Perhaps the most important concept to understand about the difference between secondary and postsecondary education is the difference between entitlement and eligibility. At the college level, education is no longer a right or an entitlement, but a matter of eligibility. The Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act of 2008 states:
A Qualified Person with a Disability is:
An individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices, the removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers, or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs or activities provided by a public entity.
Applying this definition to postsecondary education, in order for a student to be accepted at the college of her choice, she must, with or without reasonable accommodations, meet the entry level admissions criteria for that institution, which are established for all potential students by the college. Then she must also meet the admission program requirements for the academic program she wishes to study.
One of the most confusing issues for parents and students alike when considering college options is the importance of the type of diploma that the student receives at high school graduation. A Regents diploma, a local diploma, an Advanced Regents diploma or a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) will fulfill the diploma requirements of any college in New York State (NYS). An Individualized Education Diploma (IEP diploma) does not. Earning an IEP diploma means that the student did not meet the NYS requirements for a Regents or local diploma and therefore he is not a high school graduate.
If a student is applying to a college that requires that all applicants hold a high school diploma or GED in order to be considered for admission (4-year colleges and universities have this requirement), and he earned an IEP diploma, he does not meet the admissions eligibility for that college and will not be accepted. Not all community colleges or other junior colleges require a high school diploma for admissions. Many have various kinds of high school equivalency diploma programs. Some of those programs carry college degree credits that can also be applied toward an Associateís Degree, and some carry no degree credit. Your best advice is to contact your local community college to discuss their requirements and your young adultís eligibility.