Differences Between High School and College Disability Services

The transition from high school to college is exciting, and it can also be a challenging time for any student. For students with disabilities, this process can become more stressful due to several changes in disability services. However, when students are informed and prepared, their transition is easier.

Laws that govern services for students with disabilities in high school vary greatly from those that protect students in college. All students with disabilities in a university setting are protected under the ADAAA (Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These laws protect the civil rights of individuals with disabilities and ensure equal access to education. And while equal access does not mean equal success, planning ahead for these differences will be helpful.

The role of the student also changes upon entering college. Students must take an active role in self-advocacy and seeking disability services. To find out more please visit our Student's Responsibilities page.

  • When entering college, students must self-identify to the Office of Disability Services by providing the appropriate documentation.
  • Once students are determined to be eligible for services, they must make a Registration appointment with a DS counselor in order to discuss accommodations.
  • Students are responsible for informing their instructors of their accommodations.
  • Students are also expected to follow the necessary steps in order to receive the approved accommodations. Please visit our Accommodations page for more information.
  • Unlike elementary school and high school, IEP’s and 504 Plans are not part of the process in providing services to students with disabilities once in college.
  • The University does not provide services that are “personal in nature.” There are many services that are offered in high school that fall into this category that are not appropriate in college.

The US Department of Education acts as a great resource for students interested in learning more about disability services and the transition from high school to college. Their website offers the following article to assist in the process:  Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities