It’s time for high school juniors and seniors to begin
searching for and applying to college. With 300+ college programs specifically
designed for students with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD),
there’s no reason to think you or your student shouldn’t advocate for the
opportunity to attend college.
Whether you’re looking at colleges for yourself or helping
a loved one choose a program, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Talk about it together. What
are your life and career goals? How do you imagine life after college? What do
you want to learn? What will you need to learn? We always recommend the
principle: Nothing about us without us. So, parents and students should both
participate in the conversation and the decisions.
Research programs for students with I/DD. There
are numerous resources available online to help you discover the best program
for you or your child. Consider proximity, available supports, a curriculum
that supports your life goals, the college experience and more. Here are two of
our favorite resources.
- ThinkCollege.net is
the only directory of programs for students with intellectual disability to
help you find the right college program.
provides a list of 20 great colleges for students with learning disabilities.
Investigate program offerings. College
programs for students with I/DD generally provide supports, result in a certificate
instead of a degree, and are located at a university, college or community
However, there’s a lot to research as they’re different in more
ways than they’re the same.
- On-campus or off-campus housing
- Program lengths from one to four years
- Types and amount of support
- Exclusive classes to fully integrated programs
- Varying admissions process
- Faith support
- And more
Consider presumed competence. Unlike
some high school education experiences, college programs should always presume
competence. That is, they should believe the student is capable of thinking,
deciding and acting. They should set expectations and encourage students to
meet those expectations with appropriate supports.
more about presumed competence in educational settings from one mother’s experience in
the most recent ThinkCollege.net blog post.
Lastly, October is National Disability Employment Awareness
Month. As we’re thinking about going to college and preparing for the working
world, we must also advocate for employers to hire college graduates and others
We have a free guide for employers that lays out the facts about hiring people with disabilities and provides resources to help employers take the first step toward hiring.