Welcome back! This is the second installment of the three part transition planning series. If you missed the first post, click here What is Transition Planning? to view it before continuing. For this post, the focus will be on transition planning specifically related to post-secondary settings. There are multiple options available, and many factors to consider within each option. The process of deciding which route to take can be overwhelming, so let’s break it down! 

Post-Secondary Options: 

There are many different paths one can take after graduating from high school. The first step is deciding which aligns with the individual’s goals, strengths, interests and career choice. These points can be used as a guide, for both traditional and non-traditional journeys.  Let’s begin exploring a traditional post-secondary path by considering the following questions:

  • What size school do you want to attend? (small: under 5,000 students), medium: 5,000 – 15,000 students), or (large: over 15,000 students) 
  • What size classes do you learn best in:
  • small: 20 or fewer students
  • lecture hall: over 75 students 
  • What type of program are you looking for:
    • General education? 
    • Career specific training? 
    • Hands-on learning experience? 
    • Job placement opportunities? 
    • Certification based program? 
  • Location:
    • Think distance from hometown; city vs rural; access to the community; transportation options, etc.

Your answers to these transition planning questions don’t need to be set in stone, but it is important to know what the considerations are in order to move forward. Exploration and decision making begins with increasing awareness and knowledge about what options are out there!

Traditional Paths: 

  • Two -Year College: Community College
    • Obtain an associate’s degree
    • Use it to transfer to a four-year school
    • Offers a financially feasible option for completing general education requirements which may transfer to other schools
    • Use as a stepping stone to a larger school
    • Offers a way to “ease into” college life
    • Enroll in specialized programs that offer certifications for many different careers
    • Resource:  Community College
  • Four-Year College/University:
    • Obtain a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree 
    • May be able to transfer credits from community college if you choose to start there
    • Receive both general and program focused education based on chosen area of study 
    • Receive training for any career related certification exams
    • Resource:  Four Year College 
  • Trade Schools:
    • Obtain focused education in your chosen career interest
    • Hands-on learning opportunities
    • Is typically more cost effective than four-year college / university
    • Smaller class sizes
    • Resource: Trade Schools 
  • Apprenticeship Programs:
    • Receive on the job training from trained mentors 
    • Cost effective
    • Combination of hands-on experience and classroom learning
    • Learn specialized skills that are in high demand 
    • Resource: Apprenticeship Information 
  • Military:

Other Post-Secondary Options

  • Specialized Programs:
    • Post-secondary programs for individuals with disabilities that provide life skills, education and employment support 
    • Includes college programs with a higher level of built in support. These could be used as a stepping stone between high school and college or be where the college degree is achieved. 
    • Programs can vary in the type of programming offered: day vs. resident, academic vs. career, etc. 
    • Parents should work with their child’s school team to see what is available in the home district and state 
  • Gap Year:
    • Ability to set your length of time ( a few months, a year, etc.)
    • Developed to give students a break from academics and provide opportunities to travel, work, and learn about themselves
    • Provides opportunities to work on skills that may have been lacking or difficult in high school before moving onto the next step. There are professionals who can help! 
    • Some programs enable enrolled individuals to make this a structured learning time in between high school and what comes next 
    • Important to create goals with corresponding timelines if planning to take a gap year . 
    • Resource: What is a gap year? 

Discover which post-secondary transition planning path works for you

In short, there are many post-secondary transition planning options available for individuals regardless of their goals, ability levels or area of interest. Understanding that there is more than one course of action can make the process less stressful – and even more enjoyable. The key is to look at the individual as a whole, including their strengths and weaknesses, to determine which path may offer the most positive experience. Remember – this is a journey that takes time and patience, requiring an open and flexible mind.

Purposeful post-secondary transition planning sets young adults up for success in college, careers, and life. By taking the time to explore their interests, identify potential barriers, and develop a plan of action, students with disabilities can increase their chances of having a successful transition into adulthood.  If you would like help getting started with purposeful post-secondary transition planning for your student with a disability, we offer coaching services to parents and students. Click here to schedule a session today!

Written By: Jessica Gale