Will my child’s IEP follow them to college?

If you’re like most parents with a child with a 504 or IEP, you’ve spent countless hours advocating for your child to ensure they’ll succeed.  Like many, I’m sure you’re also worried about how they’ll continue to find that success in college without you advocating for them.  With support, your student can take over the role and learn how to be their own advocate, especially since their IEP or 504 plan won’t follow them to college.

While there won’t be an annual IEP meeting, case managers, or parent communication (YIKES!), there is still support for students who register as a student with a disability and provide the required documentation.  Under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, colleges are required to provide equal access to education for all students.  This may look different at different colleges.

Many colleges will have a disability services office that handles the student’s request for support.  Unlike a case manager, who is in close contact with the student and the parents, a representative from the office will write a letter stating what reasonable accommodations the school can provide.  This letter is given to the student’s professors.  From there, the student will take over, advocating for his/her own needs and making sure the accommodations are both met and making a positive difference in their college experience.

In addition to the disability services office, some schools go above and beyond to help their students succeed.  Some additional services do come with a fee, but some are included with tuition.  These helpful options range from assistive technology labs to tutoring to frequent progress reports from professors.  Several schools also focus on whole student growth with social skills and problem solving support.

Best Value Schools recently compiled a list of 20 colleges that offer the most value while catering to students with learning disabilities.  The included schools not only have higher percentages of students with disabilities, they have more complete programs in place to assist these students in their college journey.  However, if you and your child have your sights set on a state school, don’t feel like they’re out of reach.

One state school that offers a high-level of support to students with disabilities is the University of Arizona with their on-campus SALT Center.  What once started with a handful of students in the basement of a building to a large, 3-story building that houses the SALT (Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques) Center, the program provides support to hundreds of students a year.  Within the center, students can meet with tutors, access psychological services, and help develop their own individualized learning plans.  Below is a video from one of UA’s students who uses the SALT Center to help her find success in college.

As you and your student map out their future plans, encourage them to be an active part of the process.  Help them learn what their strengths and weaknesses are.  And most importantly, teach them how to advocate for themselves.  With the supports in place that they need, they will succeed in their future educational endeavors.

For additional support, contact us at www.propelsmart.com.

Get Started

Recently I spoke with a high school freshman who attended a college fair.  He told me how overwhelmed he was by all the options and decisions that are ahead.  He’s a freshman, he doesn’t have to make any decisions yet, but he was already overwhelmed.  I have spoken with parents of juniors and seniors who are intimidated by the process and sometimes we deal with intimidation by putting things off.  The best advice I can give you is to start and take it one step at a time.  The longer you wait to start, the more overwhelming the process will be.  I like lists so I recommend writing down your first couple of steps and start there.  Here are some beginning steps for each year:

Freshman and Sophomores:

  1. Focus on your grades.
  2. Choose your extracurricular activities wisely
  3. Explore ares of interest to narrow down areas of study in the future
  4. Visit a few schools to get the idea of what you like or don’t like about each one
  5. Think about getting a job.


  1. Prepare for the SAT/ACT tests and take one of them at least once this year
  2. Visit colleges
  3. Continue to explore different areas of study
  4. In the spring or over the summer you can start writing essays, the Common App releases the essays for the next year ahead of time.

Seniors (early Fall)

  1. Start by writing down all of the deadlines so you don’t miss any
  2. Make sure you have any SAT/ACT tests scheduled that you still want to take
  3. Make a  list of colleges you want to apply to and see what their application process entails
  4. Start filling out applications



Response to the College Admissions Scandal

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the scandal with Independent Educational Consultants who used bribery and immoral techniques to get students into high ranking colleges.   Sad?  Immoral?  Frustrating?  YES!  Surprising?  Sadly, no.  For as long as there have been rules, regulations, and set ways of doing things, there have been people who have tried to find ways around those rules.  It’s especially frustrating for students who are applying to and are accepted to schools based on their own merit, to those who aren’t accepted to schools despite their hard work because they went about it legally and morally, and to all types of professionals in the admissions industry who see a few giving them a bad name.

Here at Propel we help students find a best fit school.  A best fit school is one that a student is accepted to on his or her own merit, a school where a student can be successful once he/she is there, a school that will prepare the student for success after graduation, that is true success.  Up front we want you to know that we can not guarantee admission to a school or any type of scholarships or financial aid.  We will help you explore, give you tips to improve your applications, and work with you to help you find success.