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12 go-to college planning sites for teens with disabilities

by Mary Mazzoni on January 29, 2012

Your teen is eager for college life. New freedom, new opportunities and new friends await.

But success will require thoughtful planning. Student responsibilities and legal rights are very different in college.

Teens must know what to expect and be able to advocate for themselves. Choosing a school that’s a good fit is key. Accessing accommodations and supports can make all the difference. None of this happens by accident.

Start planning early. You can begin with these top-notch websites. They’re user-friendly and packed with valuable information. Some can even connect your teen with mentors who have learned the ropes through personal experience.

1. Going-to-College is a comprehensive, well-organized site developed with funding from the US Department of Education. But it’s NOT boring! There are many videos of college students with disabilities sharing their experiences and tips. You’ll also find interactive activities and college planning action steps for each year of high school. Learn more about the site here.

2. DO-IT is a project of the University of Washington with support from the National Science Foundation. The site is filled with information and videos about career and college planning.

DO-IT Pals is a unique free program that connects high school students with disabilities to college students and adult mentors via a secure internet community. The learning and networking opportunities through Do-IT Pals can be life-changing for your teen. Learn more here.

3. Disability Friendly Colleges was developed by the mother and son team of Chris and Tom Tiedemann. Special features include charts specifying the support services offered by a wide variety of colleges. Here’s their chart showing the differences between high school and college.

4. Navigating College is a project of ASAN, the Autism Self Advocacy Network. This site features a free downloadable handbook written by young adults with autism for high school students with autism who are planning for college. Learn more here.

5. Think College offers a database of college programs specifically for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. You’ll also find planning modules and resources for students, families and professionals.

6. Heath Resource Center  is the national online clearinghouse on postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities. Based at George Washington University, the Center’s free learning modules and publications address many topics related to college planning.

7. EducationPlanner is a service of the PA Higher Education Association (PHEA). Although it’s not specifically for students with disabilities, it addresses planning topics all students must consider. With sections for students, parents and counselors, it’s user friendly, with links to other key resources.

8. I Need a Pencil offers extensive, free SAT test preparation exercises.

9. Kahn Academy provides free video tutorials for every math skill addressed by official SAT sample test questions.

10. College Boards’ services for students with disabilities page provides information about how to apply for SAT accommodations.

11. ACT’s services for students with disabilities page tells you how to apply for ACT testing accommodations.

12. Disaboom offers an extensive database of scholarships for students with disabilities. Learn more about researching scholarships here.

Nothing can replace campus visits

You and your teen will learn much from these sites. But nothing can take the place of visiting schools and talking directly with disability support services personnel. Don’t be shy about this.

Visit early in the process, even before your teen decides to apply. Return as often as you see fit. Ask specific questions and stay in touch with the disability support staff. They are eager to provide information you need to plan effectively.

Sorting it all out

Do these resources raise questions? Not sure what to do next? Stop back here to leave a comment. We can help you sort things out one step at a time.

Please be sure to share your insights and links to other resources you’ve found helpful.

Planning for college is a learning process.  Your efforts will pay off big time. With thoughtful preparation, your teen will be ready to enjoy a great college experience!

Has this post been helpful? Please share it with others. Thanks!

Image credit: laffy4k on Flickr

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