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Is Your Child Planning for College? Check out this Site!

by Mary Mazzoni on June 17, 2011

Planning for college can feel daunting for any high school student.  When a teen has a disability, there are even more factors to consider.  Sometimes kids – and parents – feel overwhelmed.

College planning websites abound.  But Going To College is unique.

Why?

At  Going to College , your teen will meet college students with disabilities.  Through video clips, these young people talk about their strengths, disabilities and personal goals.  They also explain what they’ve done to prepare for and succeed in college. What a difference it makes for kids to hear from their peers!

The site was developed with US Department of Education funding.  It’s very well-organized and thorough in its scope.  There are three main sections: My Place, Campus Life, and Planning for College. In addition to the video clips, each section includes the following features:

  • Interactive Activities and E-Sources that help teens consider their own interests, skills and goals
  • Ten Top Tips – a succinct list of take-away tips from that section
  • Reaching My Goals – an action planning exercise
  • Teacher Toolbox – a guide for teachers, mentors and parents

Topics in each section include:

My Place

  • My learning style
  • Knowing my strengths
  • Exploring my interests
  • Accepting my disability
  • Setting my goals
  • My advocacy plan

Campus Life

  • Discovering college life
  • Faculty expectations
  • Getting accommodations
  • Sharing your disability
  • Earning good grades
  • Exploring technology
  • Finding resources

Planning for College

  • Choosing a college
  • Deciding on a major
  • Applying for college
  • Getting financial aid
  • Taking standardized tests
  • High school “To-Do” lists

Using the Going to College Site

The site is best used throughout a student’s high school career – not as a crash course over a short period of time. The “High School To-Do List” (here) show steps for each year of high school.

If your child is a high school upperclassman already – that’s ok – just begin where you are – but be sure to consider the steps suggested for previous years.

Here are some other thoughts to consider:

  1. Check out the Next Steps section on the Introduction page (here)
  2. Check out the “for Parents”  section (here)
  3. Consider who might support your child in using the site:
  • Ask your child’s teacher how activities from the site can be included at school
  • Ask a trusted person such as a relative or family friend to consider meeting monthly with your child as a mentor and guide using this site
  • Use the site with your child yourself on a regular basis

Also, consider:

How will the site be first introduced to your chid?

You’ll want your teen to see the site as a way to plan for the future that s/he really desires- rather than as an assignment imposed by adults.

How will the “Reaching My Goals” feature in each section be meaningfully used?

You’ll want your teen to experience empowerment as s/he learns to set personal goals and develop plans to achieve them.

How will your child be encouraged to follow up on his/her action plans?

We all need support to follow up on our plans. Nagging is not helpful.  However, it can make a real difference if a parent or other trusted adult meets with a teen on a regularly scheduled basis to check in and encourage progress.

How will the goals and action plans your child develops through “Going to College” fit into his/her IEP?

Support your child to speak about his or her goals, plans and action steps at the IEP meeting.  The IEP should focus on the skills, activities and supports needed to help your child prepare for personal goals.

The Going to College website is a great way for you, your child, and other IEP team members to work together toward your child’s college goals.

Have you used Going to College with your child?  Any suggestions to share?

 

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