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Choosing a college

What do you think?

Before you get started, think about how you would answer the following questions.

  1. What are some characteristics on your “wish list” for college? For example, great sports teams, knowledgeable professors or small student-teacher ratios.
  2. How can you find out the college options in your state or in other states?
  3. What are ways to compare the pros and cons of several college choices?
  4. What have other college students shared with you about their experiences of choosing a college?

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Things to consider

Choosing a college is an exciting yet big decision! You need to consider what is important to you and take into account your individual goals, preferences, support needs and financial resources. Sometimes too many options can seem overwhelming, but the good thing is there are many good choices available to you. By considering key features, you can increase your likelihood for success.

You need to think about the type of college you want to attend. Do you want to go to a two-year college or a four-year college or university? Are you considering public or private institutions? You also need to think about the campus size, the average number of students in each class, the programs available, where the school is located, what services are available to students with disabilities, admissions requirements, costs and much more. You may not get everything you want in one college, so you will have to prioritize with your parents, guidance counselor and teachers what is most important to you. Check out the activity for choosing a college, where you will find a list of questions to help you make the best decision for you.

Get equipped

There are many ways to get the information that you need to make this decision. You can:

  • Talk with people who know you best and who have graduated from college (e.g., parents, siblings, teachers).
  • Meet with your guidance counselor to help you explore options.
  • Review college catalogs.
  • Research individual college information online.
  • Attend college fairs at your high school or in the community.
  • Visit the college campuses you are most interested in or take a virtual tour on a college’s Web site if you aren’t able to visit all of your choices.
  • Contact the admissions office of the college you are interested in attending.
  • Talk to students with disabilities who are currently enrolled at college.

Other important information

In addition to gathering general college information, as a student with a disability, you can also find out about the following.

  • Waivers and substitutions: Are there written policies and procedures for course waivers and substitutions? If so, what kind of documentation is required?
  • Course load and graduation time: Is priority registration available for students with disabilities? Is it possible to maintain a reduced course load?
  • Student groups: Are there specific groups that are designed to assist students with disabilities to network with other students on campus? Are there student leadership/mentoring programs to help students feel connected with other students on campus?
  • Supports services: What support services are available to all students? Does the campus have support services specifically for students with your disability?
  • Orientation: Are there orientation sessions designed to address disability specific needs of students before entering college? Are these sessions primarily held during the summer, or at the beginning of each semester for new students?

For students with learning disabilities, consider reviewing the books Peterson’s Colleges with Programs for Students With Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorders and The K & W Guide to Colleges for the Learning Disabled for additional information on support services and specialized programs.