Transition Planning for High School Students with Disabilities

Are you thinking about attending college? Learn about how to transition to college.

View this complete guide for helpful information regarding the transition from K-12 to College. PDF: Transition to Post-secondary Education

On this page:

  • Tips for creating an effective transition plan.
  • Explanation of legal difference between secondary and post-secondary education.
  • Recommendations for how to succeed in college.
  • How to plan ahead for disability verification.
  • Link to information for parents and advocates.
  • Links to online resources for transitioning to college.

Creating an effective transition plan

While students are in high school, they should work with teachers or a transition specialist to help plan the transition to college.

  • Develop and practice self-advocacy skills.
  • Learn about accessible technology that may be important for your success in college classes.
  • Check Lane's website to learn about the programs of study the college offers.
  • Review Lane's Steps to Enroll Page for first time students. This will walk you through the process of enrolling at Lane Community College.
  • Tour the college campus.
  • Take the college placement tests, which focus on reading, writing, and math.
  • Contact the Center for Accessible Resources (CAR) to learn about accommodations.

The transition from high school to college can be a complex time filled with growth opportunities for students and their parents. Changes include:

  • Need for students to become independent and advocate for themselves.
  • New confidentiality restrictions for students over 18.
  • Parents learning how to support their son or daughter in making independent decisions. See CAR's Parents/Advocates Page

Legal differences between secondary and postsecondary education


Secondary education

Postsecondary education

Federal laws Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (504) of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (504) of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.
Change in reasons behind legislation Ensures eligible students with disabilities have access to a free appropriate public education. This includes special education. Also, to ensure no qualified person with a disabilitiy be denied access to any program or activity provided by a public institution or entity, as per the ADA and 504.  To ensure no qualified person with a disability be denied access to any program or activity provided by a public institution or entity, as per the ADA and 504. 
Eligibility All persons 21 years or under with disabilities, as defined by state Administrative Rules and/or ADA, are eligible for special education services.  Those who meet the entry level-age criteria of the college and can document a disability as defined by 504 and ADA is eligible for disability services. 
Documentation School districts must provide trained personnel to assess a students eligibility.  Students must obtain disability documentation from an appropriate professional. 
Receiving services  School districts must identify students with disabilities, design special instruction, and/or provide accommodations.  Students must seek services from offices like CAR, and must request accommodations for each class. There are no special education courses; instead, accommodations are provided so students can succeed in the regular learning environment. 
Self-advocacy Students learn about their disabilities and practice self-advocacy.  Students must be able to describe their disability, identify strengths and weaknesses, and assess and ask for accommodations. Students need to be their own advocate. 

Information in above table provided by Oregon State University's Disability Access Services, and is available in PDF form:

PDF: OSU Disability Access Services Table

Recommendations for success

  • Begin the application process well in advance of the term you plan to start college. Please see CAR's Application Process Page.
  • Understand strengths, abilities, and areas of challenge.
  • Learn about your disability and how it impacts you while in school and at work. Be able to describe your disability, your strengths, and challenging areas.
  • Consider what strategies you have already used to be successful in school.
  • Develop organization and time management skills.
  • Consider starting out with just 2-3 classes while adjusting to college expectations.
  • College can be fun, but it is also hard work. Plan 3-4 hours of studying outside of class for each hour spent in class.
  • Take classes to help you learn how to study. Organize your schedule to get all of your homework done by the due dates.

Planning Ahead: Disability Verification

CAR’s application requires verification of disabilities. Disability documentation must be recent and verify the nature and extent of the disability and clearly show the need for each of your requested accommodations. Individual Educational Plans, while helpful, are not sufficient disability verification. While still in high school, plan ahead and request that your school give you updated evaluations or diagnostic testing with adult norms before you leave.

Learn more on our Application Process page.

Communication and self-advocacy

  • Develop and practice self-advocacy skills to ensure your needs are met.
  • Talk with your instructors. Be sure each of them understands your needed accommodations; work out any details.
  • Give yourself every chance possible to succeed. There are many resources available on campus. It’s okay to ask for help!
  • Parents and students are welcome to contact CAR with questions or concerns.

Online resources for transitioning to college