The transition to college is a big milestone, but for students with disabilities, the additional stress of finding a college with inclusive services that fit their needs can be overwhelming. Looking for the right inclusive college is a journey, and IHECP is devoted to helping students on this journey by giving them the resources they need to choose the school that will best serve them.
There are a few questions that students and families can ask themselves when deciding which inclusive college is the right fit. Answering these questions will help narrow down the search to find an inclusive college that works best for their individual needs.
One of the biggest concerns most families have when choosing an inclusive college is how close the campus is to their home. Location plays such a large part in the decision making process because it can impact other factors, such as transportation and independence. If the campus location isn’t far from home, the student will be closer to their main support system and have an easier time deciding on their commute to and from campus. Having this support system so close to campus can be especially helpful for students adjusting to college life. How important is location to your family? Figuring out your comfort zone is an important aspect to consider and will make choosing an inclusive college easier. Colorado has inclusive colleges throughout the state, giving students and families options closer to home.
How will the student get to campus? It’s important that all students have access to a reliable, safe form of transportation for their commute. Public transportation is the most popular answer to this question, and many students end up choosing inclusive colleges that are on a well-established bus or train routes so they can easily get to campus on their own. At IHECP, we encourage students to exercise their independence and teach them how to safely use public transportation. Other modes of transportation include ride-sharing and bicycling.
A vital component when looking for an inclusive college is making sure the curriculum is right for the student's needs. Inclusive colleges with a broad range of educational and extracurricular options provide amazing opportunities for students to expand their horizons. College-level curriculum may be modified to meet the student’s individual learning needs, and different services may be offered depending on the student’s needs. It’s important that families fully explore each school’s curriculum or supports before making a decision. Does the college offer student-centered, individualized instruction and course selection? Or is it a specific course and process that applies to each student?
Independence and Self-Advocacy
College comes with an entirely different set of expectations for students. Making the transition into post-secondary education can be difficult for both parents and students, but we believe that fostering independence and self-advocacy in students is an important part of the process. When looking for an inclusive college, focus on schools that encourage independence in their students. Many inclusive colleges offer training courses for independence skills that help students become more confident and handle situations on their own. These skills might include navigating campus and advocating for their access needs, as well as living on their own and acquiring employment afterward. Be sure to ask if the college or program focuses on independence and self-advocacy skills for students with disabilities.
All students deserve an authentic, rewarding college experience. Looking at inclusive colleges, be sure to ask if they offer courses in what the student wants to study. Is the student excited about the campus and what they’re doing? If not, it may not be the right fit. Most inclusive colleges offer social clubs and programs that strive to include students with disabilities. It’s critical that students have the desire and motivation to participate in a fully inclusive college experience before making a decision. Students can plan to visit the inclusive colleges they’re interested in or schedule tours as a family to get a better feel for the campus. Students and families can also scope out the experience by using virtual programs or watching videos about the inclusive college’s campus together.
Take the Time to Find the Right Program/College
While finding the right fit may take time, it’s well worth the effort. All inclusive college programs are unique and offer different experiences, but the decision doesn’t have to be difficult. Knowing what to look for in an inclusive college will help students find a campus where they can thrive and achieve their educational goals. By taking the time to ask important questions about your expectations and what specific services or courses are offered will set your student up for success. Most of all, let your student lead the process. It’s their education and part of their experience, as they step into adulthood with a disability.
IHECP is proud to serve students with disabilities by guiding them through the process of choosing the right inclusive college program for their needs. Check out our Facebook and LinkedIn to learn more about our mission and inclusive college services.