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Differences Between High School and College

Below is information about the differences you can expect in disability services when transitioning from high school to college.

Applicable Laws

High School College
  • I.D.E.A.
  • Section 504
  • Rehabilitation Act
  • Section 504
  • Rehabilitation Act

Required Documentation

  • Individual Education Act (I.E.P.)
  • School provides evaluation at no cost to student.
  • School conducts evaluations at prescribed intervals.
  • Varies depending on the disability. I.E.P. and 504 are not sufficient, must include the testing on which the accommodations are based.
  • Student must get evaluation at own expense.
  • Student generally not required to be re-tested after initial documentation approval unless additional accommodations or change in disability status warrant more documentation.

Student Role

High School College
  • Student is identified and supported by parents/teachers.
  • Primary responsibility for accommodations belongs to the school.
  • Student must self-identify to the Student Disability Services.
  • Primary responsibility for accommodations belongs to the student.

Parental Role

High School College
  • Parent has access to student's records and participate in accommodation process.
  • Parent advocates for student.
  • Parent DOES NOT have access to disability-related records unless student provides written consent.
  • Student advocates for self.


High School College

Many modify curriculum and /or alter pace of assignments.

  • Use multi-sensory approach.
  • Weekly testing, mid-term, final, and graded assignments.
  • Attendance taken and reported.

Not required to modify course curriculum.

  • Tend to rely on lecture. May or may not use multi-approach.
  • Testing and assignment frequency vary.
  • Student is responsible for attending class.


High School College

Grades may be modified based on the quality of curriculum

Grades reflect the work submitted.

This page was adapted from a reference guide for students, parents, and professionals by the University of North Carolina.