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Differences Between High School and College: What You Need to Know

There are several differences between high school and college.  See the chart below for detailed information. Also, click on the PDF icon to the left for a more detailed explanation of the key differences between high school and college. 

  • case manager support; parents typically act as advocates for child

  • accommodations and modifications as necessary

  • special education classes and related services offered based on need

  • burden of identification is on schools (child find)
  • IDEA provides protections and procedural safeguards, like FAPE
  • IEPs expire when students graduate from high school or age out at 22
  • progress towards goals is monitored and shared with parents

High School

  • Student must self-advocate

  • accommodations only & they vary by institution

  • student must provide appropriate documentation (requirements vary by institution)

  • student not automatically guaranteed accommodations/supports

  • Section 504 & ADA prevent discrimination

  • legal obligation of higher education institutions is minimal

  • students have to monitor their own progress; professors won't talk to parents because students are adults and are responsible for communicating needs


Navigating the Waters to Post-Secondary Education:
A Guide for Students with Disabilities & Parents about How to Prepare for Transition to Post-Secondary Education

by Rachel Z. Roth, M.Ed.

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