Student Services

Differences Between High School and College

Significant differences exist between high school and college for students with disabilities and the provision of support services and accommodations. 


HIGH SCHOOL / Secondary

COLLEGE / Post-Secondary

The primary law is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act also apply.

Students are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. (IDEA is not in effect.)


Colleges may not discriminate in recruitment, admissions and participation in programs and services solely on the basis of disability.

The school district is responsible for identifying, evaluating and documenting the disability.



The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) process determines placement, appropriate services and goals.

Students wanting reasonable accommodations must: self-identify, provide current disability documentation and request disability-related services.


The process for accessing services may vary widely among colleges. The IEP is not accepted verification upon high school graduation. Students are responsible for setting their own goals, requesting services and monitoring their own progress.

The proposed outcomes, evaluation criteria and instructional methodologies may be modified.


Because of confidentiality regulations (FERPA), students over 18 years of age are expected to be in charge of their self-advocacy for accommodations.



HIGH SCHOOL / Secondary

COLLEGE / Post-Secondary

Once a disability is documented, services are made available and included in the student's daily schedule.

After documentation has been provided and appropriate accommodations have been identified; students are responsible for requesting the accommodation(s) each time they are needed.

Parents are notified and must give permission for any decisions regarding their son or daughter.

Parents are not notified of services their son or daughter requests unless the student grants permission for that information to be released.

Teachers, administrators and parents advocate for students.

Students must advocate for themselves.

Revaluation of students is conducted by the school on a regular basis.

Reevaluation of a disability is not generally required if a student remains continuously enrolled in the college.



HIGH SCHOOL / Secondary

COLLEGE / Post-Secondary

The District ensures that the IEP is implemented and that progress on goals is made.

The student is responsible for his/her own progress.

Assignments may be shortened and make up tests may be offered. If established in the IEP, a student may have a lower standard of course mastery.


Students take the same exams as their peers and are expected to meet the same grading and mastery standard as other students, but may receive approved, reasonable accommodations. (Such as extended time, alternate testing site, scribe.)

Students follow a prescribed curriculum established by the school district.

Students take courses based on placement test results, degree fields of study and personal preference.

Students go from one class to another everyday of the week for about 6 hours per day. Students usually spend about 30 hours in the classroom each week. Often teachers help students study and prepare for tests in class.


Actual time spent in the classroom is considerably less in college. Professors usually expect students to read and study on their own. For every hour in a college class, a student should expect to spend 2-3 hours studying on their own. (Such as reading, reviewing notes, or researching.)

Classes are scheduled for students and their attendance in class is carefully monitored.

Students will arrange their own class schedule with the help of a Counselor. Professors may not formally take roll - but they know who attended. Missing classes is directly correlated to failure in college.

Teachers provide students with information missed when absent.

Students may be eligible for note-taking assistance depending upon the disability, however, missing classes may jeopardize note taking assistance.

Teachers often write information on the board to cue note-taking. Note taking may not be essential.

Reading assignments can be lengthy and in-class material from lectures may be substantial. Professors will expect students to identify the important points to include in their notes. Good class notes in college are essential.

Students are provided textbooks at little or no expense.

Students will need to budget for and purchase their textbooks.

Teachers give students materials to help them understand the course content. Often students are only responsible for what is presented in class.

Professors may or may not follow the textbook. They may offer illustrations, background information or relevant research to help students understand the content. They will expect the students to assimilate the textbook readings even if they aren't covered in class.

Homework is checked. Students are reminded if assignments are missing.

Professors often assume homework is completed and may not remind students of missing assignments or problems with work submitted.