Community College of Rhode Island

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Transition from High School to College

In high school as a student with disabilities you were provided support services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It is designed to protect the rights of students with disabilities by ensuring that everyone receives a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The IDEA is a federal entitlement law which ensures that the student is successful in the K-12 educational system.

Universities and colleges are not under the IDEA but are governed by laws including the American with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Unlike the IDEA an educational benefit law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is a Civil Rights law, Section 504 is designed to level "the playing field" for individuals with disabilities. Its purpose is to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the same access to education that individuals without disabilities have, it does not guarantee success.

Some considerations as you transition from high school to CCRI:

  • Students have new freedoms and responsibilities and must make decisions on their own.
  • Students must manage their own time and arrange their own schedules.
  • Students are responsible for seeking out assistance and campus resources.
  • Students must develop strategies and learn how to advocate for themselves.
  • Even though students are expected to be more independent than in high school, supports and services are available but students need to seek them out.
  • Accommodations provided in high school may not necessarily be appropriate at the postsecondary level.
  • Many students who did not do well in high school "blossom" in college. Much of how college will differ depends on you.
  • Communication is one key element to success in college
Differences between High School and College
Following the rules in High School Choosing responsibly in College
High School is mandatory and usually free. College is voluntary and expensive.
Your time is structured by others. You manage your own time.
You can count on parents and teachers to remind you of your responsibilities and to guide you in setting priorities. You must balance your responsibilities and set priorities.
You need parent's permission to participate in most activities. You decide whether to participate in extracurricular activities.
Each day you proceed from one class directly to another, spending 6 hours a day- 30 hours a week – in class. You often have hours between classes. Class times vary throughout the day and evening and you spend only 12 to 16 hours each week in class.
Most of your classes are arranged for you. You arrange your own schedule in consultation with your advisor. Schedules tend to look lighter than they really are.
You may have had one or two hours of homework each night. Most of the work completed is independent. You can expect for every hour spent in class, you can expect to put in 2 to 3 hours of study outside of class. So 9 hours of class = 18 to 27 hrs study per week
You are not responsible for knowing what it takes to graduate. Graduation requirements are complex, and differ from year to year. You are expected to know those that apply to you.
Guiding Principle: You will usually be told what to do and corrected if your behavior is out of line. Guiding Principle: You are expected to take responsibility for what you do and don't do, as well as for the consequences of your decisions
Differences between High School and College
High School Teachers College Professors
Teachers have been trained in teaching methods to assist in imparting knowledge to students. Professors have been trained as experts in their particular areas of research.
Teachers check your completed homework. Professors may not always check completed homework, but they will assume you can perform the same tasks on tests.
Teachers remind you of your incomplete work. Professors may not remind you of incomplete work.
Professors may not remind you of incomplete work. Professors expect you to read, save, and consult the course syllabus (outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of you, when it is due, and how you will be graded.
Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance. Professors are usually open and helpful, but most expect you to ask for assistance.
Teachers are often available for conversation before, during, or after class. Professors expect and want you to attend their scheduled office hours.
Teachers carefully monitor class attendance. Professors may not formally take roll but they are still likely to know whether or not you attended.
Teachers often write information on the board to be copied in your notes. Professors may lecture nonstop, expecting you to identify the important points in your notes. When professors write on the board, it may be to amplify the lecture, not to summarize it. Good notes are a must!
Teachers impart knowledge and facts, sometimes drawing direct connections and leading you through the thinking process. Professors expect you to think about and synthesize seemingly unrelated topics.
Teachers present material to help you understand the material in the textbook. Professors may not follow the textbook. Instead, to amplify the text, they may give illustrations, provide background information, or discuss research about the topic you are studying. Or they may expect you to relate the classes to the textbook readings.
Guiding Principle: High school is a teaching environment in which you acquire facts and skills. Guiding Principle: College is a learning environment in which you take responsibility for thinking through and applying what you have learned.
Differences between High School and College
Tests in High School Tests in College
Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material. Testing is usually infrequent and may cover large amounts of material. You, not the professor, need to organize the material to prepare for the test. A particular course may have only 2 or 3 tests in a semester.
Makeup tests are often available. Makeup tests are seldom an option; if they are, you may need to request them.
Teachers frequently rearrange test dates to avoid conflict with school events. Professors in different courses usually schedule tests without regard to the demands of other courses or outside activities.
Teachers frequently conduct review sessions, pointing out the most important concepts. Professors rarely offer review sessions, and when they do they expect you to be an active participant, one who comes prepared with questions.
Guiding Principle: Mastery is usually seen as the ability to reproduce what you were taught in the form in which it was presented to you, or to solve the kinds of problems you were shown how to solve. Guiding Principle: Mastery is often seen as the ability to apply what you've learned to new situations or to solve new kinds of problems.
Differences between High School and College
Grades in High School Grades in College
Grades are given for most assigned work. Grades may not be provided for all assigned work.
Consistently good homework grades may raise your overall grade when test grades are low. Grades on tests and major papers usually provide most of the course grade.
Extra credit projects are often available to help you raise your grade. Extra credit, generally speaking, is not available to raise a grade in a college course.
Initial test grades, especially when they are low, may not have an adverse effect on your final grade. Watch out for your first tests. These are usually "wake-up calls" to let you know what is expected – they also may account for a substantial part of your course grade. You may be shocked when you get your grades.
You may graduate as long as you have passed all required courses with a grade of D or higher. You may graduate only if your average in classes meets the departmental standard - - typically a 2.0 C.
Guiding Principle: "Effort counts." Courses are usually structured to reward a "good-faith effort. Guiding principle: "Results count." Though "good-faith effort" is important in regard to the professor's willingness to help you achieve good results, it will not substitute for results in the grading process.

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Last Updated: 8/15/14