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Transition to College

The Office of Disability Services (ODS) is committed to helping students with disabilities and their parents make a smooth transition from high school to postsecondary education. First, it is helpful to understand that the laws governing postsecondary 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 postsecondary education does not necessarily provide the same accommodations set forth in their I.E.P. or 504 Plan.

Overall Legal Principles

High School College

Every student with a disability has a right to a free and appropriate public education.

Postsecondary education is available to qualified individuals with disabilities who, with or without reasonable accommodation, meet the eligibility criteria and standards (academic, technical, professional, and behavioral) for admission to and participation in an educational program or activity.

Fundamental alteration of programs and curricula are required.

Fundamental alterations are not an option.

The school is responsible for identifying students as needing accommodations.

Students must self-identify as a person with a disability and request accommodations through the ODS.

School district develops Individualized Education Plans (I.E.P.) to define educational services.

No Individual Education Plan (I.E.P.) exists.

Personal services for medical or physical disability are required.

Postsecondary education is not required to provide personal attendants nor services.


High School College

Primary advocates are students’ parents or guardians. Students at this time are learning about their disability, their accommodations, and how to self-advocate.

Students are expected to advocate for themselves. Students are responsible for requesting accommodations and for discussing accommodation needs with faculty.

Role of Parents or Guardians

High School College

Parents or guardians are responsible to make sure the school is accommodating their child appropriately.

As a registered student with a disability, it is the student’s responsibility to provide notice of any issues (e.g., ineffective accommodations, interruption of services, etc.) that they may encounter.

Parents or guardians receive regular contact and feedback from the school.

Postsecondary education contact with parents or guardians is limited by privacy laws.

Confidentiality of Students’ Disabilities

High School College

Students’ disabilities are discussed among parents or guardians, teachers, administrators, and others on the I.E.P. team. It may be discussed with people diagnosing or working to accommodate the disability.

Students’ disability records are considered educational records under FERPA. The ODS can disclose information if the student has given written consent or if the other party can show a legitimate educational interest in the information.

Time and Attendance

High School College

School is approximately six hours per day, five days a week.

Full time students typically spend twelve to eighteen hours per week in class, depending on their course load.

The school year is about nine months long.

An academic year consists of two to three semesters.


High School College

Students spend thirty hours per week in class, perhaps only zero to two hours outside of class studying.

Students spend approximately twelve to eighteen hours per week in class but study outside of class at least two to three hours for every hour spent in class.

Students are told in class what they need to learn from material assigned.

Students are expected to read the assigned material; lectures and assignments proceed from the assumption that they have done so.


High School College

Tests are frequent, covering small amounts of material.

Tests are often infrequent, cumulative, and cover a great deal of material. Organizing the material is up to the students.

Makeup tests are often available.

The syllabus should state whether makeup tests are available. If so, it is up to students to request one.

Grading standards are sometimes changed. Credit is sometimes given for effort.

Grading standards do not change. Credit for effort is rare.

Promoting Student Success

High School College

The school is responsible for ensuring student success.

Students create success by knowing what accommodations they need to have equal access, effectively advocating for these needs, and utilizing resources available to them.

Adapted from Alamo Colleges’ “Student Services: High School to College Transition & Accommodations” brochure 

FERPA & Confidentiality

Students who attend college are considered to be adults, protected by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The 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. For additional information, please review UPPS No. 01.04.31: Access to Student Records Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.