Despite the influx of students with learning disabilities (SLD) into colleges and universities following the ratification of the ADA and IDEA act, existing literature regarding SLD continues focus on SLD who struggle to reach college. This study exists to increase our understanding of how intelligent, learning-disabled students interpret two facets of their identity that are seemingly at odds with one another and how this affects their experience of a rigorous college education. Analysis of in-depth interviews with 11 SLD at an academically elite small liberal arts school reveals that perceptions of intelligence and the stigma learning disability often contradict one another, complicating the diagnostic process and creating inner turmoil for these academically inclined SLD. Socioeconomic class and capital interacted with neoliberal ideology to further complicate the disability management process for lower income/working class students.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Matthew Grace

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.