Rockford, Illinois


As a student with a disability, moving from high school to college can be an exciting time, but it can also involve anxiety and confusion. Your experience in college will be very different than what you have grown accustomed to at the secondary level. As a student with a disability it is important that you know and understand what your rights and responsibilities are as well as what responsibilities the college has toward you. Being well informed will maximize your experience at the college as well as reduce confusion and delay in getting your needs met.

Student Responsibilities

  • Self-Advocacy: Students need to understand their disability, how it is limiting to them and be able to communicate this information to others effectively.  It is the student's responsibility to seek out resources for assistance in college.  For tips on how to talk with your instructors about accommodations, click here.
  • Classroom behavior/Attendance: Students must be able to adhere to acceptable standards of behavior and abide by the college's code of conduct.  Students with disabilities are not exempt from behavior expectations or course attendance policies.
  • Independence: Students need to manage their course schedule and the day-to-day demands of the academic experience without relying on parental involvement.

College's Responsibilities

  • Accommodations: The College provides reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities who have met the requirements for eligibility to ensure equal access to the programs and services offered.
  • Confidentiality: The College is obligated to protect the student's right to privacy and confidentiality in regards to FERPA.
  • Procedures: The College is responsible for establishing reasonable procedures for requesting accommodations as well as informing students of such. The Disability Support Services Procedure Manual provides detailed information on policies and procedures relating to academic accommodations.


The transition from high school to college is not only daunting for the student, but it is an eye-opening experience for parents as well.  It can often be difficult to learn that the mandated services provided under IDEA no longer apply as a student moves into the post-secondary and adult service delivery systems.  Educating yourself on the differences in civil rights laws, college rights and responsibilities, and adult services will help make your child's transition into adulthood smoother.

To facilitate the transition process, it is crucial that you begin to teach and allow your child to start doing for themselves what others have done for so many years.  In college it will be the student's responsibility to advocate for themselves and seek out the services needed, so now is the time to assist him/her in building the skills needed for life-long self-advocacy.  Often, students are not aware of how much has been done for him or her and they may not even understand what their disability is and how it relates to the services they need.

The following chart can be helpful in explaining the differences between laws at the K-12 level vs. post-secondary institutions.  In addition, the U.S. Department of Education publishes an informative transition brochure detailing the differences between high school and college. 

If you would like more information on the process of transition, or how things will be different in college, please contact the DSS Office.


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