How my IEP transition plan helped me start college with confidence

Today, I’m a junior in college at Arizona State University, majoring in psychology. But the road here wasn’t easy.

Five years ago, I looked in the mirror and saw a high school girl who had been through so much. I was identified with dyscalculia in sixth grade. But it wasn’t until high school that I accepted my learning difference and started getting the support I needed to address my challenges with math.

Special education had been a constant during high school and for several years before that. When I was younger, I was sometimes reluctant to work with my special education teachers. But now I knew that the support and services were there to help me.

During my sophomore year, my special education teacher told me about an upcoming IEP transition plan meeting. I was uncertain about it until she explained what it was. It would be a meeting where my IEP team, including my teachers, the principal, my grandma (who was my legal guardian), and I would all meet to discuss my goals for the remainder of high school and after graduation.

I wondered if I was ready for college. The prospect of graduating from high school can be daunting. To say that I was nervous would be an understatement! But my special education teacher told me the point of the meeting was to help me feel less anxious about what was to come. I prepared for it, thinking about what I wanted for my future self.

The meeting came and we discussed what direction I might take. I knew I wanted to go to college and have a successful career, but I didn’t have a specific plan for how to get there.

The result of the meeting was an IEP transition plan. It included steps for me to prepare for college and beyond. 

Here’s just a sample of the goals that came out of the meeting:

  1. Research three colleges with supports for students with learning disabilities.

  2. Take the SAT with accommodations during my junior year.

  3. Start researching college scholarships that match my strengths.

  4. Create a working resume and cover letter for jobs.

  5. Complete 100 hours of community service to boost my college application.

Over the course of the next few years, I followed this plan. I prepared for and took the SAT. I volunteered 100 hours in my school, in my community, and at my church. I created a working resume and cover letter, which I still update every so often and use today.

A big part of any transition plan is working on being ready and prepared to advocate for yourself in college and beyond. My special education teacher and I had been focused on that, and working on the transition plan was great practice.

After researching schools, I applied to and was accepted at Arizona State University (ASU). I planned to major in psychology. I also researched and even won several scholarships.

During the last half of my senior year of high school, the transition team met again to revise my plan to include a few goals for college:

  1. Receive disability services at ASU.

  2. Learn how to take public transportation to get to the ASU campus daily.

  3. Seek college advising and tutoring when I needed it.

Having a game plan for college and my future helped put my mind at ease. It allowed me to focus on graduating from high school successfully.

The summer following graduation, my special education teacher and I went together to the ASU Disability Resource Center to meet with an advisor there. We wanted to make sure that my enrollment in college services was finalized and ready for when I started in the fall. We also wanted to make sure that my accommodations were in place.

At that point, I knew that I had taken the steps to start college on the right foot.

Thinking back on it now, three years later, as a college junior, I’m so grateful for my IEP transition plan. When I look in the mirror today, I see a young woman who knows she can be successful and fulfill her goals.


Read next