What advice can be given to a high school student with a disability preparing for college?
Getting to college involves thoughtful preparation. It is important to start as early as your sophomore or junior year in high school.
- Entrance requirements
Call the institutions that you hope to attend to find out about entrance requirements. Talk with teachers and school counselors. Complete this task by the first or second year of high school. If you are not able to meet specific entrance requirements during high school, consider attending a local community college to obtain the course requirements you are lacking.
- High school GPA
The grade point average (GPA) you obtain in high school may be an important entrance consideration at your college of choice. Work hard to earn grades that are as high as possible.
- Precollege examinations
Precollege examination (e.g., SAT, PSAT) scores may be important for acceptance into the college of your choice. Talk to a school counselor or teacher about disability-related test-taking accommodations ahead of time. Appropriate accommodations can help you maximize your efforts and demonstrate your abilities to their fullest when taking an exam. If you earn a lower score than you feel capable of, ask if you can retake the exam.
When sending an application to a postsecondary institution, you are essentially sending a portrait of yourself: your grades, coursework, recommendations, personal goals, and abilities. Take time to present a full, positive picture of yourself. Before you send it to a college, have someone proofread a draft and give you constructive feedback.
Life in college is full of expenses, expected and unexpected. There are resources to assist with and, in some cases, fully cover costs such as tuition, books, rent, lab fees, assistive technology, and application fees. Start early and talk to teachers, counselors, offices of disabled student services, financial aid offices, and undergraduate support programs at institutions you wish to attend.
- Support services
Resources are not the same at each postsecondary institution. Knowing your needs and how they can be met is an important factor in selecting a college. Arranging support services in college can take a lot of time, depending on the services you need and the resources available.
- Transition and orientation
Ask your high school counselor about transition programs that can help prepare you for college. Also find out if the college you've selected offers an orientation program for new students.