Transitioning to college can seem like a daunting task for students with disabilities and their families, but with some thoughtful planning and considering individual roles ahead of time can help!
College Student Roles (or questions to ask your college student):
- Know you! What are your strengths? What are your limitations? What things have helped or been a barrier? Be able to identify what works and what doesn’t.
- Attend orientation/campus events (yes, even remote ones during COVID). Find information regarding campus groups/activities that support your interests and/or disability impacts.
- Accommodations initiate with the student once you are over the age of 18 or attending college. Family members can be present for intake sessions, but you, as the student, are the key person in the process! What questions do you have? Bring them to the intake!
- On that note, even if you don’t think you may need accommodations, meet with Disability Services! Establish accommodations early!
- College students are responsible for their own study and organizational skills, but don’t have to go it alone. Time management, organization and general study skills take on an even greater importance. The Macalester Academic Excellence Center (MAX Center) is available to assist students in gaining these skills, as is tutoring.
- Review class expectations and read the syllabus. Professors and classes may differ regarding attendance requirements, assignments due dates, and exam dates.
- Know your professor. Faculty have different teaching styles that differ, but getting to know your professors for what learning they can offer outside of the class is important.
- College staff can’t talk with family members about a student’s academic activities unless given prior authorization by you as an adult learner.
Parent/Family Member Roles:
- Your role may have changed from one of advocate, manager, supporter, and activity coordinator to support for your adult learner. Expect connection ebb and flow from your student. We ask students to be the primary attendees at any meetings.
- Assist your student with providing information on disability or documentation of your student’s disability(ies). Refer to documentation information.
- Listen to your student about concerns and help them develop self-advocacy skills and articulating their disability(ies). What are their strengths and barriers to learning?
- Help your student identify issues and problem solve next steps, not solve problems for them. Where can they look for information?
- Specialized medical care, therapy or additional support services may be required outside of what is available at Macalester.
- Remember that students are responsible for notifying the Disability Services office of their disability(ies) and following the appropriate processes. We want your student to be successful as an adult!
- Differences Between K-12 & Higher Education has in-depth information and resources.
- Preparing Students with Disabilities for Post secondary Education: Resource Guide for use with school staff
- DO-IT College Transition Help and Finding the Right Campus
- Letter to Parents from Jane Jarrow (PDF)
- Going-to-College.org is designed to assist high school students with disabilities in their transition to college.
- The College: Continuing and Higher Education webpage from Wrightslaw.com is designed to assist students in all stages of the college planning process.
- The College and College Prep webpage from LD Online provides information specifically for students with Learning Disabilities who are transitioning to college.
- And finally, a great read for all transitioning students: “The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College” by Harlan Cohen. Consider this your textbook for the first year of college; a candid guide to confronting transition issues.