Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What are the requirements to attend these programs?

To be eligible to apply for the programs listed in Think College Search, students should have a documented intellectual disability. They may also have other disabilities such as autism, vision impairments, etc.

Each program has its own criteria for admission - but it will NOT include a regular high school diploma, SAT or ACT scores or a specific grade point average from high school. Because these programs use an alternative admission process, the standard things often asked for in a college admission process like a diploma, test scores and grades will not apply, but things like desire to go to college, wanting to live more independently and get a job after college will be important.

Find programs you are interested in and review their admission criteria on our website and then visit the program's website or call to find out more detail.

What do you mean by the term intellectual disability?

Intellectual disability is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning (reasoning, learning, problem solving) and in adaptive behavior, which covers a range of everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of 18. To learn more about intellectual disability, visit this page featuring several frequently asked questions about intellectual disability.

What is IPSE, or "inclusive postsecondary education"?

People use several terms to describe these relatively new programs that offer a college education to students with intellectual disability. Many use the term "inclusive postsecondary education, or IPSE, to refer to this group of programs. Fundamentally, these are programs that offer an alternative admission process, and/or additional supports so that the unique needs of students with intellectual disability can be met. Students typically earn a certificate of some kind rather than a degree through these programs.

Even though the word "inclusive" is in the name, programs vary as to the degree to which students are fully included in all aspects of college life, including college classes and residence halls. You need to ask questions to determine the level of inclusion that is available at a specific college program.

Do some of the programs in your listing serve students that are transition-aged and still in high school?

Yes, there are about 100 programs in our listing that serve students in high school. About half of them support ONLY students in high school from certain school districts, and these are clearly marked. We refer to these programs as "college-based transition services". The other half serve BOTH high school students and students who have left high school. These programs may or may not limit access for high school students to those from specific districts.

What are college-based transition services?

College-based transition services refers to programs that are partnerships between school district(s) and a college or university that accept ONLY transition-aged students from those district(s). In these programs, transition services provided under IDEA occur on a college campus. These programs are only open to transition aged students in the partner school districts and are indicated in our database with an icon and text indicating that they only serve students from specific school districts.

Are there summer programs available for students to experience college life before attending full time?

Yes, there are a variety of different summer program options offered by college programs. Some are to prepare students who have been accepted into the program for the upcoming Fall, and there are also many that are for any student who wished to experience a bit of college life. Some are residential, some are during the day only, and they vary in length. To see a listing of summer programs Think College has compiled from info provided to them by the programs, review this Excel spreadsheet.

About Think College Search

How do I use Think College Search?

1. Start at the Think College Search Welcome page.

2. Note that in the box at the top of the page, you can click on a link to a publication called Conducting a College Search: Questions to Ask College Programs. This publication is a helpful guide to consult once you have done your search and narrowed down some options. It can help you further decide what you and your student are looking for in a college, and guide you as you contact colleges.

3. The US map includes a number representing the number of programs available in each state. If you hover over a state, the state name will show up. Click any state to see the full list of programs in that state.

4. There are a range of basic filters you can use to narrow down your results, found on the left hand side of the page.
a. By state
b. By college name, program name or keyword
c. Serves students still in high school
d. Offers financial aid (NOTE: programs that offer financial aid are also know as CTPs, or Comprehensive Transition Programs.
e. Offers housing

5. Click Advanced Filters to select additional filters
a. Disability type
b. Public or private college/university
c. Type of school (e.g., 2 or 4 year college, technical school)
d. Length of program
e. TPSID (this stands for Transition and Postsecondary for Students with ID; these are the federally funded model demonstration programs that are currently funded).

You may select as many criteria as you like, however the more items you select, the fewer results you will see. You may need to revise your search depending on the results.

How do I save and compare a list of favorite colleges?

To save a list of colleges that you are considering, follow these steps:
1. Click on the college program you want to know more about.
2. Click the SAVE button.
3. This will put this college on your favorites list.
4. Repeat this for all other programs you want to save and compare.
5. You will have a list of favorites made up of all the programs you saved.
6. From there, you can send a link to your saved colleges by entering an email address.
7. You can also click "see favorites" to view the quick look for each saved program.
8. By clicking compare and download, you will be taken to a webpage that lists all saved programs with 11 key features listed in a table. The 11 features included in the table are: state, college name, program name, program contact person, email address, phone number, program website, length of program, housing availability, CTP status, admission application deadline and cost. You can download that list as a .CSV (spreadsheet) file to save to your computer which can be opened by Microsoft Excel and other spreadsheet programs.

How does Think College get the info about college programs they share on the site?

The information is all self-reported by the program, and the surveys are completed to varying degrees of completeness. So you may not see all of that information for every program – it depends on what they provide to us. Each program record will also show when it was last updated; note that these programs are evolving all the time, so it is best to contact programs directly to get the most up-to-date information.

Think College makes every effort to add programs as they become known to us, and does annual outreach requesting updated information each year, typically in February/March.

What criteria does a program have to meet to be listed on Think College Search?

The programs listed on Think College Search must be a program of or directly affiliated with an accredited institute of higher education (IHE) and they must support students with intellectual disability.

It is important to note that if a college program meets these two basic criteria, it can be listed in Think College Search. Being listed there does not imply or offer any endorsement of the program by Think College.

The vast majority of programs listed are operated by the IHE, although there are some that are affiliated with a college but are operated by an external entity such as a community agency. We include these variations as we believe these programs may be of interest to those using our site to identify possible college options.

What information is provided for each college program?

We ask each program to provide program name, contact information, website, program location, and a brief description at minimum. We also ask optional questions regarding admission requirements, acceptance rates, cost (including ways to pay for the program) and information about academic options, what credential(s) are earned by students, housing options, employment supports and outcomes, and extracurricular offerings.

How can I learn more about the programs beyond what is provided in Think College Search?

Once you have located colleges you are interested in, download the How To Think College Guide to Conducting a College Search [PDF]. It provides you with the right questions to ask in order to get the answers you need about each program on your list. The How To guide is also available in Spanish. Attend an Open House or make an appointment to visit or call the program to ask the questions in this guide that matter most to you.

College Supports for Autism

How do I find college support programs for degree-seeking students with autism?

Students and parents often visit looking for information about supports for students with autism. While many of the programs listed in the Think College Search do support students with both intellectual disability and autism, for students who want to pursue a degree and plan to apply to college through a typical admissions process, the programs in the Think College listing are not the best fit.

For related resources and to learn more about support programs for matriculated (degree-seeking) students with autism, there are three websites that we can recommend.

College Autism Network (CAN) is a national non-profit organization linking varied stakeholders engaged in evidence-based efforts to improve access, experiences, and outcomes for college students with autism. Their website shares several very helpful resources and provides a listing of autism-specific college support programs.

College Autism Spectrum (CAS) is an independent organization of professionals whose purpose is to assist students with autism spectrum disorders, and their families. They specialize in College Counseling (helping students find the right college) and Work/Career Readiness (skill building for interviews, jobs and work skills). Their website also provides a list of colleges around the US that offer support for students with autism.

ASD Ascend has a searchable online database of over 120 colleges and universities that offer enhanced supports for students with autism. Note that membership is required to view the full listing and all details.