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College - Transitioning Your Child to College

Preparing for Your Child's College Transition


Updated November 17, 2010

Transitioning Your Child to College

College Transition

All too often, the focus of transitioning your child to college is purely on academics and not independence. Independence is an important goal for your child and for you as a parent learning to let go. If letting go strikes fear in your heart, that's understandable. Transitioning into college is a huge step for any child, and many with and without disabilities do not fare well. Working on your child's independence will help allay your fears and help make your child as prepared as possible for the transition into college.
  • To ease transition into college, teach your child about the ADA and Section 504. Knowing his disability rights will help him become a better advocate for himself in the transition into college.
  • Teach your child how to advocate for himself in college to make transition into college go more smoothly.
  • Organize your child's special education records to ensure you have all the documentation you need for the transition into college.
  • Before your child graduates from high school, ask his counselor, a teacher, or the school psychologist to meet with you both to talk about his disability, his strengths and his weaknesses. Discuss the accommodations he will likely need to be successful in college. Take notes to share with your child's guidance counselor or disability resource counselors in college.
  • Increase your child's chances of success by choosing the right school in the first place. When considering colleges, search their websites for disability resources. Many colleges have disability resource offices with professional staff to manage accommodations for students with disabilities. Read all the information available on the website. Ask your child's high school guidance counselor about area colleges' reputations for serving students with disabilities. Make an appointment with prospective college guidance staff to discuss your questions about accommodations commonly available to students with disabilities. Get a feel for the level of commitment the college has for student success. Use the information you gather in choosing an institution that is more likely to accommodate your child's needs.

    If the college guidance office has no idea what you're talking about or seems unwilling to talk with you about special needs, this may signal that the college is ill-equipped to deal with special needs. Consider looking elsewhere.

  • Understand that while your child's teachers shared in the responsibility for his learning in high school, in college, your child is primarily responsible for his own learning. He will be expected to attend class, complete his work on time, and perform to the professors' standards to succeed. There may be little recourse for him should he not uphold his own responsibilities. Make sure your child understands this.
  • Realize that while you are no longer in control of your child's education, you can still play an advisory role by using these tips to prepare her to advocate for herself, encouraging her to share her concerns about college with you, and being a coach on the sidelines advising her along the way.
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