educational articles
Educational Articles

Preparing for College: The Online Guide for Students with Disabilities

Disabled Student

For students with disabilities, preparing for college can be a great challenge. The transition from a high school environment to a college is drastic. For one thing, the college of choice may be located far from home. Thus, it's important to gather as much information as possible before choosing a college. Fortunately, there are many resources on the Internet that can help students with disabilities make a decision.

Choosing a College or University

Selecting the right college can be a daunting task, so students should look at the various options available to them. The college should enable students to enhance their skills and talents, and students should be able to develop a personalized curriculum to suit their needs.

Another important consideration is that the campus has accommodations for people with disabilities. Each campus varies on its level of appropriate accommodations, so students and families should check to see if it suits them. Colleges usually have a point of contact or an office that they can be in touch with regard to their facilities. Some colleges provide special attention with physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and also medical support. Independence training to some extent will also be provided so that students gain confidence to live on their own in the future.

The internet provides a wealth of learning opportunities for people with disabilities.  The internet can be especially useful for students so intimidated by the idea of a changed lifestyle that comes with attending college in the physical sense.  An effective approach may be to undertake college one step at a time rather than full immersion.

For example, earning an online associate degree in liberal arts might give the student a feel for the work of college in the comfort of home.  Liberal arts may not be the desired field of study but many liberal arts classes transfer as elective credits toward a degree in a more desired subject, such a math, science, or language arts.

Once an online associate degree has been accomplished, move up to bachelors and then perhaps MBA online programs for business-minded individuals or an online masters degree in mathematics for those of a scientific mind.

It often happens that someone affected by a disability, directly or indirectly, chooses to achieve a degree in special education, which qualifies them to work with individuals experiencing the same or similar disabilities.  An ideal way to advance such a degree is with online PsyD programs that train graduate students to orchestrate research projects, teach, or administer benefits to others.

  • Surviving Higher Education: The page explores some of the difficulties faced by students with learning disability in pursuing higher education.
  • Guideline: The State of Virginia offers a guideline for students with disabilities covering such topics like choosing a college, financial aid, responsibilities, and more.
  • University of Michigan: The Services for Students with Disabilities offers a lot of resources for UM students.
  • University of Connecticut: The Center for Students with Disabilities provides information on accommodations, programs, events, and more.
  • University of Houston: The Center for Students with DisABILITIES offers support and resources to help students cope with campus life.
  • Northwestern University: The Services for Students with Disabilities provides essential information for students and faculty.
  • Binghamton University: The Services for Students with Disabilities offers information on disability parking, academic support, disability documentation, voter registration, and so on.

Financial Aid Opportunities

The cost of college education for a student with disability is quite high, and it varies depending on equipment and support required. Colleges have a financial aid office to help out with loans and scholarships. Federal Student Aid programs are provided by the US Department of Education every year. Supplemental Security income is a monthly benefit for the lower income group and it will be provided based on the disability, varying from state to state. Each state also has a State Vocational Rehabilitation Services department which helps people with disabilities to find employment to support them. In addition, there are other scholarships and awards for the disabled as well.

  • FinAid: The page provides financial aid information for students with disabilities covering loans, scholarships, savings, and more.
  • College Funding: The University of Washington offers some financial aid avenues for students with disabilities.
  • Financial Aid: The article highlights the challenges of obtaining financial aid for students with disabilities.
  • FAFSA: The official site of Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Understanding Your Rights

Disabled Student

A disabled student has the right to receive education from a college with appropriate adjustments made, to accommodate him/her. There should not be any discrimination or rejection on the basis of the disability. However, the college is not obliged to provide free education. It's not necessary to specify the disability while applying for admission unless special accommodations have to be made. Any aids or modifications to ensure equal education opportunities should be made by the institution like easy registration, sign language interpreter, changing course or reducing load. It is important to be aware of your rights before entering the college.

Disability Associations and Organizations

A number of organizations provide support and information on college education for the disabled. Some state specific organizations like the vocational rehabilitation center could help with aids. Minnesota State Services for the Blind, AHEAD, and HEATH are a few such organizations. In addition, colleges may have offices that provide assistance exclusively for the disabled. Some colleges have special riding classes and clubs for the disabled.

  • HEATH: An excellent resource center dedicated to students with disabilities.
  • LDA: The official site of the Learning Disabilities of America.
  • AG Bell: The homepage of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
  • AHEAD: The Association on Higher Education and Disability provides resources, programs, publications, and other information.

Colleges & Universities with Special Programs

  • StFX Program: The St. Francis Xavier University provides information on the special program for students with disabilities.
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