FROM HIGH SCHOOL TO MSU
Many students receiving disability services at MSU also received accommodations during elementary through high school. If this was your case, then you are familiar with the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that guided your earlier education. You may have become used to a fair amount of oversight and intervention on your behalf by a team of teachers and counselors. You likely received periodic testing, mandatory progress reviews, and may have been provided with personal classroom aides.
Services at the postsecondary level work somewhat differently.
• Legal protections exist so that discrimination against admitting otherwise qualified students with disabilities does not occur. However, the University's admission criteria is the same for a person with a disability as it is for other students. Likewise, accommodations exist to remove unfair barriers to learning and physical access, but grading standards are the same for all students. Approved accommodations are also not permitted to "water down" or compromise essential course content.
• Use of services is student-driven rather than directed by the institution or by parents.
• Students needing accommodations must take the initiative to contact the DS office and request help. You may instead choose not to identify yourself as having a disability and thereby forego services.
• You may decline future services at any point, even though you initially asked for them.
• Although your qualification for services may remain intact throughout your time at MSU, accommodations are not automatically arranged; you must contact the DS office to renew your request for them to be put into place each new semester.
• You’ll have a more assertive role when working with professors and service providers than you did in high school. Be assured though, that the DS office will “break the ice” with your professors by informing them of your approved accommodations beforehand, and at your request will help you trouble-shoot any difficulties.
• Depending upon your particular high school experience, you may notice some differences in the type and scope of accommodations available in college. Individually prescribed devices, attendants, and readers for personal use or study, are not provided by the University, although you may qualify for financial assistance through an external agency. Specific accommodations are always determined on a case-by-case basis, and you will fully participate in the process.
• Since IEPs, High School 504 Plans, and Transition Plans are not used in college and are very rarely acceptable as the sole documentation of a disability, we’ll need a report from a qualified professional (e.g., physician, psychologist, licensed mental health counselor) stating your current disability. Standardized test results or explanation of how the diagnosis was reached, and a clear determination that the disability substantially impacts your academic performance or other major life activity must also be included.
A diagnosis supported by testing, such as a Specific Learning Disability, must be based on adult measures. Since your teachers/counselors may be unaware that different statutes apply to colleges, you may want to clarify the status of your evaluation between your junior and senior year. If the documentation you have does not meet MSU’s standards regarding provider’s credentials, date of evaluation, or diagnostic detail, you will be required to obtain a new evaluation before receiving services. While the University will not provide or pay for the evaluation, the DS office can make a referral for testing in the surrounding community.