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Postsecondary Education

Preparing for Postsecondary Education: What Families Need to Know

Accessing accommodations in college is much different than in high school. Learn more about the process and how to plan ahead by watching this three-minute video from PACER Transition Specialist Erika Theiler.

Postsecondary education is an exciting opportunity for all youth, including those with disabilities. Going to college today can mean attending a 4-year college or university, a 2-year community college, or a technical institute or trade school. It can mean studying full-time or part-time, or living at school or commuting from home. Learning and earning go hand-in-hand. The more years of schooling your youth completes, the higher his or her income is likely to be. The wide variety of postsecondary educational programs currently available for youth makes exploring options with your son or daughter an exciting process.

Although postsecondary students with disabilities are entitled to certain protections, the process for accessing accommodations is much different than in high school. Youth must take a more active role in knowing their rights and advocating for needed supports. This means they must know about their disability and the accommodations they need to be successful. Families play an important role in helping their young adults learn self-advocacy skills, as well as their rights as a person with a disability.

Preparing for Postsecondary Education

Youth with disabilities are entering postsecondary education in increasing numbers and finding great success. For many, the key to that success is using high school classes, career exploration and campus tours to prepare for what is expected out of a college student.

Selecting the Right Program

Education or training after high school is a great opportunity for youth to explore programs that meet their interests and that help them build skills for future employment. It is crucial that youth and families inform themselves about the many different types of programs and areas of study that are available, and which ones might be the best fit.

Campus Life

Going off to college is a new experience for every youth. It’s a great opportunity to learn new things, make new friends, further explore interests and practice living independently. Youth with disabilities may need to make additional preparations to be successful on campus. Consider such things as health management, transportation, and social skills when preparing youth for campus life.

Understanding Academic Accommodations

Colleges are not responsible for making sure students with disabilities are successful academically, just that they have access to the same educational opportunities as every other student. College students with disabilities often use academic accommodations so they can do the same course work as their peers. Parents and youth should seek to understand the accommodations process and what accommodations work best for each individual student.

Financial Aid

It is crucial that youth and families begin planning for how postsecondary education costs will be covered as early as possible. This includes knowing when to submit financial aid paperwork, accessing programs that may help cover certain costs and using other savings strategies.

Knowing Your Rights and Responsibilities

Students with disabilities in postsecondary education are protected from discrimination based on disability. They also have certain responsibilities to make sure those protections are in place. Youth and families should inform themselves about rights, responsibilities, and what to do if a complaint arises.

Inclusive Postsecondary Opportunities for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Learn why inclusive postsecondary education is important (and possible!) for students with intellectual disabilities, how to find the right program, how to prepare, and how to stay involved and supportive throughout their journey.