The Transition from High School to College, What Parents Need to Know
The Office of Disability Services (ODS) is committed to helping students with disabilities and their parents make a smooth transition from high school to the university. First, it is helpful to understand that the laws governing a university education are different from those governing K-12 and so is the accommodation process. Students with disabilities who received accommodations in high school should be aware that universities do not necessarily provide the same accommodations set forth in their IEP or 504 Plan.
The differences between IDEA (K-12) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and Section 504 (post-secondary education) are:
High schools must:
- Identify students with disabilities
- Provide assessment of learning disabilities
- Involve parents in decision-making
- Provide non-academic services
- Modify educational programs
- Prepare Individual Education Plans (IEPs)
- Provide a free and appropriate education
- Help each student reach their potential
Post-secondary institutions must:
- Protect the student’s right to privacy and confidentiality (this includes conversations with parents)
- Provide equal access to programs and services that are offered to students without disabilities
- Make information available to students regarding office locations and procedures for requesting accommodations
- Evaluate documentation
- Determine whether the student’s disability substantially limits one or more major life activities which would qualify the student for accommodations
- Provide reasonable accommodations, meaning those accommodations that enable the student to compete equally with their peers without disabilities
- Provide reasonable and equal access to generally available programs
- Make reasonable classroom adjustments that do not alter the integrity, essential components or technical standards of a course or program
- Inform students of their rights and responsibilities
Post-secondary institutions are not required to:
- Reduce or waive the essential requirements of a course or program
- Provide evaluations or testing to diagnosis a disability
- Provide personal attendants
- Provide tutoring beyond what is available to all students
- Prepare IEPs
- Ensure a student is academically successful
- Keep parents informed
The student is responsible to:
- Disclose their disability to the ODS and provide documentation in a timely manner
- Know about the nature of their disability and how the accommodations help
- Act on his/her own behalf as an independent
- Discuss classroom and testing accommodations with faculty members in accordance with university policy
- Arrange and pay for personal care attendants if needed
The ODS Service Model of Self Advocacy
Self advocacy is at the core of all services provided by the Office of Disability Services. Students with disabilities at Texas State are expected to be active participants in the accommodation process. Our philosophy is based on the foundation that self advocacy begins with a student knowing about, and understanding their disability so they can express their needs to faculty members and others. Being a self advocate also means knowing your rights and responsibilities as it relates to your specific accommodations. A self advocate can also compromise when needed, in order to get the most out of a situation. As it relates to accommodations, this does not mean settling for something that is ineffective or does not meet your needs. A good self advocate also knows when and where to go for help.
Important Things to Remember
Students who attend college are considered to be adults, protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). ODS staff cannot talk to parents about confidential information, including academic activities. Parents need to talk to the student directly. Students act as responsible adults when disclosing disabilities and requesting accommodations.
How Parents Can Help their Student
- Listen and provide support and consultation, but give your student the space to figure it out on their own. Resist the urge to “fix” the problem.
- Encourage them to make connections. Direct your student to talk with the ODS, their professors, their academic advisor and other individuals who can assist them while at Texas State.
- Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Mistakes are part of the learning process; allow them to learn from their experiences.
- Help promote your student’s self advocacy by encouraging them to set their own goals and take ownership of their education.
- The ODS welcomes parents’ appropriate involvement. However, be aware that because of FERPA, ODS professionals cannot share information with parents without a student’s written permission.
- Trust the ODS process. Our role is to guide students through this developmental process in order to help them become independent and responsible adults.
Please take a moment to read this open letter to parents of students with disabilities about to enter college.
Utilize this checklist to further your understanding of the differences between K-12 and College
Transition to College: Strategic Planning to Ensure Success for Students with Learning Disabilities
Comparison of IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA