Transitioning to College

Congratulations on taking this step! 

The transition from high school to college is an exciting and life-changing experience for all students, regardless of their disability status. College students are adults, with adult responsibilities and opportunities — a big adjustment for students and their families.  

We know this transition may be more challenging or anxiety-producing for students with disabilities. That’s why Disability Access and Inclusion Student Services (DAISS) is here to support UAlbany's more than 1,000 disabled students, from admission to graduation.

We’ve created this page to give high school students and their families a clearer picture of what to expect in college. If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected] or 518-442-5501

 

Key Differences between High School & College 

College students learn life skills to succeed.  

In college, you’re in charge of your own time and priorities. You’ll need to get up on time, do your own laundry, go to the dining hall or Campus Center for meals and navigate life with a roommate. 

College students maintain their academics. 

As a college student, you’re responsible for keeping yourself on track. You’ll need to attend classes, review the syllabus, take notes, keep up with assignments and studying, buy textbooks, take exams and pay attention to deadlines.  

Your family won’t have access to your schedule, grades or other records, unless you file written consent to give your family access. Even then, faculty and staff won’t reach out to your families to coordinate your services.

College students strike their own work-life balance. 

In college, you’ll make your own schedule. You’ll need to make friends, join student organizations, attend events and decide whether you’ll go to parties, while balancing all that fun with the work you need to complete. 

College students advocate for themselves. 

Most importantly, college students seek out help when they need it. You’ll need to identify when you need to meet with your academic advisor, when you need to sign up for tutoring and when you need to attend a professor’s office hours, and then act on those needs. 

You’ll also need to register with DAISS. Unlike in high school, where your teachers had access to your IEP or 504 Plan, you are responsible for self-identifying and requesting accommodations, then coordinating your approved accommodation(s) with your professors and/or the University staff who will carry them out. 

Review the different types of accommodations to learn about what is available. 

 

Learning Self-advocacy 

Self-advocacy — knowing what you need and being able to ask for it — is the key to college success for any student but especially for those with disabilities. 

A good first step is to consider these questions: 

  • Do you understand how your disability affects you?  

  • Can you explain that impact to people with whom you interact?  

  • Do you understand what things help you participate and succeed?  

  • Can you ask for these things from the people who can help? 

Everyone experiences barriers to being assertive, such as feeling quiet, shy, frustrated, unsure, fearful, overwhelmed, anxious and/or misunderstood. 

That’s why it’s important to learn about your barriers and come up with a plan to overcome them. Ask yourself: What stops you from being your own advocate? 

In college, you’ll learn to make choices for yourself, identify your needs and wants, share that information with someone you trust, practice what you want to communicate, speak for yourself, not give up and celebrate your accomplishments. 

These skills will help you succeed at UAlbany and everywhere you go after graduation.