Making Transitions to College
College life is truly a different world. The high school environment is very structured with support from guidance counselors, teachers, and parents. The transition plan should be planned very carefully in order to accomplish the post-secondary goals set for the student. The IEP team should plan transition with the students’ individual strengths and weaknesses in mind.
The transition plan should be determined early in the high school years. High school graduation requirements may be different from college admission requirements. Once the student determines that college is necessary to pursue career goals, the IEP team should plan a rigorous curriculum for the student that would allow admissions into the selected college. Inclusion services may not be enough. In that case, after-school tutoring or private tutoring may be necessary.
The transitional plan may include trips to college campuses, as well as filling out admissions and financial aid applications. Planned college trips will be helpful to the student. They will assist the student in adjusting to the environment. College life is very much different from high school. The student must be ready for independence.
College can be very expensive. College tuition seems to increase every year. Financial aid is available to those who qualify. Grants are free money. They do not have to be paid back. Loans are not free. Loans not only have to be paid back, but paid with interest. Student loans often have reasonable interest rates for borrowers. Most colleges have work study programs available. The student is allowed to work at the school. In return, the money earned is used to pay part of the tuition. Scholarships are gifts awarded based on criteria such as, academic accomplishments, financial need, or athletic abilities. There are many scholarships available for students with disabilities.
The first step in the financial aid process would be filing out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The cost of attendance, along with other fees should be considered when planning for college. Once accepted to the college, the student should visit the financial aid office at the school and plan to visit the guidance counselor for help in applying for scholarships, grants, and loans. Loans should always be the last resort.
Article By Celestine A. Gatley
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