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Student goes over her Curry College PAL Curriculum with her professor

PAL Student Profile

PAL students are first and foremost Curry College students. The program seeks bright, college-able students who have a primary diagnosis of a language-based learning disability, executive function weakness, and/or AD/HD, and who have average to superior intellectual ability. Specifically, PAL is designed to support students who:

  • Demonstrate solidly average to superior intelligence as measured by a comprehensive cognitive assessment (WAIS, WISC, or Woodcock Johnson). We are best able to support students who can comprehend the concepts presented in their classes, but need assistance in demonstrating that understanding.
  • Desire both a challenging academic curriculum and individualized academic support within a 4-year liberal arts setting.
  • Seek to understand the nature of their own learning process and to acquire skills and strategies for college success. Many PAL graduates attribute their later success in graduate school or in their careers to the insights and skills they acquired as PAL students.
  • Possess a primary diagnosis of a language-based learning disability and/or AD/HD. The diagnostic testing that is submitted with the application serves as a springboard for discussion about how each student learns. PAL professors use the student's testing information to help the individual student better understand their personal learning strengths in order to use those talents to develop strategies for success.
  • Desire a proactive, mentoring relationship with a learning specialist. The PAL professor and student work in partnership, identifying ways to anticipate problems before they arise and strategizing ways to address new issues as they emerge.
  • Seek other bright, college-able peers who have had similar experiences.
  • Understand academic frustration from past experiences, but have the motivation to achieve success with support.

Who is PAL not for?

Please note that PAL is NOT designed for students whose overall cognitive ability is in the low average range or below, who demonstrate a significant need for social skills support or remediation, or who have a primary diagnosis of a disability other than a language-based learning disability and/or AD/HD. Such applicants, if otherwise qualified for admission to Curry, are eligible for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) through Curry's Disabilities Office.

Before Attending Curry

Students are strongly recommended to begin their Curry College/PAL experience with Summer PAL, an optional experience for PAL college students, with a language-based learning disability, executive function disorders, and/or AD/HD. Students in Summer PAL are able to get a head start on understanding themselves as learners and developing skills that will help them to succeed as college students. Only students who have been accepted to Curry and PAL are eligible to participate in Summer PAL.

While Attending Curry

PAL Courses:

Students enrolled in PAL are registered automatically for one PAL course, in addition to the other courses they select. In their first year, students enroll in PAL1190 in their first semester and PAL1200 in their second semester. These are credit-bearing courses (1.5 credits per course), which consist of a combination of individual and/or small group classes with students' PAL professors. PAL includes embedded instruction in students' academic coursework, and content course materials are frequently used for teaching learning strategies. In these sessions, students learn to find the tools they need for success by learning how they learn best. Students are expected to attend all scheduled PAL classes in order to earn a passing grade in PAL.

PAL Cohorts:

During the Curry online pre-registration process, deposited PAL students may choose to participate in a PAL Cohort where they meet regularly with a PAL professor who facilitates small, scheduled classes, and individual meetings, of first-year PAL students with similar academic interests, majors, and/or topics.  These groups are designed to expand students' exploration and understanding of their interest areas, and/or their major. Many students will take similar courses with others in their cohort as a learning community where they also focus on their learning profiles and metacognitive strategies related to PAL learning outcomes.  Students in these cohorts have the benefit of a PAL professor who is connected collaboratively with the content area professors, providing opportunities for shared resources and support for students. There is no additional charge for participating in a PAL Cohort since it is part of their PAL1190 first-semester class.

PAL Commitment:

Students are expected to make a commitment to attending PAL and reporting accurately about their performance in classes. Attendance in classes is critical for success at PAL and Curry. Students are asked to engage in thoughtful, meaningful reflection of their learning and be willing to work to improve their skills. If students require specialized content-area work they are advised to make appointments with tutors in Academic Success. If they require personal counseling, PAL professors refer the students to the Counseling Center.

PAL academic courses facilitate students’ self-understanding and regulation of learning for strategic application and success at the post-secondary level. During the academic year, students work with faculty mentors whose educational scholarship and experience include transition studies, applied cognition, strategic learning, and emerging adult and adult development.

Courses in PAL consist of curriculum with individualized approaches in the areas of metacognition, self-regulation, active learning, critical thinking and reasoning, decision-making, and language skills:

Summer PAL (strongly recommended):

Explore Summer PAL course options

Summer Course (non-Summer PAL)

PAL 1195 - Connections to Learning (offered in Summer Term II, July 12 - Aug. 29, 2021)

This 3-credit class provides opportunities for students to reflect on the past, consider the present, and plan for the future. Fully online so you can continue your summer job.

This course fortifies the academic and personal learning foundation built by students during previous college experiences. Students will develop deeper self-understanding, as well as discover effective learning habits through metacognitive reflections. The online course provides individualized support and instruction for students in small groups providing opportunities to participate in a learning community, to explore technologies that may facilitate reading, writing, and listening skills, to establish goals for upcoming academic work, and to deepen personal self-knowledge. Students earn 3 credits for this elective course.  

Through this course, students have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of themselves as learners within the context of higher education. Working with a PAL faculty professor and a small group of peers, students construct strength-based strategies for written communication, reading, listening, note-taking, critical thinking, problem-solving, personal goal setting, and organization. Students will write weekly reflections on their learning, and will share experiences through online Discussion Boards with peers and in Zoom meetings.

This class is an opportunity for students to re-charge their college experience, so they are better prepared when all the semester activities and classes resume in the fall. Students who successfully complete this course have the advantage of earning three academic, elective credits. 

Required for First-Year Students:

PAL 1190 - The Learning Process I: Exploration, Insight, and Application

This course is the first in the two-course sequence required for students admitted to Curry College through the Program for Advancement of Learning. Focused on the transition from high school learning expectations to those of college courses, PAL 1190 offers students a curriculum designed to foster an understanding of themselves as learners through faculty mentorship.

Students are introduced to and explore learning strategies in the following core areas: metacognition, self-regulation, active and engaged learning, critical thinking and reasoning, receptive and expressive language. Students will create an educational plan, outlining: personal and academic long-term goals, semester goals, learning strengths, challenges, and strategies. The faculty mentor and student collaborate on evaluating student progress towards these goals throughout the semester, culminating in a reflective student paper and faculty report, which outlines individualized recommendations for the PAL 1200, the second course in the sequence.

PAL 1200 - The Learning Process II: Insight, Strategic Development, and Application

This course builds on the learning insights and strategies developed in PAL 1190 while facilitating increasing independence and strategic learning in the areas of metacognition, self-regulation, critical thinking and reasoning, receptive and expressive language, and decision making. Students will revise their PAL 1190 educational plans, incorporating lessons learned in the previous semester as well as taking into account the current semester's course expectations. The faculty mentor and student collaboratively evaluate student progress towards these goals throughout the semester, culminating in a reflective student paper and faculty report.

Elective Courses (for those opting to remain in PAL):

PAL 1210 - Applied Strategic Learning I

Open to students who have completed PAL 1190 and 1200, this course provides on going faculty mentorship in developing and applying strategic learning approaches for academic success in advancing course work. Students in PAL 1210 meet with their faculty mentors twice weekly for individualized instruction and collaboration. This course may be repeated.
Prerequisite: PAL 1200

PAL 1220 - Applied Strategic Learning II

Open to students who have completed PAL 1190 and 1200, this course provides on going faculty mentorship in developing and applying strategic learning approaches for academic success in advancing course work. Students in PAL 1220 meet with their faculty mentors once weekly for individualized instruction and collaboration. This course may be repeated.
Prerequisite: PAL 1200 or PAL 1210

    Additional Support Services

    The following Offices/Resources on campus work in close collaboration with PAL :

    PAL instructors encourage students to utilize these support services as needed, as well as guide them to seek other assistance on campus.

    The Program for the Advancement of Learning (PAL) provides instruction in learning theory, individualized support, and assistance to college students with learning differences by focusing on students' unique strengths as they become competent, effective, independent learners through heightened self-awareness and knowledge of the learning process.



    Students will define and explain their preferred learning styles, strengths and challenges, as well as the strategies (e.g. for reading, writing, communicating, test-taking) that support them; and, will explain ways they apply and reassess those strategies, as they engage in the metacognitive process of thinking about their own thinking.


    Students will demonstrate self-knowledge by identifying personal goals that include appropriate academic accommodations and that include a time/materials management system; they will define a plan that incorporates an active and reflective mechanism for them to achieve those goals, through personal advocacy, and with openness to change.


    Students will actively engage in their learning environment and personal life-learning. Students will identify connections and relationships they make between one's self and others as members of communities and will actively participate in shared activities or efforts where they demonstrate knowledge of their own and others' perspectives.



    Students will demonstrate critical and creative thinking and reasoning skills that question and evaluate their own and others' assumptions about complex problems and will provide possible solutions.


    Students will demonstrate ways they understand visual, written, and auditory information and will demonstrate ways they authentically express personal ideas, thoughts, and feelings through written, verbal, or other expressive vehicles.

    PAL faculty have over 50 years of experience working with adult learners where PAL professors with expertise teach college-able adults with learning disabilities (LD), attention deficits (ADHD), and/or Executive Function Disorder (EF). The PAL professor provides a supportive environment for under-graduate and graduate adult students with LD /ADHD/EF who want to understand their learning and achieve educational and vocational goals at Curry College.

    Take the next step

    We're excited you're considering our internationally recognized Program for Advancement of Learning (PAL) and look forward to helping you reach your career goals.