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Planning for College: A 4-Year Guide for High-Schoolers With IEPs

By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos

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Planning for college takes time and effort. And there are specific things to consider when your child has an IEP. This four-year guide can help high-schoolers (and their parents) keep their eye on the ball.

78Found this helpful
Planning for College: 4-Year Guide for High-Schoolers With IEPs

Planning for college is a big job. Setting goals and staying organized is especially important if your child has learning and attention issues. This year-by-year guide will help keep your child—and you—on track throughout high school.

Freshman Year
• Discuss transition planning and services with the IEP team. Invite your child to attend IEP meetings.
• Together with your child, consider self-advocacy goals you could incorporate into your child’s IEP.
• Meet with your child’s guidance counselor or case manager to review her schedule.
• Encourage your child to get involved in school and community activities.

Sophomore Year
• Explore your child’s interests with her and begin to look into possible careers.
• Stay involved in your child’s activities.
• If your child is planning to take the SAT, make sure she takes the PSAT (the pre-test for the SAT).
• Stay active in your child’s IEP meetings. But try handing off responsibilities to your child, such as having her speak up at meetings for accommodations.
• Check in with the guidance counselor to keep up with college requirements.

Junior Year
• Help your child begin to narrow down career goals. Remind her it’s OK if these goals change.
• Begin to look for colleges that match your child’s interests.
• Work with her IEP team and guidance counselor to keep your child on track.
• Learn about financial aid and scholarships that might be available to your child.
• Make sure your child signs up for the SAT and/or ACT and meets deadlines for requesting testing accommodations. (She may need the help of a guidance counselor or special education coordinator.)
• Visit colleges and meet with each school’s support services office.
• Begin talking with your child about the personal essay required by most colleges.

Senior Year
• Make a list of application deadlines.
• Have your child ask for letters of recommendation.
• Have your child write the personal essay and have several people review it.
• Work with her IEP team to help complete applications. Most are due by early winter.
• Visit any colleges she’s accepted to before making a choice about which to attend.
• Once she decides which college to attend, consider a pre-admission summer program to ease her transition.
• Try letting your child do all the talking at the last IEP meeting.
Graphic of: Planning For College-A 4 Year Guide For High Schoolers With IEPs
Graphic of: Planning For College-A 4 Year Guide For High Schoolers With IEPs

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About the Author

Portrait of Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos

Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos is a writer and editor for many national publications.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Jenn Osen Foss

Jenn Osen-Foss, M.A.T., is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions and co-planning.

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