A student’s transition to college can be a challenging time for any parent, but can be particularly challenging for parents who have children with disabilities. During high school, many parents played an active role in the student’s life which often included making decisions, advocating needs, or securing resources for them. College, however, is now the opportunity for students to gain independence, learn how to advocate for their own needs, and to start making decisions for their own career and life.
Parents still play a vital role in the transition and can be a valuable resource for students. There are many ways in which you can offer support to your college student. Some suggestions on how to best support your student include:
Participate – participate in SCTCC orientation sessions, tours, and forums. These are great opportunities for parents to speak directly with college representatives and to hear what life will be like for their student. It is also an opportunity to learn about various campus resources.
Learn – learn about the various processes students will need to follow for accommodations at SCTCC. College environments are filled with processes/procedures for most aspects of collegiate life (financial aid, registration, etc.). To receive accommodations from Disability Services, students need to request the accommodations and establish an Accommodations Plan. Parents who are familiar with this process can help their student ensure timeliness of the accommodations requested.
Communicate – communicate with your student regularly. To encourage self-advocacy in our students, we insist that it is the student’s responsibility to communicate with parents. Encouraging open lines of communication with your students before they start college can help to maintain the expectations for communicating information. Once the semester begins, asking your student about their academic performance, the services they are utilizing, or how they are working through any struggles can be a great opportunity for your student’s growth.
Read – if you have not yet, familiarize yourself with the rights and responsibilities your student has under The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and help your student understand them as well.
In addition, read information about privacy and release of information. Specifically, it is important to familiarize yourself with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA requires colleges and universities to maintain the privacy of a student’s educational records, which prevents SCTCC from communicating with parents without consent of the student.
Ask – ask questions if you are unclear of anything related to the accommodations your student is seeking. Contact Disability Services via phone: 320-308-5096 (Office 1-401) or 320-308-5757 (Office 1-460), or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preparing for Postsecondary Education
An informative question and answer article called Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities, published by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.
How is College Different from High School?
A document that helps students understand how college responsibilities and expectations exceed those of high school.
Parent’s Guide to Transition
A link to a Parents' Guide to the Transition of Their Adult Child to College, Career, and Community from HEATH Resource Center, an online clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities.
Postsecondary Resource Guide - Successfully Preparing Students with Disabilities for the Postsecondary Environment (.pdf)
A document developed by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.