What kinds of colleges are there for kids who are in need of advocacy and accommodations in their early school years, and how can parents be best prepared for this years ahead of the fact?
As a parent of a child of a with special needs or a student who is looking for information about college as an exceptional student, it is is never too early to plan for college.
Okay, maybe if you are an enterprising three-year-old, you should enjoy your coloring books and not be reading this website, but otherwise let’s get planning for your college and successful career.
First things first, have you downloaded our education mapping guide?
It is completely free and chock full of a great scaffold for planning each school year. As the summer approaches, this is an excellent guide and helpmate for achieving all your goals.
How Your Child Can Prepare and Identify their Needs for College
1. College preparation goes beyond school
Establish good relationships with your counselors and teachers for recommendations and advice.Make a habit of going the extra mile and being a good and diligent student. This goes beyond just academics. Be memorable in your politeness and kindness to other students and the faculty and staff of your school.
2. Begin researching early
This is particularly relevant for students with particular accommodations or special needs. Find out which colleges would and would not work for your exceptionality. If you have a physical disability, look for campuses that may be a bit smaller and easily navigable.
I have known certain schools that have classes about a mile apart on a very large campus, and students that have arrived at class consistently 10-15 minutes late due to lack of appropriate accommodations.
Speaking of accommodations …
3. Keep fastidious records of accommodations received
Accommodations and laws change when a student enrolls in a university and fall under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) as opposed to IDEA/504.
Often universities look to the reasonableness of the request for accommodation, and what do they look to?
This will often be the accommodations and modifications that students have been using throughout high school that have made them successful. This means you have to use your accommodations and keep records of using them and list what happens when you don’t use them (if you slipped one or two times).
Begin speaking with current college students, parents of current collegians, experts, college admissions officers and anyone who will talk to you about your potential college. I think this step can’t be overemphasized. Too often students pick their university solely on prestige and perhaps location. This becomes particularly problematic for special needs students because the bureaucracy and willingness to accommodate shift wildly from campus to campus — there is no uniformity in accommodations.
You must begin reaching out and speaking to actual students, speak to heads of alternative learning programs in universities and find allies who are already in university settings that can warn you about the pitfalls earlier rather than later.
It is far more important for your student (or you) to graduate with good grades and on time at a lesser known school, than struggle for a long time with bad grades at an extremely well-known school.
When you look at schools, make sure you speak not to just the tour guides provided, but with students with special needs or exceptionalities.
Ask “How does this school facilitate success?” or “How are you accommodated?” and “Do you feel stigmatized or are your studies impacted by your difference?”
These are just a few basic steps to fill in your educational map and narrow down those college choices. Do you have any amazing planning tips? Let us know in the comments!