Transition from High School to College

Planning for Transition from High School to College
for High School Students with Disabilities

student standing facing chalkboard of equationsThe transition from high school to college is a particularly complicated time for high school students as well as for their parents.  Many changes are going on in the student's life at the same time as their transition to college, including a wide range of emancipation issues.  While gaining skills in becoming more independent, the student has a lot going on in terms of coping with a vastly different adult environment with very different expectations.  In order to receive accommodations or resource support, please contact Disability Resources and get to know the process for getting help or requesting accommodations.  Meanwhile, their parents are going through a challenging transition themselves as they learn about new confidentiality restrictions and how to support their son or daughter in making independent decisions.  All of this is very complicated and parents and students are welcome to contact Disability Resources with questions, concerns or suggestions.

Are you thinking about attending college?

If so, be sure to make an appointment with the college's Disability Resources Office well before you plan to start. They can tell you about the services and accommodations available to help you be successful in college.

If you are a high school junior or senior, attend the annual Transition Academy in the spring to learn about how to succeed at a college or university.

Determine your strengths, problem areas and abilities.

Learn about your disability, and how it affects you in school and in work. You will want to be able to describe your disability, your strengths, and areas of difficulty. Also, be prepared to describe strategies that help you.

Work with your high school teachers to create an effective, complete transition plan.

While you are still in high school, you may want to get help completing your college application, and financial aid forms. This is also a good time to develop self-advocacy skills, learn about assistive technology that may be important for you in college classes, and receive career and college program advising or counseling. You and your teacher will want to research the college's requirements for disability documentation that will determine your eligibility for accommodations. Work closely with your teacher, transition specialist, or counselor while you complete the following tasks:

  • Check the college's website

  • Make a list of questions for the Disability Resources staff

  • Tour the college campus

  • Find out where to take the college placement tests (and whether you need to take them)

  • Get help in developing a schedule of classes you plan to take (based on the results of your placement tests), and learn how to register for classes.

Meet with the Disability Resources Office staff

Schedule a time to attend a D.R. Orientation session as soon as possible. Bring your disability documentation, if you have access to it.

Check the college's admission procedures

Look at the website or in the college catalog for details, and plan to attend any new student information sessions.

Attend the Program Orientation for your chosen major, or for undecided majors, if you plan to take credit courses.

Develop some basic skills to cope in college

College is fun, but it is also hard work. Consider limiting difficult courses to 1-2 each term. Plan to spend 3-4 hours studying outside of class for each hour spent in class, especially when it involves a lot of homework. Take a course to learn how to organize your schedule, so that everything gets done. Develop some strong study habits.

Become familiar with on-campus and off-campus support services

Check the college's website, Counseling Office, and college catalog for resource lists.

Other Suggestions:

  • Remember that you must provide recent documentation in order for the college to determine if you are eligible for accommodations.

  • Once you are attending college, be sure each of your instructors understand the accommodations you will need.

  • It is important to develop and practice using self-advocacy skills to make sure your needs are met.

  • Give yourself every chance possible to succeed - get help early when problems come up.

  • There are many interesting activities in college. Check with the college's Student Life and Leadership Development Department to learn about clubs and events. College is fun, so take time to enjoy yourself!