Information for Parents
A Parents’ Guide to College
College life poses different challenges for students with disabilities. When students enroll in college, they are considered responsible adults by faculty and staff. The expectations are that they will assume responsibilities for meeting their class requirements.
This added responsibility is coupled with a change in environment. Whereas the high school was a very structured environment with a set schedule, college schedules can vary dramatically. For the first time, students may have considerable time between classes and frequently do not use this time wisely. Students must enforce their own attendance policies and realize personal consequences if they choose not to attend class.
Is your child ready to assume responsibilities? If not, how will s/he learn these responsibilities?
Another student’s responsibility is that of self-advocate. Students must become adept at realistically assessing and understanding their strengths, weaknesses, needs, and preferences. Also, they must become experts at communicating these to other adults including instructors and service providers. Although services will be available to them through an office specializing in services for students with disabilities, called the Student Access Office at Avila, students will be responsible for seeking these services and support. Good communication skills and knowledge about oneself become crucial to success in college. How well does your child describe disability information? How well does your child self-advocate?
High school and college are very different. Consider these differences and their importance to your child.
High School: Services are delivered to the student
College: Students must seek out services.
High School: Services are based on an agreed-upon time allotment and menu of choices
College: Services are based on situational/individual needs
High School: Case managers act as advocates
College: Student acts as their own advocate
High School: Annual review & IEP
College: No annual review or IEP
High School: Regular parent contact
College: No parent contact
High School: Entitlement law (IDEA)
College: Anti-discrimination law (ADA)
High School: Education and psychology tested in provided
College: Documentation must be provided by the student
Keep in mind that the college demands will be different and often greater than in high school. These demands include the need for greater organizational skills, assertiveness, and the use of self-advocacy skills. Students must be prepared to handle a complicated course schedule and make more time for studying and completing assignments. Mastering learning strategies and study techniques will make college coursework more manageable. Because adults will not be seeking out the students to offer assistance, students cannot be shy about asking for help. How solid are your child’s study and test-taking skills?
How to Lend Support
You can support your child entering the college setting in a number of ways. First, be knowledgeable about the rights and responsibilities your child has under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Your child is responsible for using the information. Prior to enrollment, make sure that your child has all the paperwork and documentation needed to obtain services. Once you have gathered the necessary paperwork, make copies and turn it over to your child as the first step toward assuming responsibility (make sure that you keep a copy in a safe place).
Beyond taking care of the paperwork, consider these steps:
- Encourage the development and use of self-advocacy skills;
- Help your child understand their disability;
- Talk about your child’s disability comfortably. Once your child has a class schedule, discuss how their strengths and weaknesses will be affected by each class and what kinds of services they might need in order to be successful;
- Once the semester is underway, ask questions about progress, but remember that your child is ultimately responsible for their success;
- Listen and ask questions when you sense a problem is occurring;
- Realize that the coursework will be more difficult and time-consuming than during high school;
- If your child is living at home, make sure they have a quiet place to study and ample time to finish assignments.
Your child is considered an adult at the age of 18. You will no longer have access to your child’s records unless your child chooses to share information with you. You cannot call the school and get updates on your child.
When requesting documentation from your evaluator, make sure of the following items:
- The information is specific and complete. This will expedite the review of your request.
- The person providing your information should link assessment reports to specific recommendations and reasonable accommodations. We strongly suggest that evaluators offer concrete examples to help support service decisions and recommendations.
- Ask questions of your evaluator if you do not understand your diagnosis or condition. Ask specific questions about why the recommendations are made and how they will help you. The more you understand about your disability, you can help others assist you in your requests.
Students must apply for accommodations every semester. Complete a request form as soon as you enroll for classes, and AT LEAST one month prior to the start of each semester.
Contents of evaluation
- An accurate description of your strengths and weaknesses
- A specific diagnostic statement
- Documentation of previous services
- Documentation of previous assessment results
- A list of all tests used in the evaluation
- An interpretation of the results of all tests (including specific recommendations)
- A specific statement of all areas of deficit and how they affect the individual’s educational settings
- A specific statement of the impact of the disability in adult settings for social interactions and how the individual’s strengths may offset this impact.
- A listing of specific instructional strategies and accommodations the individual requires.
Avila University will make the final determination about your accommodations based on the information provided.