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College & Adult Education

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College graduates usually earn more than high school graduates. If you are interested in college or have a special skill in any of the subjects that you studied in high school, you should explore options for college or other higher education. Attending a college, university or vocational school is a major life decision for any student—consideration of options and planning your future should start early. If you have a significant disability, this decision may seem overwhelming at times. The following information is designed to help you decide which path is right for you.

Is College Right for You?

Why Go to College?

  • To see life from a different view and have new experiences
  • To explore what you want to do with your life
  • To pursue a particular interest or vocational goal
  • To qualify for jobs that pay more
  • To stay among friends who are going to college

Academic Life in College

  • Classes meet less often and for fewer hours
  • Entire courses completed in 16 weeks or less
  • Relies on earlier learning in high school
  • Instruction mainly by lecture
  • Independent reading assignments in addition to lectures
  • More emphasis on understanding theory
  • Using the library effectively more important
  • Less contact with instructors
  • Less individual feedback
  • More academic competition
  • New and increased social pressures

Learning in College

  • Paying attention in class and taking good notes are important.
  • Identifying and comprehending main ideas are important.
  • Effective study and communication skills are important.
  • Students must track their own progress and recognize any need for help.

Grading in College

  • Harder work is required for an A or B; C is an average grade.
  • Expect major writing assignments.
  • Exam questions may be difficult to predict and essay exams may be common.
  • Semester grades may be based on just two or three paper and test scores.

Responsibility in College

  • Students are independent and accountable for their behavior both in class and out, including dorms and extracurricular activities. The many choices and decisions to be made require self-evaluation and accepting responsibility. Behavior problems are not tolerated.
  • Students must establish and attain their own goals and must be motivated to succeed.
  • Students are responsible for time management. More independent reading and studying are required. Students are responsible for independently completing assignments and handing them in on time.
  • There is no resource room—students must be independent and seek assistance when needed.
  • Students have a responsibility to whoever is paying for their education.

Stress in College

  • There are many students on campus and many social activities, but the environment may seem impersonal.
  • Students are expected to know what they want from college, classes, life, etc.
  • The workload and pace are increased.
  • Student must juggle assignments, job and family responsibilities, plus any sports, activities, etc.
  • It is more difficult to earn high grades.

Support and Accommodations in College

  • Most colleges have a disability office and can provide the accommodations that you need to pursue higher education. Accommodations are designed to allow students with a disability to participate in a course or program. In other words, students with disabilities are given an equal opportunity to succeed or fail. However, colleges are not required to provide specific support or accommodations. For example, you may request a textbook on audiotape, but the college may decide to provide you with a reader. Because you can obtain the needed information from a reader, it would be legal for the college to make this decision.
  • If you are receiving services from Rehabilitation Services Administration, request that testing records be sent to the Disability Support Services Office.
  • If you have recently graduated from high school, request copies of any tests related to your disability. You may be able to save time or money by providing them to the Disability Support Services Office.
  • The Disability Support Services Office may request more documentation regarding your disability. You may need to pay for further testing to document your disability. Testing can be expensive, and it may not be covered by health insurance.

Laws Protecting the Rights of Adult Students with Disabilities

The following federal laws protect the rights of adult students with disabilities:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)—A federal civil rights law that states public or private institutions cannot discriminate on the basis of disability. It helps to implement and enforce Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and also outlines additional protections for people with disabilities.
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973—A federal civil rights law that prohibits any organization that receives money from the federal government from discriminating on the basis of a disability.

Limits to the Law and Personal Responsibility—Students with disabilities are required to meet the same college admissions and academic requirements as students without disabilities. These laws are designed to protect the student’s civil rights to attend and participate equally with students who do not have disabilities. The law does not specify or require a college to provide a particular accommodation, nor does the law consider what would be the best learning environment for a particular student.


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