Transition from High School to Post-Secondary Education

During high school, students with disabilities have a variety of experiences with transition and ideally - carefully planned their transition to postsecondary education with the help and support of parents, school counselors, special education teachers and general education teachers.

Transition planning for college is really a subset of planning for adult life because postsecondary education is not an end in itself; it is one choice that a student might making in preparing for adulthood. A postsecondary education provides an extended educational opportunity for developing skills needed for a successful career and meaningful life.

IDEA (K-12)

Students with disabilities in K-12 education receive accommodations based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) from 2004. The school is mandated to provide the accommodations deemed necessary via the Individual Education Program (IEP).

Section 504 & ADA (Post-Secondary Education)

In post-secondary education, services for students with disabilities are provided under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). In college, students with disabilities must apply for and request accommodations on their own; they must provide documentation that identifies their disability or disabilities to receive appropriate accommodations.

Students with Disabilities’ Transition to College

  • Transition from high school to post-secondary institutions is fraught with navigating a different legal framework that shifts the focus of responsibility to the students to document their disabilities and self-advocating for receiving accommodations.
  • All students must adjust when they get to college, but students with disabilities are affected more because their disabilities impact learning, planning, time management, social interactions, and concentration.
Your time is structured by others. You manage your own time.
Each day you proceed from one class directly to another, spending 6 hours each day- 30 hours a week- in class. You often have hours between class; class times vary throughout the day and evening and you may spend only 6 to 12 hours each week in class.
The school year is 36 weeks long; some classes extend over both semesters and some don’t. The academic year is divided into two separate 15-week semesters, plus a week after each semester for exams.
Teachers are often available for conversation before, during, and after class. While instructors are available via phone or email, they will expect you to meet with them during their office hours.
Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material. Testing may be infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material. You may only have 2 or 3 testing during one semester for a particular course.
Grades are given for most assigned work. Grades may not be provided for all assigned work.
Teachers provide additional information to help you understand the material in the textbook. Instructors may not follow the textbook. Instead, they may add to the text through the use of background information, research, or illustrations. They may also expect you to relate the classes to the textbook readings.
Students can often wait to review notes and handouts until the day before a test. Students should review class notes daily, as there may be only 2-3 total exams all semester. Students should be sure to look over class material at minimum once a day. Students should make arrangements to see their professor(s) on information that is unclear or requires further explanation for the student’s understanding. Students should be in touch with professors sooner rather than days before a major exam.
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