This blog provides tips on how to make the transition from high school to college. It also offers advice on how to manage time and set goals. Finally, it gives information on how to find support and resources.

When you hear someone say transition planning, what comes to mind? It is a very broad concept, that when done correctly, will look different for each person. There is no cookie cutter model to follow. How transition planning is executed varies based on age, grade level, previous experiences, access and areas of interest – just to name a few. Since there are multiple considerations this will be a three part series to provide a general overview along with connections to school success, and then a focus on employment and post secondary education information and resources.

Okay, let’s get started! In my experience as a special education teacher, transition planning has been at the forefront of all my work in the classroom. I have found it to be an effective way to support academic engagement, motivation and with connecting students to the big picture – the WHY of the school experience. Also, it prepares people for what is next – middle school, high school, college, career, etc.. It does this to relieve stress and increase confidence around this topic. This was the case for students with an IEP, 504 plan and those without documented accommodations and supports.

Interest Inventories: 

I have learned that starting with exploring strengths, challenges and general areas of interest helps to frame the rest of the work surrounding transition plans. Interest inventories can be used with elementary, middle, high school and college students. A barrier to effective transition planning can be the inability to make decisions and that can be related to individuals not understanding who they are, how their interests relate to their future, how to organize this information and apply it to their lives. Here are sample of inventories at different levels:

Now What?


Evaluating the results of the inventories with the individual is an important step in the process. This way they are involved in each step of the process, can ask questions, offer feedback and be part of the goal setting process. This will also help to break down the information into manageable pieces so that this topic is not overwhelming and/or uncomfortable for the person to talk about.


After the results are evaluated and organized, the key will be to make the connection to their current situation and experience that can be used to plan for the future. One way to do this is through asking questions like:

  • Are you taking elective classes in your area of interest?
  • How do you use your strengths in school?
  • How will your strengths prepare you for going to the next grade level?
  • Do your challenges get in the way of what you want to do?
  • Are there any clubs you can join related to your interests and strengths.

When identifying how to apply these concepts, a way to promote involvement from the individual is to offer options. Having choice is a powerful tool for developing “buy in” for the process and encouraging action. There could be unlimited options for where to start so the best thing we, support providers*, can do is pair down the list and then offer choice. An example of this would be to say something like, do you want to start with course selection or with looking at available clubs? Both are working towards the same goal (school involvement) but allows the individual to pick the starting point they are most comfortable with.

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 in the upcoming months to delve deeper into transition planning as it relates to post-secondary education and employment.

* In this context, the term ‘support provider’ includes family members, educators, clinicians, school counselors, etc. Anyone who is working with someone on these skills.*

Blog Author
Jessica Gale
EEC Certified Executive Function Coach / Transition Coach