Choosing the right college

Choosing the right college can make all the difference for a student with a disability. Here is a list of questions you can ask to help narrow down your list of choices.

Office of Disability Support Services

1. How many staff member work in your office?

2. What are their titles and main roles?

3. How many students at the college receive assistance through the office of disability support?

4. What special training and experience do the staff have?

5. How much experience do your staff have working with students of my disability category?

6. As a student, who would be my primary contact person in the office?

Academic Support

7. Will I be assigned an academic advisor?

8. What individual support will I from my academic advisor?

9. Can an advisor meet on a weekly basis with a student to help them stay on track?

10. Is there a Summer Bridge program for students with learning differences?

11. Are study skills classes/organizational classes available, or required?

12. Are there additional services provided to assist freshmen students with their transition? Mentoring Programs?

13. What tutoring services are available? Where and when? What training do the tutors have?

14. What other academic skills support do you offer (Writing Center? Note takers?)

15. Are these supports offered to all students, or just students with disabilities?

16. Are there extra fees for these supports?

Accommodations

17. What are some common accommodations/services for those students like me?

18. Where and when are accommodations offered (i.e. do you take tests in a small setting with reduced distractions)?

19. How are the professors at the college notified about academic accommodations?

20. What provisions are in place in case an issue occurs with receiving accommodations?

Academic reporting/Grades

21. How do students track their grades?

22. Are midterm grades the first reported?

23. Are academic alerts available for the student and support department?

24. Does the academic advisor have access to the student’s grades, and have the ability to reach out to the various departments to assist in support?

Health/Counseling Services/Policies

25. What types of housing accommodations or options are available on campus?

26. Roommate finders for compatibility?

27. Do you coordinate with housing services to instruct/ identify certain needs of students?

28. Do you work closely with a counseling department if a student is experiencing anxiety, or health issues?

29. What health services are available on campus?

30. How many staff members, and are they available full time?

31. What types of community resources are near the college that may be helpful to me? (Medical facilities, psychological services, pharmacies)

32. Are they within walking distance?

Special Considerations/Attendance Policy

33. Have extensions been given to students who need to miss a deadline based on a medical need?

34. If an essay is due, would professors accept it later due to a student being ill, preventing the student from completing the work on time?

35. Are there provisions made for having to miss classes based on the nature of a particular disability or medical condition?

36. Is the attendance policy set by the school, or by each professor?

37. Can the attendance of a student be noted in the accommodations due to medical reasons, for consideration of support?

Substitutions/Academic Rigor

38. Are substitutions available for particular required courses at the college if they are needed based on the specific nature of a disability? (Substitutions for required world language courses, math)

39. How would you describe the academic rigor of the school, and how do your students manage it?

40. Math can be a challenge for some students, what classes do you offer for those students?

41. Do you transfer in community college credits in areas that a student might otherwise find to be a higher level of difficulty?

Department Improvements/Challenges

42. What additional improvements would you like to see for your department?

43. What are the challenges of your department?

44. What new changes do you see ahead for your department?

45. Do you provide information about the graduation rate and or retention rate for students served by the office of disability services?

46. What have you learned from past experience, that helps determine the success of your supported students?

47. What sets your disability services apart from other colleges and/or universities?

48. Why does your college/university offer me the best chance to be successful in school and beyond?

About speak45_wp

I graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in 1990 with a Bachelor’s in Special Education, and again in 1991 with a Master’s in Behavior Disorders. From 1991 to 2004, I worked as an Emotional Support Teacher in Southeast Pennsylvania. In July, 2004, upon graduation from Penn State University, I began working as a Pennsylvania Supervisor of Special Education until, shortly after my family and I moved to Maryland in October, 2013. In my 25 years of experience, I have: worked with students of varying ages and disabilities; participated in hundreds of IEP meetings; successfully implemented individualized services for thousands of students; and participated in dozens of due process cases. As a result, I am very familiar with the public education Special Education system policies, procedures, and services; as well as the potential road blocks parents may encounter in search for those services. In addition to my professional experience, I am also the father of two boys on the Autistic Spectrum. I know all too well what it feels like to: receive that diagnosis for the first time; work to learn all that you can about your child’s unique learning needs; try and educate and motivate school staff; passionately advocate for services (FAPE); get over emotional in IEP meetings; and fight vehemently with the school system to get the services you feel that your child deserves.

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