Parent Information

How College is Different

How College is Legally Different from High School

High School


1) Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) - is the law that covers high school students for accommodations.

1) Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - is the law that covers college students for accommodations.

2) Public schools are expected to identify students whose unfavorable learning outcomes are caused by a disability.

2) Colleges students have a right to privacy, it's against the law to ask them if they have a disability, so if they want accommodations they must self-disclose.

3) Accommodations are intend to ensure successful outcomes. The school is responsible for the students academic success.

3) Accommodations are intended to ensure equal access and opportunity. Each student is responsible for their own academic success.

4) The school is expected to monitor the student and communicate with parents.

4) Students are expected to monitor their own progress. The student must give the university permission to communicate with parents.

5) A student cannot be suspended for poor academic performance.

5) Any student can be suspended for poor academic performance whether or not there is a disability.

How College Students are Different from High School

  • College students have an adult’s right to privacy.
  • Students who need additional support are expected to request it, vs wait for someone else to notice.
  • Regardless of a disability, all students are expected to earn a C average, otherwise they may be suspended.

How College Course Work is Different from High School

  • A college course tends to go quickly and deeply into the subject matter. The professor may be changing what is taught from one semester to the next. Anyone who isn’t hearing the lectures and reading the textbook probably has limited ability to help a student on lessons.
  • All students are expected to do the same course work and are graded the same way, regardless of any disability issues.
  • The reading assignments are considerably larger than in high school.
  • There are few tests, so the tests that do occur cover more information and count heavily. There can be test questions about reading assignments, even though the professor never discussed the reading in class.
  • Besides tests, there are few other ways to earn points for grades.
  • Because of all these things, students should be studying all the time, even if no test is about to occur. There is simply too much to learn by studying only now and then.

How Professors are Different from High School Teachers

  • Professors don’t watch individual students closely to make sure they’re being successful.
  • Professors lecture during class, and expect students to independently study and perform assignments on their own time.
  • Professors rarely grade students on effort; grades are usually based entirely on the students’ ability to demonstrate what they’ve learned.
  • Professors rarely allow students to repeat a test or assignment for a higher grade.
  • Professors may deduct more points than high school teachers for late assignments, compared to high school teachers.
  • If someone asks a professor how a particular student is doing many weeks after a course has begun, the professor may say, "I'm not sure, so far we haven't had any tests or assignments."

Contact Us

Ability Services
Phone: 715-425-0740
Fax: 715-425-0742
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
129 Hagestad Hall