Eastern Michigan University

Transition from High School to College

Making the transition to college is exciting and challenging for all students. New responsibilities and expectations will be placed on you, essentially from the first day you are on campus. The Disability Resource Center (DRC) can assist you with the transition by discussing ways to be good self-advocates and independent managers of life's details. As you prepare for this transition, it is important to know about some key differences between high school and college.


High School College
Guided by The Rehabilitation Act of1973, Section 504, Subpart D and the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) Guided by The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, Subpart E and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Entitlement - student has a right to a free and appropriate public education Eligibility - student must be eligible to attend college and needs to meet program eligibility requirements as well
The goal of the accommodation process is to ensure that the student is SUCCESSFUL The goal of the accommodation process is to ensure that the student has equal ACCESS
Standards may be modified to ensure success Standards are not fundamentally altered

High School College
Public schools are required to identify students with disabilities through free evaluations and the individualized education program (IEP) The student is responsible for contacting the disability office about accommodations
Provide the resources and program placement necessary for student success Coordinate reasonable accommodations only while deferring to university practices for resources (i.e., tutoring, counseling, etc.)
Parents, counselors, and teachers tend to do most of the advocating and accommodation coordination for students Students are their own self-advocates and managers of the accommodation process
Parents and teachers tend to play active and lead roles in monitoring attendance, homework, and course progress Students are expected to take the lead in monitoring attendance to classes, completing homework, and knowing course progress
Parents, teachers, and counselors often are the lead advocates for the student; these advocates keep the student in the loop when necessary The student is the lead advocate while the disability office advocates for accessibility; the student is expected to keep parents and others in the loop

Classroom Differences and Expectations
High School College
Close guidance is provided for the student so that they are aware of course and overall graduation requirements Course requirements vary by course and graduation requirements vary by program with students responsible for understanding both
Class sizes tend to be smaller in number and relatively consistent from one class to another Class sizes can exceed 100 students per class, especially for introductory courses, and can vary widely from one class to another
Outside of class, study time is often very minimal and students may not be forced to learn quality study habits as a result The general rule is that students should study 2-3 hours outside of class, for each hour in class, in order to achieve passing grades that allow one to retain scholarships and other financial aid
Tests tend to cover small amounts of material and can often be passed through basic memorization studying - cramming can be a successful long-term strategy Tests tend to cover larger amounts of material and require a deeper level of understanding, analysis, and application - cramming is likely not a long-term strategy for success
Final course grades often consist of many different grading opportunities (including regular small homework assignments); poor test or paper grades can be overcome by excellence in other areas Final course grades often consist of only a few major events (tests, papers, or projects) with few other grading opportunities (homework) available; poor performance on one test or paper will often impact the final grade
Good effort often counts and will be highly considered in a final grade While effort is important, results matter; academic performance must satisfy the goals and objectives of the course and/or the degree program

Course Instructors
High School College
More likely to give routine homework that is regularly graded More likely to expect students to read and review notes on own outside of class without busywork assignments
May approach the student regarding poor attendance, poor performance, etc. More likely to leave it to the student to contact if concerns about attendance or performance and often have scheduled office hours for students to attend if desired
Present guided information to help students understand what is in the textbook, what is discussed in class, and to give an idea of what may be on the exam Guided information, such as a detailed study guide prior to each test, is likely to be available
More likely to take time to discuss in class upcoming assignments and responsibilities for completion More likely to discuss an upcoming assignment one time but then expect that students will use the course syllabus to understand expectations and deadlines
More likely to have open access to the parents More likely to close access to parents; strongly prefer speaking with the student about any student-related matters

Social Environment
High School College
Teachers, counselors, and parents tend to monitor and be more in tune with the student's use of time Student is expected to manage time wisely in order to successfully balance class, work, and social expectations
Teachers, counselors, and parents may have greater voice in the activities a student chooses to participate in Students are expected to choose wisely among numerous involvement opportunities
Support is centralized by school staff, family, and friends Support is available but is not centralized; student is expected to create own support network
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