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College Planning

Going to college today can mean attending a 4-year college or university, a 2-year community college, or a technical institute or trade school. It can mean working toward a bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree (A.A.), or a certificate showing mastery of skills needed for a technical career. It can mean studying full-time or part-time, or living at school or commuting from home.

Preparing for college includes taking any necessary assessments (e.g. SATs), ensuring current diagnostic test results are available to document the student's disability, developing self-advocacy skills, and other steps depending on the selected type of college program.

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PACER Resources

Preparing for College

  • Transition Planning for Students Who Are Deaf-Blind
    This paper from PEPNet provides information and resources for deaf-blind students and their parents as they plan for or participate in post-secondary education and training.
  • College Navigator
    A free consumer information tool designed to help students, parents, and others get information on nearly 7,000 postsecondary institutions in the United States.
  • College and College Prep Resources for Students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD
    From the LDOnline.
  • Going to College
    An online resource from Virginia Commonwealth University for teens with disabilities to learn about college life and what to do to prepare for it. It’s also a resource for parents to help their son or daughter learn about college and prepare for success.
  • Higher Learning = Higher Earning; What You Need to Know about College and Careers
    A guide for middle and high school students from the American Youth Policy Forum
  • Letter to Parents
    From the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights
  • "Mapping Your Future"
    A neutral, non-proprietary, and non-commercial Web site sponsored by student loan guaranty agencies – many of which are nonprofit or state agencies – from around the country. While not focused on disability issues, it provides resources on career selection, college planning, and money management tools helpful for all students and families.
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association
    Provides answers to frequently asked questions from student athletes with education-impacting disabilities.
  • Career and Technical Education’s Role in Postsecondary Transitions
    Information from the Heath Resource Center
  • Parents and Families’ Frequently Asked Questions Podcast
    PACER has collaborated with Think College to create a podcast designed to answer questions families may have about postsecondary education opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities. Think College is an initiative of the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Postsecondary experiences can improve employment outcomes as adults. This podcast answers some basic questions families may have as they begin this process.
  • Pathways to College Network
    Web site has a "College Planning Resources Directory" as well as an online library with resources on topics such as college access programs, preparing for college, paying for college, and resources for underserved and special populations including students with disabilities.
  • Postsecondary education for students with intellectual disabilities
    The HEATH Resource Center at George Washington University has a 36-page publication that answers many commonly asked questions about college experiences for students with intellectual disabilities.
  • Preparing for College: An Online Tutorial
    From the DO-IT Program at the University of Washington
  • U.S. Department of Education — Federal Student Aid
    Web site with information on preparing for and funding education beyond high school. It has information geared to students from elementary school to high school as well as their parents to help families make prepare for and make informed decisions regarding academic preparation, choosing a school and applying for financial aid.
  • Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities
    A booklet from the U. S. Dept. of Education
    Youth with intellectual disabilities have not had many chances to go to college. This website provides information and links to those interested in finding out more about the possibilities
  • Transition Coalition
    The Transition Coalition provides online information on topics focusing on the transition from school to adult life including a database containing descriptions of over 100 community-based transition programs for students ages 18-21 from across the United States and down-loadable publications for families and professionals.
College Preperation Checklist

This Checklist from the U.S. Department of Education was developed to help students and parents get ready for college. It includes:

  • "to do" lists for all ages (elementary school to adult students)
  • basic information about federal student aid and money for college
  • tips for filling out financial aid forms
  • and more...
Young woman in graduation cap and gown, holding up her college degree