There are so many things that students and families can do in middle school and high school to get ready to go to college. The first and most important thing is to BELIEVE that you can go to college! There are around 300 non-degree college programs in the US that are designed to support students with intellectual disabilities. So for students who may have been told that college is not for them, that is not true! College options are available.
Once students have decided that they want to go to college, they can work with their families and teachers to get ready. We have a number of resources that share ideas on what you can do NOW to prepare for college in the future.
We suggest that teachers, students and families think about how they can focus their Individual Education Plans (IEP) on skills needed for college. A Think College brief offers a checklist of tips for IEP Teams to help students prepare for college, and this chart shares dozens of IEP Goals in a variety of domains that can be included in the IEPs of students interested in going to college. In addition, transition teachers can think about what skills a student will need in college and create ways for those to be practiced in high school. These charts list typical college expectations and offers suggestions for secondary preparation for each one.
At home, there can also be important activities that can help students get ready - these Suggestions for Parents from the directors of a college program offer many ideas to consider, as does this chart sharing Twenty Powerful Strategies to prepare for college.
The transition to college is a big adjustment for parents and families of new college students as well. Supports and services for students with disabilities differ in significant ways between high school and college. Two resources that help to illuminate these differences are: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act for College Students and a chart of The Differences Between High School and College In this YouTube video, parents discuss the differences between HS and college learned first hand when their kids went off to college.