Students have several choices after their high school graduation.

These choices apply to students with and without disabilities. Students will make choices regarding

· Higher Education

· Employment

· Transportation

· Independent Living

· Community Involvement

In this post, we will discuss opportunities for higher education for students with disabilities in Tennessee. Continuing education after high school may improve academic skills and various skills needed for independence and self-advocacy.

Types of Higher Education

Higher education is education students receive after they complete high school. This education may take place at a community college, a four-year university, vocational-technical school, a two-year program at a four-year university, or job training through Tennessee Rehabilitation Center (TRC). The options available to students with disabilities will be largely determined by the diploma(s) they have received at the end of their high-school career.

Planning for Higher Education

Planning for education after high school is an important step. If students are pursuing an academic option at a four-year university, whether they are choosing the four-year degree program or two-year certificate option, families will need to consider the cost. Families may meet with the high school counsellor to discuss TN Promise obligations, scholarship options, and FASFA deadlines. The same rules apply for vocational-technical schools. Start reviewing locations and classes offered prior to high school graduation. If job training through TRC is a consideration, meet with a Vocational Rehabilitation counsellor to discuss assessments needed and courses of interest. The amount of personal support needed may need to be considered for some students living on or off campus.

Rights and responsibilities change after High School

Student rights and responsibilities change after high school. After high school students are no longer supported by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Colleges offer accommodations but the student will need to meet with the Disability Services department to determine what accommodations will be needed. Two-year programs at four year colleges offer modified curriculum. These courses are certificate courses, not degree courses.

Disability Disclosure in College

Students may receive accommodations in college. However, they will need to self-advocate for needed accommodations. Under IDEA schools were responsible for identifying the supports needed by students. After high school, students are responsible for letting the school know what supports they will need. Students will not receive accommodations unless they advocate for themselves.

Communication in College

Communication in college is the student’s responsibility. The school is not responsible for assuming they know how to best instruct the student. It is never too early for students to start self-advocating.

College fairs and tours are offered for students and families to see campuses and learn more about daily life offered by a campus. Students may also be interested in participating in job-opportunities and extra-curricular opportunities on campus, as well.

Ask questions during your visit!