As your child nears the end of their high school career, it is time to seriously consider college plans. There is a long list of to-dos during this period, from completing applications to seeking financial aid. However, one of the most important decisions is which school your child will attend.
Many elements go into this decision. If your child has a disability, there are even more factors to evaluate. Here is a brief overview of some of the most important things to know when approaching this decision.
A few things to consider when choosing a school
As we discussed in a past blog post, it is important to evaluate your options carefully when selecting a university. Every family with a student planning to go to college generally calculates the costs and the available programs. However, it may also be helpful to consider:
- Location: Of course, you want to respect your child’s wishes. So, it is important to consider where they wish to go to school. Even so, you may also believe that your child should remain closer to home, especially if they have a medical condition associated with a disability. You may also want them to be near respected medical facilities, just in case.
- Accessibility: As mentioned in the previous blog post, families should also evaluate how accessible the school is – both on a physical and digital level. For example, does the school provide textbooks online? Are their websites and resources compatible with screen reader technology?
- Support: Many postsecondary schools have offices or programs dedicated to providing support and services to students with disabilities. These might include tutoring and counseling services. It may be helpful to look into these as well, especially when you narrow down your options.
- Your student’s preferences: How does your child like the campus? Did they feel comfortable, or have a sense of belonging? These are critical factors to consider too. While there are many logical and financial factors that go into a school decision, your child’s emotions and personal thoughts on the school should play a role as well.
This is not a complete list of the elements you should evaluate when making a decision. Choosing a college can be a complex process that depends on many factors, and it is essential to consider them all carefully.
Know your rights to accommodations
It is important to note that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) emphasizes that, like workplaces, colleges and universities must provide reasonable accommodations. So, for instance, if the campus or facilities are not particularly accessible at the moment, the school has a responsibility to provide necessary accommodations. This might include:
- Offering a specific, accessible dormitory
- Installing ramps, automatic doors or similar amenities
- Providing in-class support, such as notetakers or online courses
Both parents and students preparing for college should understand their rights to accommodations – and protections against discrimination.