Making the TransitionMan using laptop in wheelchair

Like any major life change, the move from high school to college requires planning and mapping out a process. Think College has simplified this process below, but keep in mind that each step may require further research and discussion. For additional information, click the "Resources" link in the For Families section.

  • Help your student understand their choices by visiting programs, talking to other students, talking to other families, watching videos, and so on.
  • Set goals for postsecondary education and career by using person-centered planning.
  • Enrolled your child in academic courses throughout high school to prepare him for college courses. Students who have more inclusive academic experiences in high school do better in college.
  • Know the difference between the laws that govern education at the secondary level (IDEA = entitlement) and the college level (ADA = otherwise qualified). (See “Understanding College” for more information.)
  • Encourage your child to participate in and, if possible, lead her own Individual Education Plan. Encourage her to plan the meeting, work with a teacher to identify her goals and supports, present about her goals at the meeting, welcome the team, and learn about the forms.
  • Help your child learn to advocate for himself during high school, as that helps to prepare him for doing it in college.
  • Carefully review college catalogues with your son or daughter, along with support from high school staff, as needed. While he or she attends middle or high school, visit campus activities, including sports, recreational, and entertainment activities. You can ask a currently enrolled student to provide a college tour.
  • Keep documentation of your child’s disability up to date. Her college may require this.
  • Discuss the nature of their disability with your child and how it affects his school work. Practice how she refers to the disability and identify what supports she needs.
  • Request that teachers document which accommodations and technology your child uses now and which they may need in college (for example, reader, note taker, screen reader, PDA, etc.). Create a list of these accommodations and supports.
  • Visit colleges together so that your child can make an informed choice.
  • Request an appointment for your son or daughter with college Disability Services Office (DSO) staff. There, he or she can discuss documentation and learn about how accommodations in college are different from high school.
  • If the campus offers a specific program for students with intellectual disabilities, meet with the staff. Learn how participants in that program participate in general college life and academics.
  • Discuss goals, learning needs, and how to obtain accommodations, including academic supports that are available for all students with your child and DSO staff before the start of classes.
  • Arrange transportation before classes begin. Your child may need to rely on carpooling, public transportation, or other methods.
  • Understand available financial aid and make sure that funding for all costs is arranged before the start of school. Be sure to include in your expenses tuition, books, fees, and transportation.
  • Identify how financial support your child may receive impacts other benefits such as social security and SSDI.
  • Understand which services are available through adult human service agencies. Representatives from these groups should be at the transition IEP, PCP, etc. Make sure your child has the phone numbers for relevant agencies stored in his or her cell phone.
  • Understand that you, the parent, need written consent from the student for access to their records during college.