College is a time of transition for all students: The structure of high school is gone, and lots of students will be living away from their parents for the first time. Even for students who live in dorms, it’s a big change from living in the structured environment of a family home. But for students with disabilities, there are additional issues and concerns to keep in mind to make the transition to college as smooth as possible. It’s totally possible to have a satisfying academic and social experience at college if you have a disability, but preparation should begin well before you arrive on campus.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
You should learn about the laws that protect you from discrimination, both at college and elsewhere. The first law you need to know about is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (section 504) that says that universities or colleges that receive money from the federal government are required to make reasonable modifications to their normal procedures and policies to accommodate people with qualified disabilities. The other important law for students to know about is the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. This law states that all schools, whether or not they receive federal funds, are not allowed to discriminate against those with disabilities. The only schools exempted from this law are ones owned by religious organizations. Students who have experienced discrimination should first reach out to their school’s disability services office. If the issue isn’t resolved, the next step is to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
- The Rights of College Students With Disabilities
- Seven Things to Know About College Disability Services
- Legal Issues: ADA Basics
- Disabilities in Higher Education
- Beyond Self-Advocacy: Basic Rights College Students With Disabilities Should Know
- Baccalaureates or Burdens? Complicating Reasonable Accommodations for American College Students With Disabilities
- The Americans With Disabilities Act
- What Are a Public or Private College’s Responsibilities to Students With Disabilities?
- The ADA, Section 504, and Postsecondary Education
- The Impact of the Americans With Disabilities Act on Higher Education
PREPARING FOR COLLEGE
A successful college experience requires preparation for any student. For example, the structure of the day is very different in college: The vast majority of colleges don’t follow a bell schedule, and class periods are mixed in with free time. Knowing how to manage the independence of college and take care of your responsibilities is important. You’ll also need to give some thought to how your disability affected your schooling so far so you can be prepared for issues you might face in college and begin planning for how to address them. One important skill all students will need in college is learning how to advocate for themselves. This skill is even more important for students with disabilities, since you’ll likely need to advocate for yourself to get the accommodations you need. You’ll also have to submit the proper paperwork to the school that verifies both your disability and the accommodations needed.
Choosing the right college is also very important. Schools with a disability services office should be better prepared to meet your needs and help arrange for the accommodations or additional services you require. When touring colleges, make sure to meet with the disability services office to discuss your needs.
- Students With Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education
- Preparing Students With Disabilities for Postsecondary Education
- Transition of Students With Disabilities to Postsecondary Education: A Guide for High School Educators
- Checklist for Preparing a Student With a Disability for a Postsecondary Education
- A Practical Guide for People With Disabilities Who Want to Go to College
- College and Alternatives for Students With Disabilities
- Postsecondary Education and Training Preparation Toolkit
- Transitioning to College From High School
KEYS TO SUCCESS IN COLLEGE
Once you’re at college, there are a few steps you should take right away to increase your odds of success. Start by meeting with the disability services office. You should also meet with your professors one on one so that they can get to know you and learn about the accommodations you’ll need. If you’ll be using a new kind of adaptive technology, you should also practice using it to make sure it’s comfortable for you before classes begin. And like all students, students with disabilities will need to establish good time management skills and learn how to study effectively. Take advantage of on-campus tutors and services like writing centers as needed: They’re there to help.
- Ten Tips for College Students With Disabilities
- College Tips for Students With Learning Disabilities
- College Survival Skills
- Success in College: Advice and Strategies From College Students and College Graduates who Have Developmental Disabilities
- Eight Tips for Students With Learning Disabilities and Dyslexia Transitioning to College
- Six Factors Students With Learning Disabilities Need to Succeed
- Decision Time: Choosing a College and Making the Transition From High School Successful for Students With Disabilities
- Helping Students With Disabilities Successfully Transition to College
- How Students With Disabilities and Their Parents Need to Prepare for College
HELPFUL ORGANIZATIONS, INFORMATION, AND SCHOLARSHIPS
- Scholarships for Students With Disabilities
- The Complete Guide to Scholarships for Students With Disabilities
- Financial Aid Eligibility for Students With Intellectual Disabilities
- Scholarships for Students With Learning Disabilities
- Disability Care Center Scholarships
- The Fully Accessible Guide to Paying for College for Students With Disabilities
- Scholarships for Students With ADHD or LD
- Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship