University of Southern Indiana

Differences Between High School and College

The following information is adapted from the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center.


High School  College 
IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)  ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990)
Section 504 SubpartD, Rehabilitation Act of 1973  Section 504, Subpart E,  Rehabilitation Act of 1973 
IDEA is about SUCCESS ADA is about ACCESS


High School College 
IEP or 504 plan  High school IEP or 504 plan are not sufficient. Documentation guidelines specify information needed for each category of disability. 
School provides evaluation at no cost to student.  Students must get evaluation at own expense. 
Documentation focuses on determining whether student is eligible for services based on specific disability categories in IDEA. Documentation must provide information on specific functional limitations and demonstrate the need for specific accommodations. 


High School  College 
Student is identified as student with a disability by the school and is supported by parents and teachers.  Student must self-disclose disability to Disability Resources Office before accessing accommodations. 
Primary responsibility for arranging accommodations belongs to the school.  Primary responsibility for arranging accommodations belongs to the student. 

                               Levels of Support

High School  College 
Parents, teachers, and counselors monitor student progress and advocate for student to seek additional help as needed.  Numerous supports available at the college level such as tutoring and supplemental instruction, but the student is responsible for locating and accessing those supports.
Teachers approach student if they believe student needs assistance.  Professors are usually open and helpful, but most expect students to initiate contact if they need assistance. 


                               Study Responsibilities 

High School  College
Students are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed and often re-taught in class.  Students are assigned significant amounts of reading and writing which may not be directly addressed in class. 
Students may study outside of class as little as 0 to 2 hours a week, and this may be mostly last-minute preparation.  Students need to study 2 to 3 hours outside of class for each hour in class. 
Tutoring and study support may be a service provided as part of an IEP or 504 plan.  Tutoring does not fall under disability resources. Students with disabilities must seek out tutoring services as they are available to all students. 

                               High School Teachers vs. College Professors

High School Teachers College Professors 
Teachers often check completed homework.  Professors often do not check for completed homework, but they will assume that students can perform the same tasks on an exam. 
Teachers often remind students of missing work.  Professors often do not remind students of missing work. 
Teachers might provide students with material they miss when they are absent.  Professors expect students to get material from their peers when they are absent. 
Teachers are available to talk before and after class.  Professors expect students to utilize office hours to discuss questions and concerns. 
Teachers often take time to review assignment and test dates.  Professors expect students to review and know information on a syllabus that outlines the course material and all due dates for assignments and exams. 

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