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Differences Between High School and College: How Does Disability Factor In??

Posted in Effective College Planning by admin on the May 6th, 2007
High School College
    Free and mandatory education (entitlement)
    Tuition and admissions criteria (eligibility)
    Full time day attendance
    Student may attend full (typically 4-5 courses or 12-15 credit hours) or part time.
    36 weeks of instruction per course
    16 weeks of instruction per course
    Daily contact with teachers;more feedback.
    Less contact with faculty; less individual feedback; more academic competition.
    Parent/teacher conferences
    Student must communicate with faculty and other campus personnel as needed
    Transportation is provided
    Student responsible for transportation
    Traditional classrooms
    Traditional classroom plus on-line courses, hybrid courses and telecourses
    Teachers trained in teaching methods
    Professors trained in their specific knowledge area e.g., English, Accounting, etc.
    Teachers remind students about tests and assignments
    Professors expect the student to read and refer to the course syllabus in addition to lectures.
    School and parents monitor progress
    Student monitors progress
    Teachers identify potential needs
    Students must recognize when they need assistance and request it
    Grades are based on homework and numerous assignments
    Final grades are based upon only 2-3 exams or projects
    May be expected to write a research paper
    Will be expected to complete more major writing assignments.
    Small class size and daily access to teacher
    Classes may exceed 100 students and typically has access to professors only during office hours
    School sets student schedule
    Student sets schedule and manages time; a critical skill in completing course requirements.
    Teacher provides information when absent student
    Student seeks notes from another when absent
    Teachers use multiple formats for instruction
    Most courses rely heavily on lecture format for instruction.
    Teachers may emphasize memorization of facts.
    More emphasis is placed on understanding theory and critical thinking rather than memorization of facts.
    May be able to turn in hand written assignments.
    Assignments are expected to be done on the computer.
    Work is completed independently.
    Group assignments/projects may be assigned more frequently.
    Goal = success
    Goal =Equal Access
    Students needs are identified by the school
    Student must voluntarily self- identify disability/needs
    School has responsible to identify students and assessment of disability
    Documentation of disability- student’s responsibility
    Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
    Academic adjustments, modifications, services and accommodations
    Parent advocates for student
    Student advocates for self
    Committee on Special Education (CSE)
    No “team” meeting approach ensuring success
    Assistance is centrally located, typically in resource room
    Student has access to a wealth of resources and must determine and be responsible for seeking out assistance when needed.
    Individualized modifications or waivers of academic requirements as per IEP
    Essential course requirements are not modified or waived
    School responsibility to provide special education and related services in the least restrictive environment
    Student must request accommodations; may choose to use all, some, or none of the accommodations.
    School professionals and parents determine and related services; self-advocate student has little input into process
    Students are adults and are expected to academic program
    Extended time provided for assignments
    Assignment due dates are not altered
    Testing arrangements made by teacher
    Testing arrangements facilitated by student
    Make up tests available
    Make up tests are seldom available
    Spelling waivers are common
    Spelling is not waived and use of spell check may or may not be provided.
    Modification of test format is common
    Modification of test is rare
    Use of live readers for testing purposes
    Technology is more often utilized than live readers
    Use of a scribe
    May use scribes or technology
    Teacher provided copy of notes
    Peer copy of notes
    Tutoring and resource room as part of IEP
    Tutoring and study support may be available but are not provided as accommodations; private tutors are hired at the student’s/family’s expense
    Foreign language waived
    Foreign language is often required for 4 year degree. Course substitutions must be based on genuine, not perceived, need and must be supported by documentation and history of difficulty with language. If determined that foreign language is an essential requirement of a program of study or is a NYS certification requirement (ex. Teaching) it cannot be waived but some alternate method of skill acquisition may be approved (ex. Study abroad).

Knowledge Acquisition in College:

  • Ability to comprehend print information is fundamental.

  • Critical thinking and writing skills are essential.
  • Competent computer skills are expected.
  • Study skills including effectively taking/using class notes are essential.
  • Ability to compare, contrast, apply and transfer information is critical.
  • Ability to apply information from one course to another is essential.
  • Effective communication in written, oral or alternate means is more important.
  • Students are responsible for monitoring their own progress and are responsible for seeking additional help when needed.
  • Students are responsible for their course schedules and assignments which include arranging testing accommodations. i.e. plan time for extended time!
  • Class preparation, attendance, attention and participation all impact performance=grades.

Stress in College

  • Behavior problems are not tolerated. All students must comply with the college’s Code of Conduct. Violation of Code of Conduct can result in expulsion from the institution.
  • Continuing to receive federal, state or scholarship financial aid is dependent on grades.
  • More students on campus; more students with disabilities on campus
  • More social activities.
  • Student might assume that the college environment may be impersonal because no one person or office is following up on how they are doing in college. However, students need to understand that they have to realize when they need information, help or some type of assistance AND initiate contact with someone (e.g., an resident assistant, professors, advisor) or an office (e.g., Financial Aid, Housing, Food Service) to ask for assistance.
  • More personal freedom can result in new and/or increased social pressures.
  • Increased workload and faster pace.
  • It is more difficult to earn high grades.
  • Students are expected to know what they want from college, classes, life, etc.
  • Students need to be able to juggle assignments, job responsibilities, family responsibilities, plus any sports, activities, etc.

Cost Accommodations and Services:

Section 504 and the ADA require colleges to provide necessary accommodations and services at no cost to eligible students with disabilities. Colleges are NOT required to provide the Cadillac of services; they are required to provide EFFECTIVE accommodations that allow the student to have equal access to the programs, services and activities of the institution. Colleges make decisions about the nature and extent of reasonable accommodations on a case-by-case basis. As long as the provided accommodation is effective, the college has the right of final choice—which includes refusing requests which are not reasonable or necessary. The funding sources for these services include, but are not limited to: college budgets, grants, rehabilitation agencies such as the VESID, CBVH, and/or other local support agencies. The College is NOT required to provide personal assistance aides, equipment or services such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, personal care aides etc. One common form of assistance that is NOT generally an accommodation is tutoring which is considered under the law in the same category as personal assistance similar to an aide or a wheelchair.

Colleges may request or recommend that students apply to VESID, CBVH, the Veterans Administration etc. but cannot refuse services to students who do not apply or who are denied by these agencies. Students must apply directly to such agencies to determine if they are eligible for sponsorship to college. Please see the directory of agencies at the back of this booklet. Again, it is crucial for students to contact these offices/agencies early in college planning to arrange for services.

  • Students are more independent and are accountable for their behavior both in class and out, including dorms and extracurricular activities.
  • Increased number of choices and decisions to be made.
  • More independent reading and studying are required.
  • Students are responsible for time management.
  • Students establish and attain their own goals.
  • Students are more responsible to whomever is paying for their education.
  • Students must be motivated to succeed.
  • Students are responsible for independently completing assignments and handing them in on time.
  • More self-evaluation — accepting responsibility for all of the decisions you make. For example, knowing when to seek help from a professor outside of class, utilizing accommodations before you fail an exam, using tutoring at the first sign of trouble (not just when you are failing a class), starting assignments sooner rather than later, seeking help on a paper well before it’s due.

(Adapted from Claire E. Weinstein, Professor, Educational Psychology Karalee Johnson, Robert Malloch, Scott Ridley, Paul Schultz, Graduate Students, Educational Psychology)

Self Advocacy

What is self advocacy for a college student with a disability? It is the ability to assume responsibility and management for one’s self, including disability, without being dependent on others.

Two critical elements of self advocacy are independent decision making and the ability to express one’s needs. How can you become an effective independent decision maker and effectively express your needs on a college campus? Consider the following:

Know yourself:

  • What are your personal strengths in terms of abilities, interests, and skills?
  • What are your weaknesses in terms of abilities and skills? Consider completing CCDA’s “Student Self Assessment” which includes questions about the following areas: student information, academic preparation, study skills, social skills, basic life skills, and self-care skills. This assessment can be found at http://www.ccdanet.org/ecp/collegesuccess/student_self_assess/. Once you get a sense of the areas you need to work on improving, ask your parents, teachers, and guidance counselors for help on what you can do to learn more about the area.
  • What are your future goals? Career goals? Where are you heading? Are those goals realistic?

Know your disability:

  • You must be able to explain to someone else what your disability is and the impact of your disability in the classroom, on tests, and outside of the classroom.
  • You have to know what compensation skills work best for you including the use of technology.
  • You have to be able to articulate what accommodations work well for you.
  • You have to know when you need help, know who to ask for help (e.g., the Disability Services staff or other college staff), and appropriately ask for help in a timely manner.

Know your rights and responsibilities as a college student:

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ADA of 1990, individuals with disabilities have certain rights that provide access to a college education. A good resource you can use to learn more about your rights and responsibilities is “Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities” which can be found in the ADDITIONAL RESOURCES section of this publication, pages 112-117

Since identification is voluntary and confidential, and Student Disability Services staff need documentation of a disability, the student should contact the Student Disability Services office early. The student should not wait until he is feeling desperate or is failing; it may be too late for the Student Disability Services staff to effectively intervene. It is also important to know that accommodations are arranged from the time of request forward; there is no legal obligation to provide accommodations retroactively to remediate situations such as failing tests or courses if there was no notification of disability previous to the event.

Academic Skills:

A student must be able, with or without accommodation, to demonstrate competence in reading comprehension, writing, math and all other required skills at the level necessary to meet the essential requirements for the academic program. If a skill or course is fundamental to the course, academic program or is a requirement for NYS certification or licensure, it cannot be waived.

Time Management:

Most instructors expect students to spend at least 3 hours outside of class doing class related tasks for every hour spent in class; therefore, a student who is registered for 12 credit hours should be spending a minimum of 36 hours per week outside of class doing assignments and preparing for classes. Often students with disabilities need to spend considerably more time than this to be successful. Consider your disability and accommodation needs and, if appropriate, plan more time to complete the degree requirements. Attending college is a fulltime job. If you cannot make the commitment at this time, you may want to consider enrolling parttime or attending college at a later date.

Independent Living skills

One topic that is frequently overlooked when discussing college readiness skills is life outside the classroom. Some students live on campus in dorms or apartments. Some live at home and commute to campus. Regardless of where you live every college student needs to know how to take care of himself from getting up in the morning, eating and getting to class, doing laundry, cleaning personal space, following a budget, managing time and handling relationships with others.

Let’s talk about life away from home. Many colleges require freshman students to live on campus in dormitories. The theory behind this is to allow each student an opportunity to fully immerse herself in the college experience while living in a safe, secure environment. Living in a communal dorm which involves sharing a space with one, or possibly several roommates, establishing and maintaining study habits, eating, sleeping and participating in college activities can talk a toll on any student. It can be especially difficult for a student with a disability who is even more accustomed to having a parent manage time, diet, medications, sleep, transportation, personal safety etc. That first taste of personal freedom is the pitfall that causes the 40% of incoming freshmen we discussed earlier, to falter. Students and parents, use the Self Assessment Survey pages 65-68 to start a discussion on existing and emerging skills. Each of you fill out the survey and then compare notes. That dialogue will help you identify areas specific to your life and needs that need to be addressed.

A final note about personal safety: students with disabilities, especially those with lifelong disabilities, are often accustomed to having a parent, teacher, aide, sibling etc. with them most of the time. Do not think I am saying the individuals with disabilities are helpless. We’re not. But we are often thoughtless about our own safety because we have learned to rely on others.

There has been an increase in violence in our world and on our campuses and all students, including students with disabilities, need to be aware of themselves, where they are, where their possessions are and routinely employ safety measures. Carry your keys in your hand. Don’t flash money or expensive clothing or technology around. If you take medications, keep track of how much you have and store it in a secure location. Be careful of internet social networking sites. If a situation doesn’t feel right, get out. No one is encouraging fear, but rather common sense. If you think something is wrong or you have a problem talk to the Resident Advisor, Security, faculty member, DSS person, Dean of Students, etc., to voice your concern.