DO-IT 2-4: A Promising Practice in Supporting Transitions from Two- to Four-Year Colleges

Date Updated

The DO-IT 2-4 project was undertaken by the DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) Center at the University of Washington in Seattle to help students with disabilities in community and technical colleges successfully transition to four-year institutions. It was funded by the US Department of Education through the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (grant #P116B71441).

The learner-centered approach used the Internet, mentoring, internships, and other work experiences to help students increase their independence and productivity and develop self-advocacy and leadership skills. Assistive technology, disability awareness and transition presentations coupled with local planning sessions for coordination of campus support services assisted both students and professionals who support students with disabilities. Project activities served to increase the participation of community and technical college students with disabilities in four-year academic programs, ultimately increasing the pool of qualified people and reducing the unemployment and under-employment of individuals with disabilities.

The DO-IT 2-4 staff undertook a study that used both quantitative and qualitative methods. Staff conducted two surveys and several focus groups to identify concerns and challenges for transfer students with disabilities. One survey collected information from students who were just starting the transition process or who had successfully completed the process. Students were asked, for example, to rate their concerns in transferring from a two-year to a four-year institution using a Likert scale of 1 (not important to me) to 5 (very important to me). A summary of the responses follows.

  • Cost of the program 4.4
  • Skills in self-advocacy 4.1
  • Differences in social life (making new friends) 4.0
  • Availability of educational accommodations 3.9
  • Access to technology 3.9
  • Differences in academic requirements (keeping up with other students academically) 3.7
  • Availability of tutors 3.4

The second survey elicited information from disability services administrators nationwide about the support provided to students with disabilities as they transfer from two-year to four-year institutions. An example of the questions the disabled student services staff were asked would be rating the challenges faced by transfer students with disabilities using a Likert scale from 1 (not very significant) to 5 (very significant. For which the results were:

  • Unprepared to address the differences in academic requirements 3.9
  • Poor study skills 3.7
  • Inadequate pre-college academic preparation 3.6
  • Lacks skills in requesting accommodations and in self-advocacy 3.6
  • Lack of role models and mentors with disabilities 3.5
  • Inadequate financial support 3.5
  • Difficulty in adjusting to the differences in support services 3.5
  • Difficulty in adjusting to the differences in social life 3.4

Postsecondary staff also contributed many suggestions for easing the transition of two-year college students with disabilities to four-year schools. They included having staff from each type of institution become more familiar with other colleges' policies, procedures, programs and services, educating faculty and staff on both types of campuses about disability and transfer issues, standardizing or coordinating policies about acceptable disability-related documentation, having staff from four-year institutions attend two-year college career/transfer fairs to share information about services and programs that are available on their campuses, having four-year schools host separate orientation sessions for students with disabilities, including transfer information for students with disabilities in general and disability-related publications, orientations, and Web sites, working together to develop hand-off systems for individual students with disabilities, and coordinating campus visits between two-year and four-year students with disabilities.

A description of the study and summary of results can be found in an article published in a 2001 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Disability Studies Quarterly. The title is Transition from Two-Year to Four-Year Institutions for Students with Disabilities.

DO-IT 2-4 staff developed a short video and brochure entitled Moving On: The Two-Four Step. Both the video and the brochure highlight tips and suggestions that can be used by students to make a successful transition and by service providers and advocates for helping students with disabilities transition from a community or technical college to a four-year institution.

Other Knowledge Base articles relevant to this topic include: