High School vs. College

Have a disability? Understanding some of the differences between high school and college can help you have a smoother transition.​


High SchoolCollege
Documentation focuses on determining whether student is eligible for services based on specific disability categories in I.D.E.A.Documentation may provide information on specific nature of condition or disability, functional limitations, and demonstrate the need for specific accommodations.


High SchoolCollege
Student is identified by the school and is supported by parents and teachers.Student must self-identify to the Accessibility Services Office.
Primary responsibility for arranging accommodations belongs to the school.Primary responsibility for self-advocacy and arranging accommodations belongs to the student.
Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance.Professors are usually open and helpful but may expect you to initiate contact if you need assistance. The Accessibility Services Case Managers can help you initiate contact with professors.

Parental Role

High SchoolCollege
Parent has access to student records and can participate in the accommodation process.Parent does not have access to student records without student’s written consent.
Parent advocates for student.Student advocates for self.


High SchoolCollege
Teachers may modify curriculum and/or alter pace of assignments.Professors are not required to modify curriculum design.
Students are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed, and often re-taught, in class.Students are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing which may not be directly addressed in class.
Students seldom need to read anything more than once, and sometimes listening in class is enough.Students need to review class notes and text material regularly.

Grades and Tests

High SchoolCollege
I.E.P. or 504 plan may include modifications to test format and/or grading.Grading and test format changes (i.e. multiple choice vs. essay) are generally not available. How tests are given (extended time, readers, scribes, test proctors) are appropriate accommodations when supported by disability documentation.
Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material.Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material.
Makeup tests are often available.Makeup tests are rarely an option, without permission from professor.
Teachers often take time to remind you of assignments and due dates.Professors expect you to read, save, and consult the course syllabus (outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of you, when it is due, and how you will be graded.

Student Responsi​bilities

High SchoolCollege
Tutoring and study support may be a service provided as part of an I.E.P. or 504 plan.Tutoring DOES NOT fall under Accessibility Services and is not considered an academic adjustment or accommodation. Students with disabilities must seek out tutoring resources as they are available to all students. However, the Accessibility Services Case Managers can help connect you to Tutoring Services..
Student’s time and assignments are structured by others.Students manage your own time and complete assignments independently.
Students may study outside of class as little as 0 to 2 hours a week, and this may be mostly last-minute test preparation.Students need to study at least 2 to 3 hours outside of class for each hour in class.​