Thoughtful Parenting: Sending your student with a disability to college |

Thoughtful Parenting: Sending your student with a disability to college

Elisha Colson
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

It can be overwhelming to send your student off to college when they have a disability. If your student has a 504 or individualized education program during their high school years or disability documentation from a medical or mental health practitioner, they are eligible to receive services in college.

When and if a student chooses to disclose their disability to a college through the disability or accessibility office, they should be aware that there are some major differences between high school and college. First off, the college will require the student to request support and services. The onus usually shifts here from the parent advocating to the student being responsible for advocating. Always know that you can still coach or cheer your independent student on. The student is responsible for initiating and maintaining the support for accommodations.

Secondly, the student will have the opportunity to use their accommodations when and where they choose to. They may initiate, change or end accommodations at any point during the semester. My suggestion is that the student makes an appointment with the disability coordinator on the campus that they choose to attend to understand the processes in place.

Help your student prepare with the documentation ahead of time and make sure they have a hard copy or access electronically to their documentation that they can easily share it with the disability coordinator. Once the documentation has been shared and the student requests services, the student and coordinator will go through an interactive process.

This process is a discussion that will allow the student to share what accommodations they need to have equal access to the space and curriculum in the college setting. From there, the disability coordinator will approve and require the accommodations to be put in place in classes through a new document called a letter of accommodation


  • Make sure that your student knows their rights.
  • They are able to request accommodations at any point during the semester.
  • Have your student seek out the disability/accessibility office when they look into a college.
  • Make sure your student has acquired their documentation — 504, IEP, mental or medical diagnosis — from their high school or mental health or medical practitioner.
  • Make sure your student is prepared and aware of what accommodations provide them equal access.
  • Encourage your student to join a club when they get to college.
  • Encourage your student to seek out services through the disability office.

Elisha Colson is the Routt County Youth Services Coalition president.

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