Disability Services Center

Transition Tips for Students

Transition Tips for Students

The transition from high school to college is a time of adjustment for all students, but it can be especially challenging for students with disabilities. The following tips will help you prepare for this exciting transition.

    1. Be able to advocate for yourself- advocacy formerly done by teachers, parents or case managers will now be your responsibility.

    2. Actively participate in your IEP / 504 meetings and transition planning to develop your advocacy skills.

    3. Investigate services available from the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation.

    4. Maintain an ongoing personal file that includes school and medical records, IEPS, resumes, and samples of academic work, recent disability evaluation.

    5. Know your strengths and consider them when choosing your college and in selecting college courses. Be sure to present a positive self-image by stressing strengths, while understanding the influence of the disability.

    6. Have a working understanding of your disability and how it affects your learning; be able to discuss your learning needs and learning style with the Disabled Student Services (DSS) staff and course instructors.

    7. Rehearse your explanation of your disability and need for accommodations with a professional, friend or parent so that you can explain fully to the appropriate people.

    8. Develop personal qualities, such as realistic self-assessment, willingness to take risks and ability to sustain effort.

    9. Develop and use social skills.  Be assertive; not aggressive.

    10. Start the admission process early - do some research on the college you’re choosing, make sure the program fits and find out about prerequisites. Interview the DSS personnel.

    11. Know your disability rights and responsibilities in higher education. Understand that the resource room is a thing of the past and services will not come to you.  You must seek them out. “Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education:  Know Your Rights and Responsibilities”

    12. Understand the difference between modifications and accommodations.

    13. Review your documentation to be certain that it meets the documentation guidelines for the college you plan to attend.

    14. Know how to register for disability services at the college you select and contact the Disability Support office prior to your first semester at college. 

    15. Understand that college is very different from high school in many ways including:

      1. Time management
      2. Being responsible for homework and assignments
      3. Need to study 2 to 3 hours outside of class for each hour in class
      4. Tests will be more demanding in terms of understanding vs. memorization
      5. Test and paper grades provide most of the course grade; extra credit projects and make-up work may not be an option
      6. Effort will not substitute for results.
      7. The importance of using assistive technology, speech to text software if you have difficulty writing, text to speech software as an alternative to books on audiotape; sharpen your computer and word processing skills.


  1. Understand that you have different options for college success. Some students will consider taking a reduced course load the first semester. Other students will take the route of enrolling in a class or two in order to get the “feel” of what college is like. Many colleges have a trimester schedule that allows you to spread your course work out over the full year.

  2. Enroll in the freshman seminar course or study skills course which teaches study skills, time management skills and other college survival skills. Most colleges offer developmental courses that help students strengthen basic academic skills, such as writing or math, in order to be more successful in upper level courses.

  3. Look for opportunities to become involved in college life through clubs, student organizations and service groups. Studies show that students who make these kinds of campus connections are more likely to persist to graduation. BUT plan your time well.

  4. Ask for help when you need it; don’t wait until the ship is sinking to think about bailing out the water. Many colleges offer tutorial support: find out early how to access these services.

  5. Establish realistic goals.  “Play to your strong side."