What challenges do students with disabilities face as they transition from two-year to four-year colleges?

Date Updated

Students with disabilities report special challenges in making a successful transition from two- to four-year schools. One hundred nineteen students with disabilities from nineteen two-year colleges in Washington participated in a survey conducted by DO-IT. Their top concerns about transferring to a four-year institution were in the following categories:

  • Differences in disabled student services
  • Inadequate financial support
  • The transferring process
  • Housing/transportation
  • Personal/family issues
  • Differences in academic requirements

Professionals who work with postsecondary students with disabilities report the following range of challenges students with disabilities encounter that negatively impact successful transition to four-year schools:

  • Differences in academic requirements
  • Poor study skills
  • Inadequate self-advocacy skills
  • Inadequate academic preparation
  • Financial support
  • Lack of mentors with disabilities
  • Differences in disabled student services

A total of forty-six faculty and staff from two- and four-year institutions of higher education from twenty-four states who participated in focused discussions of these issues also reported that transfer students face challenges in the following areas:

  • Moving away from home
  • Understanding and working through the transfer process
  • Securing financial support
  • Meeting the admissions requirements of the four-year institutions and specific degree programs
  • Adjusting to differences in disability documentation requirements
  • Adjusting to differences in the disabled student services offered
  • Adjusting to a larger, less personal environment where it is more difficult to make friends and get to know faculty
  • Meeting the academic standards of the four-year school

For more specifics, consult Moving On: The Two-Four Step or view the video by the same title.