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Resources for Parents

Letter to Parents: Transitioning to College

The transition from high school to college presents many challenges for all students and their families. It can be exciting and confusing, happy and stressful, fun and fearful. Those feelings are normal and are all part of the process of growth and change.

For students with disabilities there is the added challenge of figuring out the differences between the services they received in high school and the rights and responsibilities they will have as college students. There are some significant differences between high school and college.

The responsibilities of the University differ significantly from those of school districts. No “special education” system exists at the college level, but colleges do provide services to students with disabilities.

Your student will have responsibilities that they did not have as a high school student. In college, the student is responsible for initiating a request for an accommodation. To do so, the student must declare that they have a disability and must provide current documentation.

Colleges are not governed by the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act); however, colleges are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of disability and are required to ensure equal access for otherwise qualified students with disabilities. “Equal access” includes providing students with reasonable accommodations.

All students, including those with disabilities must meet the same academic standards. Accommodations are meant to “level the playing field,” not lower standards. See the accompanying chart for details.

Differences Between High School and College

Differences Between High School and College for Students with Disabilities (   

Students have the right to:

  • Confidentiality – Expect that all disability-related information will be treated confidentially.
  • Accommodations – Receive appropriate accommodations in a timely manner from faculty. Students should have the opportunity to meet privately with faculty to discuss needed accommodations and any other concerns.

Students have the responsibility to:

  • Provide faculty with an accommodation form from the Coordinator of Disability Services when requesting accommodations.
  • Initiate the accommodation process.

Faculty have the right to:

  • Documentation – If a student requests an accommodation, faculty should ask for verification of disability in the form of an accommodation letter from the Coordinator of Disability Services that states the specific accommodations that a student is eligible for, signed by the Coordinator of Disability Services and the student.
  • Expect the student to initiate the accommodation request/process.

Faculty have the responsibility to:

  • Use a syllabus statement and class announcements to invite students to disclose their needs. See examples.
  • Upon receiving an accommodation letter, implement the accommodations.
  • Confidentiality – Treat all disability-related information as confidential.
  • Provide accommodations only to students who provide a letter from the Coordinator of Disability Services, stating which accommodations are recommended. It is not your responsibility to provide accommodations to students who are not registered with the Coordinator of Disability Services.

Free and Low-Cost Assistive Technology Resources

Text-to-Speech Tools

Speech-to-Text Tools, Writing, Dictation, Note Taking, & Recording

Some of these are free and some carry a fee. Check our your app store for details.

Vermont State University logo

Northern Vermont University will join with Castleton University and Vermont Technical College to become Vermont State University on July 1, 2023. Learn more and apply for fall 2023.

Learn More and Apply