Although the college experience is one of independence, it doesn't mean you have to go at it alone. Your family should always be your first level of support. Keep your parents and friends up to date with how you're doing — call, text, email, IM, facebook, tweet — there's no excuse for not letting those you love and who care about you know what's going on. And when you need help…ask.
In addition to friends and family, your college has a host of support services you can turn to. Counselors, tutors and study groups are great for keeping up on your academics. Even if you're doing well, make a point of talking to your teacher and counselor every now and then to see if you're on track. Join a study group or sign up for a tutor — it's a great way to share ideas about the subject matter or learn even better ways to study.
Mentoring is another excellent way to get real-world advice on a field you may be interested in, or how an adult with a disability has handled the transition from high school to post-secondary education or employment. What better way to learn about something than from a person already doing it. Chapters for Disability Mentoring Day are available statewide — visit your local independent living center www.cfilc.org or disabilitymentor.net to find a list of mentors.
And, don't forget internships. These are a valuable way to gain experience in a field of interest, and maybe even gain a contact for a great job after college graduation. Look to the college internship boards for opportunities.
"Accommodations" refers to changes in classroom or exam setting needed to lessen the impact of a disability. It can include testing accommodations (i.e. more time for tests or test taking in a quite environment), sign language interpreting, classroom materials in an accessible format you can use (such as large print, electronic text, or Braille), lab assistance, reduced college course load (taking fewer classes), adapted seating and more.
It is important to know that colleges and universities do not have to provide accommodations if they drastically change the curriculum of the class.
Each college has its own set of services that they will provide, some of which are required by law. You should find out what services and programs exist and what your college of interest will and will not do. For more information, one of several great websites to visit is: www.heath.gwu.edu. And of course, you should talk to the college's Disabled Student Services office or Disability Services Coordinator.
While some requirements that apply through high school will continue to apply upon leaving high school and entering post-secondary education, many rights and how they are addressed will change. It's important that you understand these changes. This section will briefly cover the basics. For more detailed information, please obtain a copy of the ADA Section 504 and Title II by contacting: www.ed.gov/ocr/docs/auxaids.html
For more information on your civil rights and access to FAQ's, visit: www.ed.gov/policy/rights/guid/ocr/disability.html.