Is the disability support services provided in college the same as those in high school?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

Is the disability support services provided in college the same as those in high school?

Jane McClure
Partner McClure, Mailory & Baron Educational Counseling

Is the disability support services provided in college the same as those in high school?

Here is my video response to the question.

Christina Reynolds
Guidance Counselor

Support Services in College

The disability support services provided in colleges differ quite a bit depending on the college. Many students with disabilities have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) which follows them through high school and helps the student reach their educational goals more easily than they otherwise would. After the student graduates high school and moves on to college they can submit their IEP to the DSS office to see if they can receive the same accomodations but colleges are not required to offer them. There are many colleges that offer structured and proactive programs for students with learning disabilities, some of these programs are similar to what the student received in high school but there is often a fee associated with these programs. The best way to find out about the support offered by the college is to ask. Contact the Disability Support Services office and talk to them about your situation, they should be able to give you a good idea of what they can offer.

Lisa Carlton

How To Access College Disability Services

No! Many students and parents are confused about this issue. Disability Support Services in college are different from high school. Colleges do not use IEP's or 504's. Don't let this discourage you. I find many of my students get great services in college. The key is to understand the process to follow to access the services. The first step to accessing services is to have up to date testing that clearly states your diagnosis and needed accommodations. The testing must be done in the last three years. The next step is to complete the needed paperwork to apply for services. The Disability Support office will review your documents and determine what services and accommodations are offered to you. It is important to note that some colleges are more "disability friendly" than others. Find out about this process when you are considering colleges. A strong Disability Support Services office can greatly enhance your experience in college.

็Ž‹ๆ–‡ๅ› June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

not the same and don't compare it

there is a big difference in pulic and private high schools in supporting disability. therefore, you should expect the different in private college and public institutions. none of them are the same. it has a lot to do with funding resources, college's policy and support from the local and government agencies.

Tam Warner Minton
Consultant College Adventures

DSS in College

There are big differences. In high school, IDEA's responsibility is to "provide a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment to eligible students with disabilities, including special education and related services". IDEA does not govern college, only high school. The American Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to college aged students. The ADA ensures that "no otherwise qualified person with a disability is denied access to, benefits of, or is subjected to discrimination in employment, education, or places of public accommodations". In other words, public high schools must provide the necessary services to guarantee LD students an education. Colleges do not have to provide services beyond the ADA requirements. High schools seek to give their students what it takes for them to succeed, colleges provide an equal opportunity to participate. In college, there is no "right" to an education. The student must provide the college with appropriate documentation to request accommodations, the student must be their own advocate, and there is no "due process" because the college does not have to give you the tools you need. If you are an LD student, be careful when choosing a college, make sure the college has appropriate services for what you need. Here is a website to clarify matters:

Rana Slosberg
Owner Slosberg College Solutions LLC

College Disability Services are Different

Some accommodations provided in high school may not be provided in college. IEPs and 504 plans "expire" when students graduate high school. In college, the law doesn't require accommodations that fundamentally alter the essential requirements of a course, the college to change their core curriculum, or for the college to provide assistance that is personal in nature. The focus in college is on avoiding discrimination and on making students into independent learners through assistive technology and/or compensatory strategies.

Corey Fischer
President CollegeClarity

That depends...

Many colleges have far better support services for students than most high schools, but that does not mean all do. It is very much a case by case situation. You need to look closely at the services provided by the colleges you are considering. If you need a more comprehensive program it might be smart to hire a consultant to help you. It can become overwhelming to navigate and a consultant who knows about LD services will know which colleges have better programs. There are not actually a lot of colleges with the highest level, most thorough services.

Mary Mariani

Is the disability support services provided in college the same as those in high school?

No they are not. Some of the services are better and some not so. But each college has to have services for students with disabilities. Students have to seek out the services. It is not like high school where students are identified, and then the system makes sure that the services are provided. In the college setting, the student has to be his/her own advocate. Most students should have an active IEP or 504 Plan that started way before entrance into a college/university program. I did find that the Missouri State University in Springfield was excellent. My own son has learning disabilities and had an IED (Individual Education Plan) since he was in elementary school. The school administration was very helpful in assisting him in getting what was needed. BUT, I worked very closely with the learning disability lab and staff (of course with my son's permission). It is not difficult to get longer time and testing in a quieter environment or modifications made for students who have visual or hearing disabilities. But again, the student has to either be his/her own advocate or have someone who will advocate for him/her.

Renee Boone
The College Advisor

Is the disability support services provided in college the same as those in high school?

Not all services offered at the colleges are the same. For a decent comprehensive guide, check out the K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Disabilities. You might want to familiarize yourself with the excellent programs offered by Landmark College in Putney, VT, including their 2-year undergraduate program, their transitional program for high school students and their visiting college students semester program. Other colleges, including U Arizona, U Denver, Curry MA and Muskingam OH offer specialized programs to support learning differences. It is imperative that you are proactive and self-advocating in seeking help both in admissions and while a student on the campus.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Is the disability support services provided in college the same as those in high school?

In terms of learning differences, accommodations provided are largely the same. Students with documentation are able to gain needed accommodations for both classroom and test settings. But, the overall philosophy and emphasis is different. High schools support students by helping them to gain understanding about their learning style. Colleges presume that students know themselves and are prepared to self advocate.