Challenges Faced by Students with Disabilities in Post-Secondary Education
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Challenges Faced by Students with Disabilities in Post-Secondary Education

How Accommodations Can Make all the Difference

by Terri Shermett, Director – CLE Fort Lauderdale

accommodations in college

With the passage of the Rehabilitation Act in 1973, the transition from secondary to post-secondary education has improved for many students. However, some students still experience difficulties.

Maureen Higgins M.S., C.R.C is the Disability Services Advisor at Broward College in Davie, Florida. Maureen points to three key gaps that exist as the students move on to college. Specifically, she highlights self-advocacy, time management, and the importance of self-identifying with the disability services office before registering for classes.


Getting accommodations in collegeOne of the biggest struggles that students face is the expectation that services will be provided automatically, as in high school, and that the faculty knows about the student’s disability. With self-advocacy challenges, students must learn to discuss accommodations directly with their professors and ensure that their needs are being met, as outlined in their accommodation letter. If they are not receiving needed accommodations, they need to bring their concerns to the Disability Services office. There are times when faculty may not provide a certain accommodation and the student will simply brush it off. Maureen referenced times when the student returns to report these issues after the course has ended. It is the student’s right under the A.D.A. to receive appropriate accommodations, but the students must learn to advocate for themselves.

Time Management

Time managementIn the area of time management, students making the transition to post-secondary studies quickly realize the increase in assignments, the rigor involved in completing the tasks and maintaining the appropriate balance between their courses and the social aspect of college life. Students believe, with all good intentions that they will be able to get everything done on time. Unfortunately, even if they do get it all done by a deadline, the quality of work will not be what it could have been with proper planning. When it comes to exams and extra time, understanding the school procedures is critical in ensuring the best possible outcome. Not every faculty member is full time. Some may only teach two or three classes in a week. Students may wait to the last minute to inform the professor that they wish to use their extra time accommodation for an exam. The result may be not presenting the faculty member with enough time to ensure the exam is at the appropriate testing location.

Connect with Support Offices on Campus

Connect with support officeLastly, in order to aid in the transition to college, it is critical to connect with the various support offices on campus. When it comes to the process of securing accommodations, this is critical. There is a process involved, documents to gather and appointments to attend. When students put that off, they run the risk of beginning class without the services. It is important to start the new semester off on equal footing. This delay in accessing services not only creates an imbalance, but can cause additional stress and anxiety for the already timid new student.

The transition from secondary to post-secondary education is an important step in the life of a young adult. Students, along with their families and guidance staff must make a concerted effort to get ahead of the curve and adequately prepare for this next phase. Taking the time to prepare will only help in the transition and create a confident college student.

Newsletter Articles – August 2015

Transitioning to college

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the next level of the game when it comes to your education: college. This next stage will be an exciting one, but it will also bring its share of challenges. As a high school graduate, you’re undoubtedly a clever scholar who knows your way around the education system. But one of the challenges of success in college is recognizing how it differs from high school. The following chart will help you recognize some of the differences between high school and college and how to navigate those differences.

Roommates at CLE

Are you worried about living with a roommate? You are not alone. Every college student approaches the beginning of the school year with some anxiety about his or her new roommate. Perhaps it is the first time you’ve had to share a living space with someone else. Maybe you’re worried about whether your roommate will be friendly. How will you handle disagreements? Dr. Scott Hykin, Director of Psychological Services at CLE Rockville, offers the following advice for living with a roommate

Moving to a new apartment

Moving into a new apartment for the first time is an exciting adventure! Being organized and knowing what to bring to your apartment can make the transition a smooth one amidst the often not so fun stressors of hauling large boxes and furniture on a hot or rainy moving day. The following is a suggested list of items for a basic start. A key factor to a successful move and start to independent living is: “Simpler is better.”

Robert and David - 2010 CLE

In 2010 I graduated from high school and moved to Austin, Texas where I started College Living Experience. I didn’t know what to expect when I got there, it was scary and challenging, but only because I made it that way. At the time, I thought I knew everything about life and I didn’t need to learn anything, boy was I wrong. As a result, I did not listen to others’ advice and I wasted a lot of time instead of making good use of the program and the CLE staff.

Meal plan - breakfast

Meal planning is key to healthy, balanced eating and spending your grocery budget wisely. Having a meal plan and proper ingredients in your apartment will help you be prepared to nourish your body so that you can be at your best every day. Everyone’s meal plan will be unique and should be a true representation of your week. Meal planning can be done as frequently as a student desires or just once and used as a guide through a whole semester.

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This has been a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.