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Diverse Thinking Different Learning

Feb 2, 2021

For students with learning difficulties or disabilities, college is not out of the question. In fact, many students with IEPs and 504s in high school do apply and gain acceptance into various college programs. How do their learning differences impact the college experience? Well, it isn’t exactly like high school, but you may be surprised by how accommodations can, in fact, be provided in a college or university setting.


Today my guest is Elizabeth Hamblet and she will be walking us through what students with IEPs and 504s in high school can expect as they transition into college. Elizabeth has been a college learning disabilities specialist at the college level for two decades and is a nationally-requested speaker. She is also the author of a fantastic book, From High School to College: Steps to Success for Students With Disabilities, which she is offering to podcast listeners at a discount. Listen on and read further to find out more.


Show Notes:

[2:27] - It is so exciting for Karen to know that there are many students out there with learning differences who are applying and being admitted into college and university.

[4:13] - Elizabeth says that there is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding high school IEPs and college admission. IEPs do not follow a student into college.

[5:30] - There are a lot of things that we do in K-12, but that colleges are not required to do. They do not need to identify and test students for a learning disability.

[6:49] - Students can use their IEPs and 504 plans as documentation of their learning disability for college admission.

[7:14] - Colleges are not required to provide the same accommodations that a student received in high school.

[8:42] - Colleges get to set their documentation requirements. There are no real parameters and may vary per college/university. Elizabeth gives some examples.

[10:54] - Although every college is different in regards to what they require, generally speaking, Elizabeth says that they likely will not need to refresh IEPs and 504s at the end of high school.

[12:35] - Documentation of your disability does not start until you are enrolled in a college or university.

[13:40] - A common misunderstanding is when parents think they are required to go get private testing for their child and that school reports are not accepted in college. Elizabeth says that this is not true.

[14:33] - If the college requires testing and does not find the high school plan sufficient, they will ask for the two elements of a psychoeducational evaluation.

[15:45] - If testing hasn’t happened in many years, it is wise to be tested again for more current information, even though learning disabilities don’t go away.

[17:08] - If all support went away, what would a student’s experience be like with a learning difference? Sometimes kids go unidentified.

[18:42] - Don’t panic if college websites say they require very specific codes or documentation for accommodations. Elizabeth explains why.

[19:40] - Don’t assume that there’s no flexibility.

[21:45] - Testing is just a snapshot, so a history and current documentation is important to have and provide.

[22:44] - Elizabeth lists some accommodations that are commonly available in college. One is extended time.

[24:02] - Every place that Elizabeth has worked, she has had students that asked for untimed tests or private rooms for testing. These are perfectly fine to ask for and Elizabeth lists a few other examples of things that can be asked for.

[28:45] - Colleges do not have to provide assistive technology but can approve them to be used if students have them.

[29:57] - Although they do not have to provide the readers or software for students, they do have to provide text in a format that can be read by a student’s own devices.

[31:15] - There is a distinction between extended time on exams and tests versus extended time on assignments. Extended deadlines on assignments is not commonly seen accommodation in college.

[33:02] - All of the decisions that colleges make in regards to accommodations are made on a case by case basis.

[33:35] - During high school, it is crucial to start working on time management and breaking down assignments in preparation for going to college.

[34:39] - Students need to be prepared to self-advocate. They will need to be able to manage this themselves.

[36:05] - There should be a long term plan for scaling back accommodations that aren’t common in college.

[37:02] - If a student is receiving modifications of expectations in high school, they need to start preparing for this not to be provided in college.

[39:38] - Dr. Wilson shares the awesome feeling when a previous client calls themselves later when applying for college rather than hearing from their parents.

[40:47] - By senior year, parents should be watching their child be as independent as possible.

[41:37] - Elizabeth recommends to not be concerned about the grades your student receives and more concerned with how they manage themselves and handle accommodations in college at first.

[42:11] - Through admissions, it should be the student’s choice to note that they have a learning disability. After being accepted, students can still request accommodations and documentation.

About Our Guest:

Elizabeth C. Hamblet has been a college learning disabilities specialist at the college level for two decades. In addition to working at a university, Elizabeth is a nationally-requested speaker and understood expert on preparing students with disabilities for successful college transition. Elizabeth is the author of a fantastic book, From High School to College: Steps to Success for Students with Disabilities, and her work has appeared in numerous journals and online platforms.


Connect with Elizabeth Hamblet:

Links and Resources:




Want 50% off Elizabeth’s book? Listeners of this episode can email and use the code ChildNEXUS to receive a discount!