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Students with disabilities must assume responsibility for their education as any other SUNY Cobleskill student. This includes maintaining the same academic standards, attending classes, maintaining appropriate behavior and providing timely notification of any special needs.

Unlike high school, you must be the one to seek out and ask for assistance. If you are requesting accommodations, you must be sure your documentation has been forwarded to the Coordinator of AccessABILITY Resources, no later than the second week of the semester. The best time to forward your documentation is immediately after you receive notification of acceptance.

You must actively participate in your education in order to succeed! You must do your homework regularly, hand in assignments on time and study for all exams.

You must be prepared to follow all policies and procedures for requesting accommodations and make and keep all appointments to discuss your needs, when requesting accommodations.

Preparing for College

By Elizabeth Evans Getzel and Paul Wehman
Published: February 26 2009

Obtaining an advanced degree or training beyond high school is essential for individuals to be competitive in today's labor market. Whether it is college, adult and continuing education, or technical preparation, postsecondary education plays a major role in preparing people for employment and career opportunities. Students who continue their education after high school are more prepared to meet the challenges of a changing marketplace.

Research demonstrates that people with disabilities believe that postsecondary education is a means to enhance their chances of:

  1. Obtaining and maintaining employment,
  2. Earning a higher annual income, and
  3. Creating a pathway to lifelong independence and a greater quality of life.

Preparing for College

Students with disabilities share many of the same decisions and preparations for college as all students who are considering higher education. Every student needs to consider the size and location of the college, the programs and majors available, extracurricular offerings, the diversity of students, and the availability of scholarships or financial aid. However, students with disabilities must consider other specific areas when determining an appropriate college or university program. Some of these include the availability of support services, campus accessibility, and documentation requirements to obtain services.

Preparation for postsecondary education includes learning the skills necessary to deal with both the academic and social challenges presented by college. Educators, families, and students may assume that if a student with a disability is academically capable of participating in postsecondary education, then further preparation for college is not needed...Unfortunately, without effective planning and preparation, students with disabilities can feel overwhelmed and unable to adapt to a postsecondary environment. Therefore, the transition to college must begin early in their education experience. Activities in middle school could include taking demanding courses in English, math, science, history, or foreign language; learning about high school programs that will help a student pursue academic and career interests; and working on developing strong study skills and learning strategies.

Understanding the Demands of College

Secondary students with disabilities seeking a college education (whether in a 2- or 4-year setting) become fully responsible for managing their college career once they are accepted into a program. In postsecondary environments there are:

  1. fewer contacts with instructors,
  2. expectations of higher levels of academic capability,
  3. fewer tests covering a larger amount of material,
  4. changes in the support systems that students previously had in high school,
  5. higher expectations to achieve independently, and
  6. changes in social and independent living demands...The reality of this level of responsibility is often not fully realized until the student is in college. However, the more informed a student is about the demands of college, the smoother the transition will be from secondary to postsecondary education.

Academic Preparation

Students with disabilities must be able to demonstrate that they have met the academic requirements to enter a college or university. It is important that students are enrolled in college preparatory classes during high school to build a foundation of knowledge not only to enter college but also to have the academic preparedness to remain in college...IEP team members, especially teachers and guidance counselors, should ensure that students are taking the coursework necessary to compete in the college application process. Students with disabilities must be familiar with the math, science, and language requirements for colleges, especially for the higher education programs that they are interested in attending.

One academic area that might need to be thoroughly explored by students and family members is the foreign language requirement for entry into and graduation from a higher education institution. Colleges vary widely on foreign language requirements...Some students with disabilities chose to waive a foreign language requirement during high school to help maintain a higher grade point average. This may limit the number of colleges that they are eligible to attend...Specific questions should be asked of college admission offices about their foreign language requirements:

...Prior to selecting a college, students need to be aware of policies that the college or university has concerning course substitutions. It cannot be assumed that because course substitutions for a foreign language were provided at the secondary level or even at another postsecondary program that all colleges or universities follow this same policy.

Gaining Access to Supports and Services on Campus

Colleges and universities vary in the types of supports and services provided to students with disabilities. Supports most commonly requested by students include textbooks on tape, notetakers, extended time on tests, distraction-free environment for test taking, use of calculators, and permission to audiotape lectures...Students also need to explore services that are available on campus for all students — for example, counseling services, writing or math labs, and study skills or time management classes offered either through a counseling center or other entities on campus. There is a full range of services on campus to assist all students in successfully meeting their academic goals, and students with disabilities should take advantage of these services along with any specialized services that they are receiving....

...Students with disabilities are not automatically entitled to disability-related services and supports but must meet eligibility requirements through the documentation of a disability...Students with disabilities must know their rights and responsibilities as these pertain to their college education. Understanding the process to obtain services and supports on campus is a critical step for determining whether a particular higher education program can meet a student's unique needs.

Questions to Ask Concerning Services and Supports

Unfortunately, too many college students with disabilities are not aware of the supports and services available on campus. Sometimes these students believe that they will gain access to services when they really need them. This may happen after failing their first test or experiencing academic problems after mid-terms. This puts students under more stress to successfully complete a semester. It is important to realize that faculty will only institute accommodations upon receipt of a letter or notification from the college DSS office that a student with a disability presents regarding his or her eligibility to receive specific accommodations. These services are not retroactive, so the sooner students self-identify to the DSS office and become eligible for services, the greater the chance of successfully using these supports in their coursework. Knowing about the services and supports prior to applying for college can assist students in gaining access to services before academic problems occur.