The transition from high school to college is a challenging time for students. Understanding some of the important differences between high school and college can help students achieve a smoother transition. Students with disabilities entering college need to be informed about changes in their rights and responsibilities as well as the rights and responsibilities of the University. Informed students are better able to fully enjoy the benefits of their postsecondary education experience without confusion or delay.
A misconception often exists among students and their parents that postsecondary schools and high schools have the same responsibilities in regard to the provision of academic accommodations for students with disabilities. Unlike elementary school and high school, IEPs and 504 Plans are no longer a part of the process in providing services to students with disabilities, nor are team meetings and progress reports. In addition, the University does not provide services that are "personal in nature." Laws that govern services for students with disabilities in grades K–12 vary from those that protect students in postsecondary education.
The responsibilities of postsecondary schools are significantly different from those of school districts at the secondary level. And the responsibilities of students with disabilities are different as well. As students enter the college setting, it is in their best interest to know their rights and responsibilities as well as the rights and the responsibilities of the postsecondary schools under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). These laws protect the civil rights of individuals with disabilities and ensure equal access to education. Being informed will improve students’ opportunities to succeed in postsecondary education and help to eliminate misunderstandings and false expectations.
Also of interest: The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights has issued a pamphlet. Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities