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Services in High School vs. College

This document compares services and accommodations between high school and post secondary education.

Laws and Responsibilities

High School:  

  • Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
  • Covers ages 3-21 or until regular high school diploma requirements are met
  • School attendance is mandatory
  • Districts are required to identify students with disabilities through free assessment and the IEP process
  • Students receive special education and related services to address needs based on an identified disability
  • Services include individually designed instruction modifications and accommodations based on the IEP
  • Individual student's needs based on the IEP may be addressed by program support for school personnel
  • Progress toward IEP goals is monitored and communicated to the parent(s) and/or the student
  • Schools assist in connecting the student with community support agencies if so identified as a transition need according to the IEP

College:

  • Section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility and reasonable accommodations
  • Covers students with disabilities regardless of age; schools may not discriminate in recruitment, admission or after admission, solely on the basis of a disability
  • Students decided to attend and will probably pay tuition
  • Students are responsible for revealing and providing current documentation of a disability - they must be self-advocates
  • Formal special education services are not available
  • Reasonable accommodations and modifications may be made to provide equal access and participation
  • No formal program support for school personnel is provided
  • Students are required to monitor their own progress and communicate their needs to instructors
  • Students are responsible for making their own connections with community support agencies  

Classes

High School:

  • Usually follow a school-directed schedule and proceed from one class to another
  • General education classes dictated by state/district requirements
  • Typically, a school year is 36 weeks long; some classes extend over both semesters. Summer classes may be offered but are not used to accelerate graduation
  • Class attendance is usually mandatory and monitored carefully
  • Classes generally have no more than 30-35 students
  • Textbooks are typically provided at little or no expense
  • Guidance is provided for students so they will be aware of graduation requirements
  • Modifications that change course outcomes may be offered based on the IEP

College  

  • Individual students must manage their own time and schedules
  • Class based on field of study; requirements may vary
  • Academic year is divided into two separate 15 week semesters plus a week for final exams (Hint: Some institutions are on a trimester schedule) Courses are offered fall, spring, and summer semesters and summer classes may be used to accelerate graduation
  • Attendance policies vary with each instructor (Hint: Lack of attendance may impact performance)
  • Classes may have 100 students or more
  • Textbooks can be expensive. (Hint: An anticipated range for a full-time student is $250-$500 per semester)
  • Graduation requirements are complex and vary for different fields of study (Hint: YOU are responsible for monitoring your progress and seeking advice)
  • Modifications that change course outcomes with not be offered (Hint: Modified high school courses may not be accepted in the admission process)

Instructors

High School:

  • Grade and check completed homework
  • May remind students of incomplete assignments
  • May know students' needs and approach students when they need assistance
  • May be available before, during, and after class
  • Have been trained in teaching methods
  • Often provide students with information missed during absence
  • Present material to help students understand what is in the textbook
  • Often write information on the board or overhead to be copied for notes
  • Teach knowledge and facts, leading students through the thinking process
  • Often take time to remind students of assignments and test dates

College:

  • May assume homework is completed and students are able to perform on a test
  • May not remind student of incomplete assignments (Hint: It's YOUR responsibility to check with your instructor to see if requirements are being met)
  • Are usually open and helpful but expect students to initiate contact when assistance is needed
  • May require students to attend scheduled office hours
  • Have content knowledge but not necessarily formal teaching methods
  • Expect students to get information from classmates when they miss a class
  • May not follow the textbook, but lectures enhance the topic area (Hint: You need to connect lectures and textbook)
  • May lecture non-stop - if they write on the board, it may be to support the lecture, not to summarize it (Hint: Good notes are a must or a tape recorder may be used)
  • Expect students to think independently and connect seemingly unrelated information
  • Expect students to read, save, and refer back to course syllabus

Studying

High School:

  • Study time outside of class may vary (May be as little as 1-3 hours per week)
  • Instructors may review class notes and text material regularly for classes
  • Expected to read short assignments that are discussed and re-taught

College:

  • Generally need to study at least 2-3 hours outside of class for each hour in class
  • Students should review class notes and text material regularly (Hint: Use the time between classes carefully)
  • Substantial amounts of assigned reading and writing may not be directly addressed in class (Hint: It's up to you to read and understand the assigned material or access support, such as books on tape)

Testing

High School:

  • Frequent coverage of small amounts of material
  • Make-up tests are often available
  • Test dates can be arranged to avoid conflicts with other events
  • Frequently conducts review sessions emphasizing important concepts prior to tests

College:

  • Usually infrequent (2-3 times a semester). May be cumulative and cover large amounts of material (Hint: YOU need to organize material to prepare for tests)
  • Some classes may require only papers and/or projects instead of tests
  • Make-up tests are seldom an option and may have to be requested
  • Usually, scheduled tests are without regard to other demands
  • Faculty rarely offer review sessions; if so, students are expected to be prepared and be active participants, or find study groups

Grades

High School:

  • Given for most assigned work
  • Good homework grades may assist in raising overall grade when test grades are lower
  • Extra credit options are often available
  • Initial test grades, especially when low, may not have an adverse effect on grade
  • Graduation requirements may be met with a grade of D or higher

College:

  • May not be provided for all assigned work
  • Tests and major papers provide the majority of the grade
  • Generally speaking, extra credit options are not used to raise a grade
  • First tests are often "wake up" calls to let you know what is to be expected (Hint: Watch out! They may account for a substantial part of your final grade - contact the instructor if you do poorly)
  • Requirements may not be met only if the student's average meets departmental standards (Hint: Generally 2.0 or higher)

Other Factors to Consider

High School:

  • State and/or district policies may determine eligibility for participation in extracurricular activities
  • Parents typically manage finances for school-related activities
  • Parents and teachers may provide support, guidance, and setting priorities

College:

  • Postsecondary institution policies may determine eligibility for participation in extracurricular activities
  • Students are responsible for money management for basic needs and extra spending money (Hint: outside jobs may be necessary and one or more "activities" to consider for time management)
  • Students are responsible for setting their own priorities