Do Any of Your Students Have a Disability? Below are some Ideas to Help Them Settle into College.

Section 504 for College Students

Things to Consider during Transition for High School Students with IEP/504 Plans

  1. Plan to apply for accommodations in college.
    1. Recognize that increased academic demands will require more academic support.
    1. Services received in high school will not automatically follow students to college.
    1. Not all accommodations granted in high school are considered reasonable in college.
    1. Students can choose not to use college accommodations; it is better to have them and not use them, than to not have them and seek them after falling behind.
  • Locate the documentation of your disability from high school to ensure that you have appropriate and updated documentation for the application process.
    • Most documents should typically be dated within three (3) years of starting college.
    • Documentation that is not current but otherwise meets College guidelines may qualify the student for one semester of provisional accommodations while the student seeks re-evaluation.
    • Parents may have to seek out and pay an outside provider for private testing.
    • It is recommended that students have information as up-to-date as possible that reflects the most recent services they were provided.
  • Find out as much as possible about the disability support services office at the colleges(s) of the student’s choice.
    • Take advantage of college tours, college presentations, etc. to find out as much information as possible about the application process and the services offered.
    • Use the college’s website to gather information about the application process, especially deadlines and documentation guidelines.
  • Complete the intake process as early as possible to ensure accommodations are in place on the first day of classes.
    • June/July for fall semester; November/December for spring semester; March/April for summer semester.
    • Students who start strong are more likely to persist in college. Having and using accommodations can contribute to college persistence.
  • Expect the first year in college to be different than high school.
    • Course grades are based more on performance and achievement as compared to the flexibility of some high school grades utilizing effort and participation.
  • Academic demands will be higher in college courses. If your college offers it, the Introduction to College/Introduction to University Life, College Success Skills type course will be helpful as it covers topics such as study skills and time management.
  • Students will be considered adults and will have adult decisions to make about class schedules, course selection, managing time, etc., and can expect adult consequences as well.
  • Prepare for an increased level of self-advocacy.
    • Learn how to communicate information about disability/diagnosis, strengths/weaknesses and functional limitations.
    • Inform the college disabilities counselor immediately if barriers/concerns arise about your accommodations.
  • Consider starting slow in the first semester/year of college.
    • Aim for a successful first semester to grow into the new environment and new role as an adult.
    • Embrace the idea that getting good grades is more important than finishing fast. For some students, taking four courses instead of five may be a way to increase chances for academic success during the first semester.
    • Resist comparisons with friends/other graduates. Remember that everyone learns differently and at a different pace!
  • Remember that a student’s progress and success in college is the student’s responsibility!
    • Under FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), once a student reaches the age of 18 or enters post-secondary education (i.e., college) at any age, parents no longer have the right to access the student’s records or intervene on the student’s behalf with college faculty/staff, except when given permission by the student.

College staff are awaiting the opportunity to work with students as they learn how to function independently in the college environment to achieve success!

By Kenneth McGhee, Director DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG)