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Resources for Parents

We are pleased to work with your student! College is a time of transition, and we aim to be a resource and support not only to them, but to you! Below is some information to help start that process.

Overview of the Office of Specialized Services (OSS)

  • Requesting OSS Services is a 3 step process, and the staff at OSS are here to help at each step of the way.
  • Each incoming OSS student is assigned to a Disability Counselor who is responsible for overseeing the student’s accommodations, and for offering support and assistance as needed.
  • During the student’s intake appointment with the OSS Director/Assistant Director, the student will be provided with an Accommodation Notice, which lists and explains the accommodation(s) the student is approved for.

Understanding the Transition from High School to Postsecondary Education

Here are some resources to help understand some of the important differences in transitioning to a post-secondary environment:

Understanding the Differences Between High School and Postsecondary Education

There are four, primary differences between disability accommodations from the high school to postsecondary education level. They include differences in:

Legal Rights and Responsibilities for Postsecondary Students

Legal Rights and Responsibilities for Postsecondary Students

Accommodations in Postsecondary Education are governed by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is no longer applicable. It is important to understand the differences between the laws and the new rights and responsibilities your student will have while attending a postsecondary institution. Additionally, it will be important to understand the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and how that applies to student records, including disability documentation records.

Section 504 and ADA

Institutions shall make modifications to its academic requirements as are necessary to ensure that such requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discriminating, on the basis of handicap, against a qualified applicant or student.(104.44[a]).

The postsecondary education system is not covered by IDEA, but instead by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, and Subpart E of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-112). These laws establish what colleges need to do to support equal opportunity for students with disabilities to participate in a college or postsecondary program or activity. Postsecondary programs or colleges are not required to lower academic standards to accommodate a student with a disability.

  • Students are eligible for academic adjustments, program modifications and auxiliary aids/services, but are not eligible for specially designed instruction offered under IDEA.
  • The college has no obligation to identify students with disabilities, but only to inform applicants of the availability of auxiliary aids/services, program modifications, and academic adjustments.
  • Students must self-identify, provide documentation of their disability and the need for the academic adjustments, program modifications and auxiliary aids and services they request. The categories of disability, the type of documentation required and who is qualified to conduct the assessment(s) may be different than K-12.
  • Students only receive necessary supports (e.g., academic adjustments, program modifications, and auxiliary aids/services) that provide equal opportunity for them to access education. Any alteration in a course or program requirements (i.e., extended time to complete program, substitution or waiver of program requirements) usually requires the approval from the college and must be directly related to needs identified in a student’s documentation of disability.

Adapted from: The University of Washington – Differences between K-12 and Postsecondary Education; Keene State College – Differences Between High School and College Students with Disabilities

Legal Differences Between High School and Postsecondary Education

Legal Differences Between High School and Postsecondary Education

  • Federal Laws

In High School settings, federal laws like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) are applicable. In Postsecondary Education settings, federal laws like Section 504 (particularly subpart E) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) apply instead.

  • Purpose of Legislation

In High School, the purpose of the legislation is to ensure that all eligible students with disabilities have available a free appropriate public education (FAPE), including special education and related services (IDEA). Additionally, it is to ensure that no otherwise qualified person with a disability be denied access to, or the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination by any program or activity provided by any public institution or entity (504/ADA). In Postsecondary Education settings, the purpose of the legislation is to ensure that no otherwise qualified person with a disability is denied access to, or the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination by any program or activity provided by any public institution or entity (504/ADA).

  • Eligibility

In High School, eligibility for special education services is available to all infants, children, and youth (0 through 21 years) with disabilities (as defined by the state Administrative Rules for Special Education, and/or the ADA). In Postsecondary Education, eligibility for disability services includes anyone who meets the entry level-age criteria of the college and who can document the existence of a disability as defined by Section 504 and ADA.

  • Documentation

In High School, school districts are responsible for providing trained personnel to assess eligibility and plan educational services, while in Postsecondary Education students are responsible for obtaining disability documentation from a professional who is qualified to assess their particular disability

  • Receiving Services

In High School, school districts are responsible for identifying students with disabilities, designing special instruction, and/or providing accommodations. In Postsecondary Education, students are responsible for telling Disability Services staff that they have a disability, and for requesting accommodations for each class. Accommodations (not special education) are provided so students with disabilities can access the educational programs or courses used by other students.

  • Self-Advocacy

In High School, students with disabilities learn about their disability, the importance of self-advocacy, the accommodations they need, and how to be a competent self-advocate, while in Postsecondary Education students must be able to describe their disability, identify strengths and weaknesses, and identify any accommodations needed and how to be a competent self-advocate.

Adapted from: The University of Washington – Differences between K-12 and Postsecondary Education; Keene State College – Differences Between High School and College Students with Disabilities

Environmental Differences Between High School and Postsecondary Education

Environmental Differences Between High School and Postsecondary Education

The typical college environment is more complex and unpredictable than the high school environment in terms of daily schedules, course selection, course expectations, and access to resources.

  • Daily Schedule
    – Classes vary in length and number of days. e.g., 2 days for 90 minutes or 3 days a week for an hour.
    – There are no bells. Students must know when they need to be at class and monitor the time.
    – One class might be right after the other as in high school, or students may have a block of time between classes.
    – Students choose when they stop for coffee, use the restrooms, go to class, or study.
    – Classes may be in multiple buildings.
    – All classrooms may not be physically accessible, so students may need to register early to request an accessible classroom location.
  • Course Selection and Expectations
    – College course format, instructional strategies and expectations may be different than in high school courses.
    – There are more choices of instructors, courses and course requirements.
    – Students need to know how they learn best, what type of instructional formats and styles work best for them, and how to use this information in selecting courses.
    – There is no one person who ensures students complete the necessary courses and are on the path for earning credits toward graduation; students need to do this themselves or seek advice from academic or department advisers.
    – Instructors rarely teach directly from the text and often lecture for the entire class period.
    – Instructors often plan their courses so that students do a lot of their learning outside of class including acquiring knowledge and facts from outside reading and library research.
    – Most successful students expect to spend 2-3 hours of studying for each hour they are in class, and students with disabilities may need to plan on a few more hours.
  • Resources
    – Students need to identify and access any necessary support services.
    – Services on a college campus are often more expansive than in K-12 system (e.g., health center, bookstores, women’s centers, and mental health counseling).
    – Students need to know what supports they require and in what office they might find them.
    – Services are located in different buildings and often have different names than in high school.

Adapted from: The University of Washington – Differences between K-12 and Postsecondary Education; Keene State College – Differences Between High School and College Students with Disabilities

Student Responsibility Differences Between High School and Postsecondary Education

Student Responsibility Differences Between High School and Postsecondary Education

The type of high school a student attended, the expectations that their families placed on them, and the type of postsecondary program they choose to attend, may influence the differences the student will experience. Consider the following areas:

  • Student Freedom
    Students are expected to be responsible for their choices and, thus, need to have good problem solving, self-advocacy, decision making, and communication skills. Faculty often will assist students if the student initiates the contact. Support systems are available in college (e.g., academic advising, supplemental instruction, academic learning centers, resident assistant, disability services staff), but the student must seek those out, ask for help, and follow-through.
  • Life Skills
    Students who begin college after high school may not only be adjusting to a new learning environment but very possibly, even a new city and friends. It may be the first time they are living on their own. They may need to learn to budget their money, cook, maintain an apartment, and learn how to live with a roommate.
  • Peer Network
    If peers do not attend the same college, students may be without a support system of friends. During high school students often depend on their family and peers for support in problem-solving, decision making and day-to-day activities, thus they may need a new support network. College activities, organizations, and support groups can help to build new networks.

Adapted from: The University of Washington – Differences between K-12 and Postsecondary Education; The University of Oregon, Information – High School and College: What are the Differences

Confidentiality

Federal regulations protect adult students’ confidentiality, even as it pertains to disclosing confidential information to parents. Students can provide a release of information that allows us to communicate with parents. However, should your student provide us with permission, please know that the permission allows, but does not require, us to disclose confidential information. Our practice is to share information when we believe it is in the student’s best interest. Of note, the student should be involved in any parent communication to the OSS Office, and any information shared from the parent will be shared with the student.

Adapted from: Cal Poly’s Disability Resource Center – Parents as Partners

Contact

Location: C-Wing, Room 205
Email: oss@ramapo.edu
Phone: 201-684-7514 / TTY via NJ Relay: 711

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