Making the Transition from High School to Postsecondary Ed

Strategies for Success:

While transitioning from high school to postsecondary ed can be daunting for any student, those with disabilities are likely to have unique needs and additional requirements. In today’s educational landscape, navigating these new challenges doesn’t have to be difficult. Many colleges offer resources to help students with disabilities adapt, such as:

  • Accessible dorm rooms
  • Assistive technology
  • Course substitutions
  • Priority registration
  • Sign language interpreters

Students and their families should consult potential colleges/universities about the types of accommodations and resources provided. They should also ensure the school offers proper housing to meet their needs; this is generally done through the Office of Campus Housing. Most residential advisors will be educated on how to serve all students living within their dormitory, including those with disabilities.

As students prepare to graduate high school and start postsecondary ed, there are a few things they, along with their families, can do to make the transition easier.

The top five ways to make this change as smooth as possible are:

  1. Understand your study style. There will be a lot more coursework to get through at the collegiate level, so take time to think about how you work best: try breaking down projects into manageable steps, develop a plan for taking notes, look into assistive technology, and make contact with your professors as soon as possible to find out what resources may be available.
  2.  Simulate independent living. Whether it’s doing laundry for the first time or learning how to manage money, these new skills often sneak up on students in their first year of college. Rather than having to learn about these parts of college life in the midst of cramming for tests, try to practice some of these skills while still in high school.
  3. Think about logistics. There will be many new experiences when starting college, and students with disabilities may need to think about additional components of everyday life. Considering the best paths to classrooms or creating a schedule that allows ample time to get from point A to point B will help alleviate a lot of stress once school starts.
  4. Speak up for yourself. While colleges have advanced greatly in providing safe and supportive environments for students with disabilities, you may sometimes need to speak up about your needs, as others may not think about logistics or day-to-day events in the same way. Develop your confidence to let others around you know if your needs aren’t being met.
  5.  Read up about your rights. Students with disabilities are protected under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Students and their families should review this document to understand the responsibilities a college has to all students with disabilities.

Adapted From:  Affordable College Online