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Transition Handbook

Differences in Academic Expectations

Academic Environment
High School: Post-Secondary:

Instruction more experiential

Student learns by doing and experiencing

Instruction often provided via lecture

Lecture may cover different information than textbook

Instructors rarely suggest ways to learn material

Effective reading comprehension skills more important

Good notetaking more important

Few visual and study aids provided

Identifying main ideas more important

Effective communication skills more important

Student must independently seek additional and supplementary sources of information

Student must initiate requests for additional help

Student needs to self-monitor progress

Paying attention in class more important

Studying more important

Most classes meet every day

Most classes have a maximum of 25 to 30 students

Classes may meet less often

Much less direct teacher contact

Less time in the classroom

Classes have from 20 to 500 students

Monitoring of progress done by other people

Student may rely on external motivators


Motivation must be internalized

Tasks more structured

Step by step instructions given

Grades based on a variety of activities

Assignments are sometimes modified or shortened

Extra time given to complete assignments

Tasks less structured

Student held responsible for developing a method to complete tasks

Grades based on fewer tasks or larger projects

Assignments are not modified or shortened

Assignments must be completed by deadline.

Students are expected to modify course load in order to meet deadlines (i.e. take fewer courses).

Harder work required for earning a grade of A or B

Simple completion of an assignment often earns a grade of C or lower

Semester grades sometimes based on two or three test scores Student progress usually not monitored closely by instructors

More major writing assignments Student must be flexible and learn at pace established by instructors

Student has opportunity to take web-based, Internet courses, telecourses, or distance learning courses

Teachers help prepare students for exams

Exams questions tend to be objective

Just memorizing facts may be sufficient to pass tests

Exams questions may be clarified and paraphrased

Exam questions more difficult to predict

Exams require more writing and essay exams more common

Less frequent exams covering more information

Reader for exams read questions only reads questions exactly as written.(no paraphrasing or clarification of questions)

Teachers trained in teacher education programs

Homework requires limited time

Homework assigned on a day to day basis

Instructors trained in content/skill areas

Student spends two to four hours doing homework for every hour spent in class

Long-range, comprehensive assignments given

High School: Post-Secondary:

Fewer responsibilities

Career decisions not expected

Student assisted with decisions

Limits set for student by parents and teachers

Schedule set by school

More independent living (car, insurance, gas)

Student expected to know career goal

Increased number of decisions

Student expected to make independent decisions

Students are responsible for designing a schedule of courses in which they can be successful (i.e. type of courses, # of courses, time during the day, etc.)

More self-evaluation and self-monitoring required

More independent reading and studying required Student more responsible for managing time and commitments

Student establishes and attains own goals

Student determines when help is needed

Student must locate the appropriate resources

Student accountable to whomever pays for education

Interest in learning generated by student

Motivation to succeed generated by student

Attendance and progress well monitored

Student's time structured by home and school

Attendance and progress not monitored

More "free" time during day

Time management and organizational skills critical

Special education teacher liaison between student, other teachers, administrators, and parents

Student responsible for self advocacy

Student must self identify disability and request services from postsecondary institution

Student required to provide recent documentation of disability

Documentation must clearly support requested accommodations

Help readily available

Student need not seek-out help

Student must independently seek help using effective communication skills

Services must be requested well in advance (ie. You cannot wait until day of test to ask for accommodations)

Student labeled as "special education"

Student possibly served separately from other students

Student not labeled or served separately from other students

Other students and faculty will not know about student's disability without student's permission

Faculty only notified of required accommodations

Personnel talk freely with parent about student progress and planning Personnel cannot discuss student without student's written permission

Stress/ Support
High School: Post-Secondary:

Lighter work load, slower pace, and less stress

Increased work load and faster pace, more stress

Entire course completed in 16 weeks or less

Fewer social distractions

More contact with instructors

Less academic competition

Student given structure

Goal of secondary education is completion of degree

Live at home with family and friends for support

Student experiences new and increased social pressures and new social expectations

Relationships with family and friends change

Personal support network different

Less contact with instructors

Less individual feedback

More academic competition

Behavior problems not tolerated

Student given little direction

Goal of postsecondary education is access to opportunities

Student more independent and accountable for behavior

Student experiences increased financial responsibilities

Student expcted to know what he/she wants from postsecondary education, classes, life, etc.

Student may leave home where family and friends not readily available for support

Physical Environment
High School: Post-Secondary:
Most high schools have one building Multiple buildings
Home environment with set eating and sleeping patterns Eating and sleeping routine altered

Reasonable accommodations in the classroom:

  • Adapted course materials (large print, books on tape, Braille, etc.);
  • Notetakers, interpreters, readers;
  • Permission to tape record lectures;
  • A proctor to read exam questions;
  • Additional time on exams;
  • Permission to use a calculator or spell checker;
  • Adaptive equipment such as a print enlarger or augmentative communication devices;
  • Assistive technology such as screen reader, screen magnification, voice-type;
  • Scheduling classes (location, appropriate course load, time of day, etc.);
  • Consideration of alternative degree or course requirements that do not lower the standards for that degree (i.e. a substitution for a PE requirement);
  • Appropriate dietary alternatives in a school owned food service;
  • Use of service animals;
  • Housing accommodations (if housing is also provided for other non-disabled students).

Accommodations that are considered unreasonable:

  • It is an unreasonable accommodation if making the accommodation or allowing participation poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others;
  • It is an unreasonable accommodation if making the accommodation means making a substantial change in an essential element of the curriculum (educational viewpoint) or a substantial alteration in the manner in which services are provided.
  • It is an unreasonable accommodation if it poses an undue financial or administrative burden.