1000 State Street
Springfield, MA 01109
College Steps is a non-profit organization that partners with colleges and universities to support students with social, communication, or learning challenges (including but not limited to students with significant learning disabilities, autism, developmental, or intellectual disabilities), ages 16-26, with their college pursuits. The mission of College Steps is to expand supports for young adults with the functional skills sufficient to transition to a college environment, but who remain challenged to succeed and thrive in this adult learning setting without additional supports.
College Steps is committed to transition services, and specializes in preparing students for meaningful careers, higher education, and autonomy after graduation. We place strong emphasis on inclusion, self-advocacy, employment, and independent living skills and aim to provide high quality educational support for students who are interested in pursuing a college primer experience during their transition year(s) in high school. In addition to the high school transition model, College Steps also offers contracted support hours for college students enrolled at participating colleges and the option of a two-year certificate program for students (ages 18-26) interested in receiving a college experience and job training on a college campus.
Our students are supported by one of our full-time program coordinators and are mentored by fully matriculated college students. The majority of the day-to-day support students receive is through their work with the peer mentors, which allows for a truly inclusive environment and is one of the features of our model we are most proud of. College Steps students typically spend 25 hours per week on campus, take 1-2 courses per semester, and would be considered tuition paying non-matriculated students.
College Steps is able to partner with virtually any college or university that emphasizes inclusively and is interested in opening its doors to this unique and novel supportive learning model. Our program is offered at no cost to our collegiate partners and offers a wonderful opportunity for matriculated students to take part in a valuable mentoring experience. Finally, a small class size of up to 10 students per year allows our staff to fully meet the needs of the scholars.
College Steps is currently partnered with seven colleges and universities across New England and the Mid Atlantic and is sustainably developing at least two new partnerships per year. If you feel there is a need in your community that has yet to be filled or if you are interested in one of our existing programs, please reach out to us.
|Public or private:||Private|
|Type of school:||4-year college or university|
|Is this program a federally funded TPSID program?||No|
|Students in this program:||
|Number of students:||70|
|School district or agency partner:||School districts: Chicopee, Frontier Regional, Hampden-Wilbraham, Northampton, Smith Vocational, Somers, Ware, Belchertown|
|Deadline to apply to this program:||May 1st|
|Link to admissions process:||Admissions link|
|Requirements for admission to this program:||
|Accepts out-of-state students?:||Yes|
|Please indicate which disabilities students in this program have:||
|Program length:||Varies from student to student|
|Acceptance, Retention, and Completion Rates|
|Percent of students applying who are admitted:||99%|
|Cost of the program:||
$25,930 for two credited courses or $23,800 for two audited courses and support services for the academic year.
|Is this program able to provide federal financial aid as a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP)?||No|
|Students pay for the program in the following ways:||
|Students take these types of "typical" courses (with students who don't have disabilities):||
|More about course access:||
No two learning styles are the same. Therefore, academic support is customized to the student’s preferences and needs. The College Steps team first works closely with each student and family to understand and identify areas of academic challenge and then collaboratively creates an individualized academic support program perfectly calibrated to respond.
Tangible Skills - Areas may include in-classroom support with note taking, group participation support, study skills sessions, time management guidance, test taking strategies, and homework support.
Mentor Model - Via College Steps’ model of peer-based support, much of the academic enrichment College Steps provides is offered through College Steps’ award-winning peer mentor system.
Campus Connection - On each of the campuses in which we partner, College Steps also works in close collaboration with Student Support Services, Disability Services, Academic Advising and Campus Tutoring to ensure optimal supports are in place and seamless communication occurs.
|Time spent only with other students in this program:||Less than 25% of the time|
|Credential(s) students earn upon completing the program:||Certificate of Achievement in Higher Education|
|The credential(s) is/are:||Approved by Institute of Higher Education|
|Percent of students in this program have paid work while attending the program:||55%|
|Other career development activities are:||
|Percent of students in this program that had paid work after exiting the program:||85%|
|Housing is provided to students:||No|
|Students participate in student organizations on campus:||Yes|
|Proportion of time spent only with other students in this program:||Less than 25%|
|Students have participated in these social/extracurricular activities and organizations:||
For many students, the prospect of cultivating new social connections in college can feel intimidating. Yet social and extracurricular involvement in college is shown to be a key element of student overall success and happiness.
Peer Mentors - College Steps offers students the support of our peer mentor network. Peer mentors are there to lend a hand and help College Steps students feel more comfortable as they navigate the college social network. Peer mentors are carefully selected, trained, and closely supervised by College Steps’ professional staff.
Social Inclusion - The peer mentor network is central to College Steps’ natural support model and has proven to be a vital component in helping guide College Steps students through the nuances of social life on campus, including forging friendships and encouraging involvement in new social activities. Peer Mentors help link College Steps students to the social element of college life via introduction to new clubs, activities, social groups, extracurricular events, and weekend activities.
Social Support - College Steps also incorporates more structured social learning opportunities via an evidence-based curriculum focusing on the advancement of social cognition, social awareness, and social thinking.