What You Need to Do to Prepare for College or University
The application process for colleges and universities begins this month. As a student with a disability you need to consider both the requirements of the program you are interested in attending, as well as the availability of disability supports. To help, the following activities are organized in a checklist format that can be used in planning for the transition from high school to college or university. Please note that this list is focussed on academic aspects of transition and does not consider other issues such as housing, attendant care, equipment or transportation.
Find Out More about Your Disability
- Name your disability and describe how it affects your learning.
- Identify your strengths in learning; these will help you in school.
- Identify the accommodations you need for learning (e.g., note taking assistance, test accommodations and assistive technology).
- Identify the study skills that are a challenge because of your disability.
Learn How to Advocate for Yourself
- Participate in any activities related to planning your education.
- Ask questions when you don’t understand something.
- Recognize and anticipate potential problems.
- Consider and practice strategies to effectively respond to challenges.
- Actively seek out people who can assist you.
- Learn about laws that affect and support students with disabilities (e.g., the Ontario Human Rights Code).
Create a Personal Information File
- Find out where your birth certificate, permanent resident or Canadian citizenship records are kept.
- Organize your documents:
- Diagnosis or disability documentation.
- Individual Education Plan (IEP) and Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) Statement of Decision.
- Educational records, transcripts, report cards.
- Social insurance number.
Investigate Possible Careers and Education Options
- Identify possible career interests and the education or training needed for them.
- Research which colleges or universities offer the programs that match your career interests and abilities.
Select the Colleges or Universities You are Interested in Attending
- Visit the colleges or universities you are considering.
- Include disability and other support services in your visit. Learn about the types of services and accommodations that may be available to you.
- If you cannot visit in person, visit the colleges or universities’ websites or contact them by phone.
- Based on your investigation, pick the colleges or universities you feel have the academic programs that match your interests and will provide the services you need to be successful.
Apply to the Colleges or Universities
- Visit the Ontario Colleges or Ontario Universities’ Application Centres websites to make an application.
- Submit all applications and supporting documents by due dates.
- Identify what disability documentation you will need to receive services and accommodations in college.
Prepare for and Meet Program Admission Requirements
- Determine if you will be required to write an admissions or placement test, attend an interview, give an audition, and/or have your portfolio reviewed. Check the program calendar or contact the admissions office for specific requirements.
- Contact disability services office to find out what accommodations are available for admission processes.
- Provide disability services office with a copy of your disability documentation.
- Arrange for accommodations for the admissions process with disability services, in advance.
Apply for Financial Aid
- Once you have been accepted to a college or university, apply for financial aid through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).
- At some colleges and universities all students who require financial assistance to pay for assessments, equipment, or services related to their disability must apply for OSAP. OSAP eligibility must be determined before any funding alternatives will be considered.
- Investigate the scholarships available from your high school, at the college or university you want to attend, or for students with particular skills and interests, or disability. Check the Easter Seals Kids at School website for information on scholarships for students with physical disabilities.
- For more information on scholarships and bursaries contact local and provincial service organizations, and search the local library and Internet. The National Education Association of Disabled Students is an excellent resource.
You’ve Been Accepted to College or University
- Contact disability services office to request services. Bring your most recent IEP or other disability documentation to the office.
- Contact disability services office to arrange for services and accommodations even if you have previously been in contact with admissions for placement testing accommodations.
- Provide current documentation of your disability signed by a regulated health professional. The name of your disability must be included in your documentation. Ideally, it will also note functional limitations and academic accommodations you have received in the past.
- Be aware that you will need to purchase your textbooks. Visit the campus bookstore or college website for specific prices. If you need your textbooks in alternate format, contact disability services office as soon as you have been accepted to a program.
For more information on planning the transition to post secondary education see the blog articles:
For more resources to support the transition to post secondary school, check the website: Resource Guide for Students with Disabilities.
Article adapted with permission from Pathways to Post-Secondary: A Transition Guide for People with Disabilities to Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning and the University Of Guelph-Humber (2008)