» Transitioning from High School to College

Transitioning from High School to College

Disability Services

The differences between high school and college-level accommodations can sometime surprise students. Below is a summary of some of the major differences you will find related to disability assistance.

Identification vs. Registration
In high school the school district identifies students with disabilities. In college you are responsible to self-report and register your disability(ies).

Family Involvement vs. Privacy
In high school, information is shared with your family members or guardians. In college, students’ rights and confidentiality are taken seriously and strictly upheld.

Teachers vs. Professors
High schools alert instructors to a student’s special needs. Given the strict confidentiality of student records on the college campus, it is the student’s responsibility to notify faculty of their disability(ies) and provide documentation.

Structure vs. Autonomy
In college students manage their own time and are responsible for knowing relevant deadlines for assignments. Likewise, you will spend less time physically in class, but out-of-class research and preparation is self-directed. These differences can challenge many students—with or without disabilities. College students are solely responsible for adequate preparation for assignments and exams, as well as seeking out the academic assistance they need to be successful.

Legal Differences
Many students transitioning to college assume that the laws pertaining to accommodation for students with disabilities are the same on campus as they were in high school. This notion is inaccurate and can create stress for students if they do not plan ahead. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is not in effect in higher education. Colleges do not have a legal responsibility to identify student with disabilities. There are no Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) in college. As a new student at Elmhurst College, it is your responsibility to be tested and provide the appropriate documentation for accommodations.

For your information: A Point-by-Point Comparison (pdf)


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