High School and College Differences

The information below is made available to help identify for students the differences between support service expectations for high school and college.  Before reading the information below, students are advised to read the Department of Education's rights and responsibilities webpage.

The information below is intended to highlight the major differences between expected services for students enrolled in public high school and the expected services for postsecondary institutions.

Applicable Laws

High School

  • I.D.E.A (Individual with Disabilities Education Act)
  • Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • I.D.E.A. is about SUCCESS

College

  • A.D.A. (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990)
  • Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • A.D.A. is about ACCESS





Required Documentation

High School

  • I.E.P. (Individualized Education Plan and/or 504 Plan)
  • School provides evaluation at no cost to student
  • Documentation focuses on determining whether student is eligible for services based on specific disability categories in I.D.E.A.

College

  • High School I.E.P. and 504 are not sufficient. Documentation guidelines specify information needed for each category of disability.
  • Student must get evaluation at own expense
  • Documentation must provide information on specific functional limitations, and demonstrate the need for specific accommodations







Self-Advocacy

High School

  • Student is identified by the school and is supported by parents and teachers
  • Primary responsibility for arranging accommodations belongs to the school
  • Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance

College

  • Student must self-identify to the Office of Disability Services
  • Primary responsibility for self-advocacy and arranging accommodations belongs to the student
  • Professors are usually open and helpful, but most expect you to initiate contact if you need assistance









Parental Role

High School

  • Parent has access to student records and can participate in the accommodation process
  • Parent advocates for student

College

  • Parent does not have access to student records without student’s written consent
  • Student advocates for self






Instruction

High School

  • Teachers may modify curriculum and/or alter pace of assignments
  • You are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed, and often re-taught, in class
  • You seldom need to read anything more than once, and sometimes listening in class is enough

College

  • Professors are not required to modify curriculum design or alter assignment deadlines
  • You are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing which may not be directly addressed in class
  • You need to review class notes and text material regularly









Grades & Tests

High School

  • I.E.P. or 504 plan may include modifications to test format and/or grading
  • Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material
  • Makeup tests are often available
  • Teachers often take time to remind you of assignments and due dates

College

  • Grading and test format changes (i.e. multiple choice vs. essay) are generally not available. Accommodations to HOW tests are given (extended time, test proctors) are available when supported by disability documentation.
  • Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material
  • Makeup tests are seldom an option; if they are, you need to request them
  • 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

















Study Responsibilities

High School

  • Tutoring and study support may be a service provided as part of an I.E.P. or 504 plan
  • Your time and assignments are structured by others
  • You may study outside of class as little as 0 to 2 hours a week, and this may be mostly last-minute test preparation

College

  • Tutoring does not fall under Disability Services. Students with disabilities must seek out tutoring resources as they are available to all students.
  • You manage your own time and complete assignments independently
  • You need to study at least 2 to 3 hours outside of class for each hour in class