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Student Access Center Forms

Key Differences Between High School and College for Students with Disabilities

Applicable Laws

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Title II

Section 504 Subpart E of the Rehabilitation Act
IDEA is about SUCCESS in school. ADA and 504 are about ACCESS, success is up to the student.

Required Documentation


Individualized Education Program (IEP) and/or 504 Plan.

High school IEP and 504 Plans expire after high school and are not sufficient.  Documentation guidelines specify information needed for each category or disability.
School provides evaluation at no cost. Students must get evaluation at their own expense.
Documentation focuses on determining if student is eligible for services under one or more disability categories in IDEA. Documentation must provide information on specific functional limitations and demonstrate the need for specific accommodations.



School staff identify the student as having a disability.

Student must self-identify to Student Access Center staff.
School staff has primary responsibility for arranging accommodations. Student has responsibility for self-advocacy and arranging accommodations with staff of the Student Access Center.
Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance. Professors can be open and helpful, but most expect students to initiate contact at the start of the semester.

Parental  Role

Parent has access to student records and can  participate in the accommodation process. Parent does not have access to student records and cannot represent the student without the student’s written consent.
Parent advocates for the student. Student advocates for self.



Teachers may modify curriculum and alter assignments as outlined in IEP.

Professors are not required to modify design or alter assignment deadlines.
Students are expected to read short assignments that are discussed  and often re-taught in class.
Students are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing which may not be directly addressed in class.
Students seldom need to read assignments more than once, often listening in class is enough. Students need to regularly review class notes and text material.

Grades and Tests


IEP or 504 plan may include modifications to test format or grading.

Grading and test format changes (e.g.., multiple choice vs. essay) are generally not available.  Accommodations in HOW tests are given (e.g., extended time, test proctors) are available when supported by disability documentation.
Testing frequently covers only small amounts of material.
Testing is generally periodic and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material.
Makeup tests are usually available. Makeup tests are seldom an option; if they are, students are responsible for requesting them in advance.
Teachers often take time to remind students of assignments and due dates. Professors expect students to read, save, and consult the course syllabus that describes course expectations, assignments and grading scale.

Study Responsibilities


Tutoring and study support may be a service provided as part of an IEP or 504 plan.

Students may study outside class for as little as 0 to 2 hours a week and this may be mostly last-minute test preparation.
School staff often structure students’ time and expected assignments.
Students structure their own time and assignments.
Students may study outside class for as little as 0 to 2  hours a week and this may be mostly last-minute test preparation. Students usually need to study at least 2 to 3 hours for each hour in class.

Students manage their own time and complete assignments independently.

General Differences


High school is an entitlement.

College is a choice or privilege, a right to access.
High school is mandatory and usually free.
College is voluntary and costly.
Others structure your time. You manage your own time.
Permission is needed to participate in extracurricular activities.
The decision to participate in co-curricular or extracurricular activities is yours.
Parents and teachers remind you of your responsibilities and assist you in setting priorities and goals. Balancing your time and setting priorities is now your responsibility.

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Student Access Center
(404) 270-5295

MacVicar Hall, 1st Floor

Mon. - Fri. 9 - 5 p.m.
Appointments and Drop-ins