
For Students With Learning Differences

Achieve Program

The Achieve Program

The Achieve Program provides specialized services to students with learning differences. At Villa, we look at students’ needs individually, and develop a plan to help ease their transition into college. Through the Achieve Program, students can build their confidence as they develop the skills that are critical for achieving academic and social successes at the collegiate level and beyond.

Achieve Program Goals

    • Provide support to students with learning differences that goes above and beyond what is required by law
    • Assist students with learning differences in developing executive functioning, self-advocacy, and goal-setting skills
    • Support students with learning differences make a successful transition from high school to college, and from college to their career
    • Increase students’ self-confidence in their academic, personal, and professional lives
    • Increase retention and graduation rates of students with learning differences
    • Build on students’ strengths to overcome challenges

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Assistive Technology

Villa’s Achieve Program trains its students to master assistive technology that help ease the transition from the high school classroom to the college classroom. Achieve students have unlimited access to Microsoft dictate and read aloud, Dragon Naturally Speaking Speech Recognition Software and Livescribe Pens and Notebooks, and other tools they’ll need to complete classwork and prepare for exams. Use of these tools can increase students’ self-confidence in their academic, personal, and professional lives.

Commonly Addressed Challenges

All colleges and universities are required to provide accommodations to students with disabilities, including learning disabilities. These services, which are free of charge to students, are meant to help students with documented learning disabilities like ADHD, dyslexia, dyscalculia, autism spectrum disorder, and other disabilities have a level academic playing field with their peers. The Achieve Program is a fee-based program that goes above and beyond what is required by law, and also works with students who struggle with common obstacles, like procrastination, time management and prioritization.

Proven Solutions

In addition to helping students find their footing in college, the Achieve Program assists students with learning differences in developing executive functions, self-advocacy, and goal-setting skills. At Villa, we assess the needs of each student individually and will develop a plan to help them succeed. Solutions include subject tutoring with professionally-trained tutors, quiet work spaces and tutoring rooms, extended testing time, access to note takers, access to digital books, screen readers, and more.

A Team Approach

The Achieve team communicates openly with faculty to help ensure its students stay on the right track during classes, and they work to create the best learning environment possible for every student. We can also communicate with a student’s parent/guardian. A student’s home support system can sometimes offer more insight into tactics that have worked well in the past, and they may know of strategies that are not worth trying a second time. This collaborative approach to success sets our program apart, and facilitates our students’ paths to success.

Career Readiness Program

The Career Readiness Program was designed to help Achieve students improve their career readiness skills in preparation for transition from college to career. The program utilizes one-on-one coaching and specialized workshops to explore majors, career paths, skills/strengths assessments, and part-time jobs to help build their resumes and gain experience.

Individual Support

Achieve students come to the Career Readiness Program as they are; whether they are unsure of their major, want to know more about potential career paths, or already have a plan and just need help putting it in motion. Beginning sophomore year, Achieve students are able to work with Career Readiness Program staff to help assess and identify areas in need of support, allowing them to follow their own path and meet their career goals.

Skills Practice

Achieve students will be able to work with the Career Readiness Program staff to prepare for internship and job interviews. They will cover everything from how to dress, responding to emails, meaningful questions to ask, appropriate follow-up and more. The program allows Achieve students to participate in mock interviews, aiding in increased confidence and experience leading up to real-life interviews. Additionally, students will work on self-advocacy skills, financial literacy, participate in volunteer work, and attend job fairs.

Resume Building

Achieve students will work alongside Villa’s expert staff to write resumes that highlight their strengths, underscore their accomplishments and land them job interviews. The Career Readiness Program assists students in writing strategically designed, written, and formatted resumes that aim to attract the attention of hiring managers at quality companies in the Western New York area and beyond.

Internship Prep

Internships play a pivotal role in ensuring students are prepared to enter the workforce. Students with learning differences can struggle to feel ready to take on the responsibility of an internship. By working with the Career Readiness Specialist, Achieve students can complete a supervised, on-campus internship to help put their skills into practice and build confidence in their abilities. The Career Readiness Program collaborates with the Villa Career Services Center to assist Achieve students in pursuing and preparing for traditional, off-campus internships.

Job Search

Once students have completed resumes, the job search begins. The Career Readiness Program will assist Achieve students as they search for jobs on various search engines, complete effective LinkedIn profiles, perform community outreach, and more.  Furthermore, the Career Readiness Program links students with companies that specifically invest in individuals with learning differences. Students will hit the ground running after graduation by leaving with a clear job plan on where and how they can utilize their skills obtained at Villa Maria College.

Want to Learn More About The Achieve Program?

Most Importantly, Villa’s Achieve Students Feel Like Their Success is Possible

“My learning differences made it challenging for me to understand everything I was being taught. Achieve gave me the opportunity to continue to get the help I had been used to receiving in high school at the college level. Because of my drive to do well, and with the help of the tutors in the Achieve Program, I’m on my way to attaining my goals while maintaining a 3.2 GPA or higher grade until graduation. Through the school’s and Achieve’s help, I know I will soon have a successful Graphic Arts/Creative Writing career.
— Rebecca Kendall, Graphic Design, ’20

Achieving Success, One Student at a Time

Retention Rates

  • Fall 2015-2016: 71% retention rate
  • Fall 2016-2017: 91% retention rate
  • Fall 2017-2018: 90% retention rate
  • Fall 2018-2019: 88% retention rate
  • Fall 2019-2020: 74% retention rate

Grade Point Averages

  • Fall 2017: 88% of achieve students maintained a GPA of 2.0+
  • Spring 2017: 38% of achieve students maintained a GPA of 3.0+
  • Fall 2018: 95% of achieve students maintained a GPA of 2.0 +
  • Spring 2018: 55% of achieve students maintained a GPA of 3.0 +
  • Fall 2019: 73% of achieve students maintained a GPA of 2.0 +
  • Spring 2019: 49% of achieve students maintained a GPA of 3.0 +
  • Fall 2020: 88% of achieve students maintained a GPA of 2.0 +
  • Spring 2020: 48% of achieve students maintained a GPA of 3.0 +

Our Staff

Questions about the program? Contact us today.

Director, Achieve Program

Jennifer Cornacchio

[email protected] • 716.961.1879

Career Readiness Specialist

Jill Manka

[email protected] • 716.961.1833

Assistant Director of the Achieve Program

Laura Pietak

[email protected] • 716.961.2869

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