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Transition to College

Transition To the Post Secondary World   Transitioning out of high school and into college or a training program is exciting however at the same time is a change from what the student is used to.  Students are used to parents, teachers and counselors making sure the student receives the necessary services and accommodations to help them meet with success. In the post secondary world services and accommodations are completely accessible however the student has to initiate the process and follow up to ensure they are carried out.As the student transitions out of high school is it important that they develop the necessary skills to advocate for themselves. What is Self-Advocacy?

Self –Advocacy is understanding your strengths and needs; identifying your personal goals, knowing your rights and responsibilities and learning to communicate them in an appropriate manner.

Why is becoming an advocate for yourself important:

Being able to self-advocate is important especially as you transition out of high school into the post secondary world (college, vocational training, work, ect…) because once you leave high school it is your job to understand your disability and let others know what tools you need to be successful. *** An example could be certain accommodations that you currently receive that are very helpful for you such as extended time. It would be your job to communicate how extended time is helpful for you in achieving success.

The difference in law from high school to the post secondary world:

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is the law that entitles you to special education services while in high school. Once you graduate special education law ends and you will then be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The main difference between the two laws is while in high school those around you (teachers, counselors, parents ect...) make sure that you receive the necessary tools to help you achieve success. Once in the post secondary world you must speak up for yourself (advocate) for your needs. What is the Student Exit Summary:  As part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students who receive special education services or have a 504 Accommodation Plan will be receiving a document when they graduate called the Student Exit Summary (SES). This document is designed to better provide a summary of the student’s academic achievement and functional performance and includes recommendations on how to assist the student in meeting his/her postsecondary goals. The S.E.S. is important in assisting students in the transition from high school to higher education, training, and/or employment. The SES document contains a portion called the student perspective which is dedicated to self-advocacy. Here, the student completes questions regarding how his/her disability impacts him/her; the accommodations he/she has received through out his/her years in special education; how they have helped; and, lastly, his/her strengths and weaknesses. I will be going into the senior learning skills classes to discuss the importance of becoming a self advocate with the students, and will have them complete the student perspective for their SES document.             

What steps need to be taken in order to receive services in college: 

Once you have decided what school you will be attending, seek out their Students With Disabilities Office. This can be done when visiting the school or during orientation. If you will be attending a local school you can make an appointment at any time. If you are planning to attend a school far away, I would suggest that you try to take care of this over the phone and have the documents faxed. In any event, the latest you should take care of this is a few days before classes start.

It is recommended that you make an appointment to speak with a counselor. Be sure you bring the Student Exit Summary and attached testing(psychological and educational) with you,  as this is the documentation of your disability. If your appointment to meet with the disability office is prior to your exit meeting, please stop by the transition coordinator's office in the PPS department to pick up a copy  of your most recent IEP along with copies any recent testing that has been completed. While you are meeting with the counselor in the disability office, you will want to make sure that in addition to supplying the documentation of your disability, you avidly advocate for yourself. Colleges are mandated to supply the accommodations they feel are necessary and appropriate for you. However, the more you advocate for yourself, the better your chances are of getting all the tools you need to be successful. Once you have established your accommodations with the disability office, you need to find out what the procedure is for notifying professors of your accommodations.

Once classes begin, you should introduce yourself to your professor either during class or during the professors office hours and notify them of your accommodations. Once they are aware of your accommodations, they can inform you of the procedure for using those accommodations.

Please remember there are wonderful services and people in college that are there to help you just like in high school. The main difference between high school and college is: in college you must seek out the services rather than services being automatically provided to you. 

Please check out these links for further helpful information on the transition to college     

Links for questions to ask when visiting a college:

Click here for a list of questions regarding accommodations and services 

Click here for a list of questions regarding assistive technology 

For questions or further assistance please contact Michelle Kinhackl, District Transition Coordinator at 516-792-4161 or