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WHAT STUDENTS CAN DO TO PREPARE FOR POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION
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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.

JUNIOR YEAR CHECKLIST

September

Bullet Begin the process of exploring and choosing postsecondary options with a comprehensive assessment of your abilities and limitations.

Bullet Understand the differences between the academic organization and expectations of high school and postsecondary education. (See section on "Differences Between High School and College.")

Bullet 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.

Bullet Consider joining clubs and participating in other high school activities.

Bullet Start a folder of everything you collect on postsecondary education. This should include addresses, phone numbers, contact people, etc.

Bullet Talk with your high school counselor to see if you should consider taking a practice college entrance exam.

Bullet During this year attend at least one College Night or Future Fair in your area and try to meet with representatives from different colleges or universities.

Bullet 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

October-December

Bullet 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.

Bullet Meet with your school counselor to review your credits for this year and next. Be sure you are on track for graduation.

Bullet Ensure that you understand your disability and can explain your strengths and weaknesses. You should be able to explain how your disability affects learning.

Bullet Understand your learning style and be able to explain it in meaningful terms.

Bullet 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 synthesis, etc.).

Bullet Fill out the "Postsecondary Education Transition Referral Form" with your Resource or Special Education teacher.

Bullet 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 needs.

January

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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.

Bullet Keep your grades up. Postsecondary programs are concerned about grades. It's also the road to possible scholarships.

Bullet Read your bulletin boards. Watch for notices of college or career meetings, test dates, special grants or scholarships. Read your local newspapers, too.

February

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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.)

Bullet Develop personal qualities such as a positive self-image by stressing strengths, willingness to take risks, social skills, and self-advocacy skills.

Bullet Plan your senior classes carefully with your school counselor. Consider admission to postsecondary education when planning.

Bullet 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.

March

Bullet Be sure to check arrangements for April ACT/SAT. Make sure everything is in place.

Bullet Continue staying in contact with your Department of Rehabilitation Counselor.

April

Bullet It's time for the ACT/SAT! Double check date, time, and place.

Bullet Have you attended a College Night or Future Fair? Contact your school counselor.

May

Bullet 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.

Bullet Work during the summer if you can. Most colleges/universities expect students to help pay for postsecondary education costs while in school.

Bullet 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.

SENIOR YEAR CHECKLIST

September

Bullet 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 mandatory.

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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.

Bullet Make sure that your independent living skills are adequate (e.g. keeping a checking account, doing laundry, cleaning, cooking, and transportation).

Bullet 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 guide.)

Bullet 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.

Bullet Stay in contact with your Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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.

October

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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!

November

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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 office.

Bullet If required, you should try to complete the first draft of your application essay this month. Give yourself enough time to revise it.

Bullet Keep working on your grades. Your transcripts will be sent with your applications.

December

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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.

Bullet Double-check your admission application deadlines.

Bullet The holidays are a good time to talk with relatives and older friends who may have gone to college. They may have some suggestions for you.

January

Bullet 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.

February

Bullet Men 18 years and older must prove draft registration in order to receive federal financial aid. Inquire at the local post office about registering.

Bullet 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.

March

Bullet 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.

Bullet Watch announcements, bulletins boards, and newspapers carefully for scholarships. Many local organizations and individuals award scholarships to students at each local high school.

April

Bullet 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.

Bullet Stay in contact with your Department of Rehabilitation (DR) Counselor. Financial aid information must be updated regularly with your DR Counselor.

Bullet 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.

Bullet Review your "Postsecondary Education Transition Referral Form" with your Resource/Special Education teacher.

May

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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.

Bullet 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.

June

Bullet Be sure to comply with requests for deposits, housing information and other information from the postsecondary institution you've decided to attend.

Bullet 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.

Bullet Use the summer to earn extra money for postsecondary education.

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.

Compiled from:

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

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