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Transition to College

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