WHAT STUDENTS CAN DO TO PREPARE FOR POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION
Junior Year Check List | Senior Year Checklist
It is a lot easier for the junior or senior in high school to worry "tomorrow" about what
happens after high school. However, with a little planning NOW, and with the help of your
high school counselor TODAY, your move to a postsecondary school, such as community college
or university, will be much smoother. Here is a checklist for you to start on the right
track. You will, no doubt, have many more questions. This list is just a beginning. Are
you ready for postsecondary education?
Check off each item as you complete it. Continue to look at this checklist regularly with
your parents and counselor.
Begin the process of exploring and choosing
postsecondary options with a comprehensive assessment of your abilities and limitations.
Understand the differences between the
academic organization and expectations of high school and postsecondary education. (See
section on "Differences Between High School and College.")
Start planning for postsecondary education
as soon as you can. Talk to your counselor and visit your school or public library. Look
through college/university catalogs and general guides such as The College Handbook. Ask
your counselor about the availability of computerized college/university search programs.
Consider joining clubs and participating
in other high school activities.
Start a folder of everything you collect
on postsecondary education. This should include addresses, phone numbers, contact people,
Talk with your high school counselor to
see if you should consider taking a practice college entrance exam.
During this year attend at least one College
Night or Future Fair in your area and try to meet with representatives from different colleges
Know your Social Security Number. You'll
need to know it for financial aid applications, summer jobs or work at college. If it has
been lost, look up the address of the Social Security Administration
Make contact with your Department of Rehabilitation
(DR) counselor. You must apply for services and your DR counselor will determine your eligibility
for services. This is a possible source of some financial help for postsecondary education.
Meet with your school counselor to review
your credits for this year and next. Be sure you are on track for graduation.
Ensure that you understand your disability
and can explain your strengths and weaknesses. You should be able to explain how your disability
Understand your learning style and be
able to explain it in meaningful terms.
Be able to explain and justify the accommodations
you may need. Try out and learn to use a range of accommodations and technological aids
while in high school (e.g., textbooks on tape, grammar and spell checkers, computer voice
Fill out the "Postsecondary Education
Transition Referral Form" with your Resource or Special Education teacher.
Investigate features of postsecondary
education that seem to suit your interests, needs and abilities (such as size, type of school,
location, fields of study offered, academic quality and demands, cost, social environment,
necessary facilities, desirable programs, and special opportunities). Determine and understand
the specific support services, academic adjustments and auxiliary aids that you will need
to succeed in postsecondary education and search for an institution that bests meets those
Start writing to colleges/universities
you're thinking about attending and ask for information on their academic programs, admissions
criteria, and financial aid. Ask about their Services for Students with Disabilities. If
you need help writing letters, see your counselor and the sample letters in this guide.
Ask your counselor if you should take
the SAT or ACT assessment for this spring. Many students take admission tests more than
once. You may apply for accommodations, i.e., extended time, readers, interpreters, etc.
- but you must make arrangements in advance for these. Read the directions for these adaptations
carefully with your counselor and parents. Be sure to act early.
Keep your grades up. Postsecondary programs
are concerned about grades. It's also the road to possible scholarships.
Read your bulletin boards. Watch for notices
of college or career meetings, test dates, special grants or scholarships. Read your local
This is a good time to start estimating
how you and your family will pay for your postsecondary education. Ask your school counselor
and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for printed information on meeting costs of attending
college. See the section on Financial Aid in this guide.
Review your academic skills with your
counselor to see if you have any weak areas that need improvement. Maybe you should sign
up for special tutoring or for special summer programs to help with any academic deficiencies.
Attend seminars on ways to be successful
in postsecondary classes in general (e.g.,. learning strategies, test preparation and test
taking strategies, study skills, time management, organizational skills, generalized study
skills, outlining, notetaking, memory techniques, and word processing skills.)
Develop personal qualities such as a positive
self-image by stressing strengths, willingness to take risks, social skills, and self-advocacy
Plan your senior classes carefully with
your school counselor. Consider admission to postsecondary education when planning.
Get leads on local sources of financial
aid by reading the newspaper and seeing what scholarships and awards graduating seniors
are receiving. Write to these programs for information you can use next year.
Be sure to check arrangements for April
ACT/SAT. Make sure everything is in place.
Continue staying in contact with your
Department of Rehabilitation Counselor.
It's time for the ACT/SAT! Double check
date, time, and place.
Have you attended a College Night or Future
Fair? Contact your school counselor.
Consider making campus visits in conjunction
with any summer trips you plan to take. Write to or call college/university admissions offices
for more information on visits.
Work during the summer if you can. Most
colleges/universities expect students to help pay for postsecondary education costs while
Read as much and as widely as you can.
Set aside time for reading each day. It's important to keep up your skills in English and
math during the summer months.
Be sure to continue collecting information
on options for postsecondary education. Keep it all in a folder. Be sure that your psychological
testing is up-to-date. P.L.94-142 makes a three-year update for students in special education
Beware of "senioritis!" Your senior year
grades, especially from the first semester, count heavily in postsecondary admissions. If
you do well, it is a plus for you. Although good grades are important all through high school,
colleges/universities believe your senior year grades often are a good indication of how
you might do in postsecondary education.
You might think about taking a special
study skills class or program through your community college or school. Be sure that you
know your strengths and weaknesses in learning, and what compensating techniques and accommodations
work best for you. If you need textbooks on tape, be sure you register with Recordings for
the Blind and Dyslexic.
Make sure that your independent living
skills are adequate (e.g. keeping a checking account, doing laundry, cleaning, cooking,
Learn about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. These laws say what kinds of
accommodations must be provided by postsecondary institutions when they are requested by
a student who submits the appropriate verifying documentation that specifies functional
limitations that warrant the provision. It is your responsibility to ask for the necessary
accommodations and provide the supporting documentation. (See section two of this resource
Be sure to sign up to take an admission
test if one is required by the college/university that interests you. The ACT is given in
October and the SAT in November. Ask your counselor for test registration forms. Make arrangements
for testing accommodations such as a reader or additional time so that test scores will
accurately reflect knowledge.
Stay in contact with your Department of
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.
Create a checklist of deadlines for admissions
applications, test registration, fees, test dates, financial aid applications, and other
materials you will need to submit. Keep all of this in a folder. Make sure you know what
the necessary steps are to have your transcript sent to the colleges/universities to which
you are applying.
Narrow your postsecondary options to 3
or 4. Write for application materials. Inquire about special support services to be sure
they can meet your needs. Ask for the number of students with disabilities who attend and
whether or not there are modified admission procedures for students with disabilities.
If one or more postsecondary institution
requires application essays, begin preparing notes and outlines this month. The essay is
an important part of your application. It deserves special attention. You might want to
ask your English teacher for some help.
Visit colleges and universities and attend
College Fairs to help decide what postsecondary institution is best for you. Do these places
have the support services you will need? Again, it's best to visit and be sure.
Talk to teachers or others you are asking
for recommendations and give them copies of forms provided by the postsecondary institution
to which you are applying.
Most secondary institutions charge a nonrefundable
fee (usually from $10 to $60) at the time you file your admission application. Remember
to enclose a check!
Some postsecondary institutions have application
deadlines as early as November 1, particularly for early decision plans. Check application
deadlines for postsecondary institutions that interest you, and ask if there are early deadlines
to qualify for certain majors, campuses, or housing.
Your library has books and pamphlets about
financial aid; look for special state, federal, and local programs. Continually check out
all possible sources of financial aid. Ask about any private programs - such as churches,
community groups, or minority organizations and write for more information and application
forms. You can find out about these programs at your local library and your school counselor's
If required, you should try to complete
the first draft of your application essay this month. Give yourself enough time to revise
Keep working on your grades. Your transcripts
will be sent with your applications.
To get financial aid, you have to apply
for it. Ask your school counselor for the College Board's Financial Aid Form (FAF) packet,
which consists of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and the FAF. Find out from
the postsecondary institutions to which you are applying which forms to fill out. Check
also to see if the postsecondary institutions have a separate institutional aid application.
Many do. Begin filling them out now and avoid the rush created by pressure from end-of-year
holidays and term papers.
Are there any postsecondary institution
representatives visiting your school this month? Check bulletin boards and the counseling
offices, and then make appointments with representatives of the schools to which you are
thinking of applying.
Complete the final draft of your essay.
It should be typed and neat, attractive, interesting, easy to read, and grammatically correct!
Remember to keep a copy for your records before mailing it.
Double-check your admission application
The holidays are a good time to talk with
relatives and older friends who may have gone to college. They may have some suggestions
Now is the time to complete your financial
aid forms. Send them in as soon after January 1 as possible. Be sure to include all postsecondary
institutions you want to receive copies of your forms.
Men 18 years and older must prove draft
registration in order to receive federal financial aid. Inquire at the local post office
If your grades and test scores are high,
consider taking College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams. CLEP tests generally are
offered each month for credit at participating postsecondary institutions. For more information
about CLEP, ask your high school counselor.
If any of the postsecondary institutions
you are considering have application deadlines in March, be sure you meet them. Many students
like to pick some "wishful thinking" postsecondary institutions to apply to, some "probables,"
and some "sure things". You never know which applications may pay off.
Watch announcements, bulletins boards,
and newspapers carefully for scholarships. Many local organizations and individuals award
scholarships to students at each local high school.
You may start receiving offers of admission
and financial aid this month. Continue to make long-range plans with your family about how
you're going to pay for postsecondary education.
Stay in contact with your Department of
Rehabilitation (DR) Counselor. Financial aid information must be updated regularly with
your DR Counselor.
Develop an appropriate packet of materials
to document your secondary school program and to facilitate service delivery in the postsecondary
setting. Take a copy of all testing evaluations and ensure that testing results are current
(within two years prior to graduation). Packet should also include: high school transcript,
ACT/SAT scores, a diagnostic report and summary of accommodations, and copy of most recent
IEP. Understand and be able to discuss the contents of the reports concerning disability
history and diagnosis.
Review your "Postsecondary Education Transition
Referral Form" with your Resource/Special Education teacher.
As soon as you have decided which offer
to accept, notify the postsecondary institution of your decision. Be sure to let the financial
aid office know if you intend to accept or decline their offers. Also tell your high school
counselor which postsecondary institution you've selected so that final grades, class rank,
and proof of graduation can be submitted.
Find out who is responsible for assisting
students with disabilities at the postsecondary institution of your choice. Apply for special
assistance as early as possible before starting school to discuss your disability and the
appropriate accommodations needed.
If you are placed on a postsecondary institution's
waiting list and intend to enroll if accepted, you should call or write to the director
of admissions to ask how to strengthen your application. Recent evidence of high academic
achievements or other accomplishments might help.
Be sure to make arrangements to have your
final transcript showing graduation sent to the postsecondary institution you will attend.
Also have one sent to your Rehabilitation Counselor. Sign release of information so your
records can be sent as needed.
Be sure to comply with requests for deposits,
housing information and other information from the postsecondary institution you've decided
Send thank you notes to anyone who helped
you on your postsecondary education quest such as school counselors, teachers, and other
adults. They'll appreciate it.
Use the summer to earn extra money for
If you decide at the last minute that you want to pursue postsecondary education, you
may still have a "walk-in" option. During the two-to-three week period just before classes
begin, postsecondary institutions sometimes discover that they still have room for students.
If you apply, you might be accepted.
A College Selection Guidebook for Students with Disabilities, Their Parents, and High
School Staff, Virginia Department of Education, June 1993.
Gregory, M. Graham, J., Hughes, C. Preparing Students with Learning Disabilities for
Success in Postsecondary Education, Transition Linc.
Secondary to Postsecondary Education Transition Planning for Students with Learning
Disabilities. A technical report prepared by the National Joint Committee on Learning
Disabilities, January 1994, published in LDA Newsbriefs, March/April 1994.
The Postsecondary Learning Disabilities Primer, Learning Disabilities Training Project,
Western Caroline University, 1989.
Wren, C., Adelman, P., Pike, M.B., and Wilson, J.L. (1987) College and the High School
Student with Learning Disabilities: The Student's Perspective. Chicago, DePaul University.
So You Want to Go to College; Fishbein, Steven M., and Holland, Betty. State of
New Jersey, Department of Human Services.
Frank, K., Holden, G. (1989) Are You Ready.
Things I Need to do to Further My Education, Muscatine/Louisa TAB and Mississippi
Bend Area Education Agency #9, Feb. 1994.
Adapted from Missouri AHEAD