The Differences between High School and College for the Student with a Disability

In high school, the school has responsibilities, which include the following:

In colleges and universities:

Identify students with disabilities

Students must self-identify and a school is required to protect a student’s right to privacy and confidentiality

Provide an evaluation of the student’s disability

Documentation of the disability, including a professional evaluation, is the student’s responsibility

Classify disabilities according to specified diagnostic categories

Colleges have specific guidelines for documentation of a disability. The classifications or diagnosis of the condition is not as important. What matters is the functional limitation caused by the individual’s disability

Involve parents or guardians in placement decisions in most circumstances or with very few exceptions

Parents and guardian are not involved, and privacy laws may bar college staff from even discussing a student’s disability with parents unless permission is given by the student in writing

Provide certain non-academic services

Ensure that non-academic services are accessible, and do not discriminate

Place students in programs by a placement committee with parent participation and approval

There are NO IEP’s, 504 plans, or placement committees; a student must be a self-advocate

Structure a large part of the student’s weekly schedule

Students structure their own schedules Recommendations are made to the student, it is the student’s responsibility to follow recommendations and established procedures 

Modify educational programs

Provide reasonable academic accommodations and/or auxiliary aids or services to accommodate the functional limitations of qualified students with disabilities, as indicated in appropriate documentation. Accommodations cannot lower or alter the standards of the program/course

Prepare Individualized Educational Plans (IEP’s)

College staff prepare accommodation letters that suggest reasonable accommodations, auxiliary or services  without lowering or altering the standards of the program/course

Provide a free and appropriate education

The student requests accommodations and/or auxiliary aids, but chooses his/her own classes and programs, within a school’s requirements

Inform parents of their procedural safeguards (right to due process, etc.)

Inform students of their rights and responsibilities

Elementary and secondary institutions provide accommodations to have their students BE successful (IDEA)

Postsecondary facilities provide access and an equal OPPORTUNITY for students to be successful (Rehab Act, ADA)


Office of Disability Services
Mrs. Paula Madey, MRC
Horton Hall 322
Office: (717) 477-1329
Fax: (717) 477-4065 

Ms. Sherry A. Hillyard, M.Ed.
Associate Director
Horton Hall 323
Office: (717) 477-1326
Fax: (717) 477-4065  

Mrs. Brandy Linn
Horton Hall 312
Office: (717) 477-1364

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