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Support Services for Students with Disabilities

Support Services for Students with Disabilities by Ruth Proctor

Differences in the Level of Support between High School and College

  • High School: The school district is responsible for evaluating and documenting the learning or other disability.
  • College: Students are responsible for providing current documentation of their disability to the college.

  • High School: An IEP meeting is held to determine placement appropriate services.
  • College: Students working with college professionals and/or professors, will determine if/and/or what services are appropriate

  • High School: Once a disability is documented, services are made available and included in the student's daily schedule.
  • College: Even after documentation has been provided and appropriate accommodations have been identified, students must request the accommodation(s) each time they are needed.

  • High School: Special classes or placements must be available for students.
  • College: Students, with counsel from their advisors, set their own academic goals.

  • High School: Specific goals and objectives are determined for each student receiving services.
  • College: Colleges are not required to provide special classes or programs for students with disabilities.

  • High School: Parents are notified and must give permission for any decisions regarding their son or daughter.
  • College: Parents are not notified of services their son or daughter requests unless the student grants permission for that information to be released.

  • High School: Teachers, administrators and parents advocate for students.
  • College: Students must advocate for themselves.

  • High School: Re-evaluation of students is conducted by the school on a regular basis (generally every three years.)
  • College: Re-evaluation of a disability is not generally required if a student remains continuously enrolled in the college.

How Students Can Better Prepare for College Services

  • Update your documentation; be sure it addresses the accommodations you will need, and send it to the appropriate college office well before entering college.
  • Understand and be able to articulate what your learning or other disability is and how it affects you in high school.
  • While in high school, learn how to use accommodations similar to those available in college.
  • Learn how to responsibly handle freedom, making good choices that enhance opportunities for success; learn how to balance time with study, work, and relaxation.
  • Get to know who the service providers are and what other support personnel are available, and then use their services on a regular basis.
  • Learn to advocate for yourself while in high school.
  • Practice good study strategies: textbook reading, notetaking and reviewing course materials regularly (not just before tests).
  • Get your living space and study materials organized by using files, notebooks and a good calendar.

Academic Differences between High School and College

  • Actual time spent in classes is considerably less in college than in high school, creating much more free time.
  • The freedom to cut classes or spend time with friends is much greater in college than in high school. Missing classes, however, is directly correlated to failure in college.
  • College professors spend much more time lecturing and expect students to read and study textbooks on their own.
  • Studying in college does not necessarily mean homework; it means independent learning, such as reading, reviewing notes or studying outside sources in the library.
  • For every hour in class, about 2-3 hours outside of class should be spent studying, whereas high school might have required only 2-3 hours a day of studying.
  • Tests in college are generally given less frequently than in high school, so grades are based on fewer opportunities.
  • In college C (not C-) is generally considered the lowest passing grade; anything lower can risk probation or dismissal.

Ruth Proctor is Coordinator of Support Services for Students with Disabilities at Marymount College Learning Center. She uses this information in a pamphlet to educate transitioning students.


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