Differences Between High School and College

In post-secondary education, it is important to keep in mind that the education and the accommodations received are affected by a different set of laws, policies, and procedures.

High School


Applicable Laws

  • I.D.E.A. is about Success
  • FAPE – Free Appropriate Public Education      
  • I.D.E.A. (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)                                                      
  • Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973         



  • ADA is about Access
  • A.D.A. (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title II
  • Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • ADA Amendments Act of 2008


Required Documentation

  • Use I.E.P. (Individual Education Plan) and/or 504 Plan and/or Summary Performance
  • School provides evaluation at no cost.
  • Documentation focuses on determining whether student is eligible for services based on specific disability categories in I.D.E.A.  
  • IEPs, 504 Plans, and/or Summary Performances are not used.  These forms of documentation are typically not sufficient by themselves.  Documentation guidelines specify information needed for each category of disability.
  • Student must get evaluations at their own expense.
  • Eligibility for services is driven by “impact on a major life activity” – student must be able to demonstrate the need for specific accommodations with current documentation.


Self Advocacy

  • Student is identified by the school and is supported by parents and teachers. 
  • Primary responsibility for arranging accommodations belongs to the school.
  • Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance.


  • Student must self-identify to Disability Support Services.
  • Primary responsibility for self-advocacy and arranging accommodations belongs to the student.
  • Professors are usually open and helpful, but most expect students to initiate contact.


Grades and Tests

  • IEP or 504 plans may include modifications to test format and/or grading.
  • Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material.
  • Makeup tests are often available.      
  • Teachers often take time to remind students of assignments and due dates.


  • Grading and test format changes (i.e. multiple choice vs. essay) are generally not available. Accommodations to HOW tests are given (extended time, test proctors) are available when supported by disability documentation. 
  • Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material.
  • Makeup tests are seldom an option; if they are, students are responsible for requesting them.
  • Professors expect students to read, save, and consult the course syllabus (outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of you, when it is due, and how you will be graded.



  • Teachers may modify curriculum and/alter curriculum pace of assignments.
  • Students are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed and often re-taught in class.
  • Students seldom need to read anything more than once, sometimes listening in class is enough.
  • Classes meet daily.
  • Aids and personal attendances are provided.
  • Attendance is legally mandated.  School, community and the family accept the consequences of non-attendance.
  • Most work is done in class.
  • Classroom ratios limit the number of students/teachers, allowing a more personal connection.  Students see the same teachers every day.


  • Professors are not required to modify, design or alter assignment deadlines.
  • Students are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing which may not be directly addressed in class.
  • Students need to review class notes and text material regularly.
  • Classes meet once, twice or three times per week.
  • Attendance is the student’s responsibility.  Student accepts the consequences of non- attendance.
  • Most work is done outside of the class.
  • Classes can range from 25 to 200 students per teacher, depending on the college and the class.  Students see faculty less often.
  • Aids and personal attendants are not provided.


Study Responsibilities

  • Tutoring and study support may be a service provided as part of an IEP or 504 plan.
  • Students’ time and assignments are structured by others.
  • Students may study outside class as little as 0 to 2 hours a week, and this may be mostly last-minute test preparation.
  • Transportation is provided to and from school.


  • Tutoring does not fall under Disability Services’ accommodation requirements.  Free tutoring is available to students on campus. Students with disabilities must seek out tutoring resources available to all students. 
  • Students are expected to manage their own time and complete assignments independently.
  • Students usually need to study at least 2 to 3 hours outside of class for each hour in class.
  • Transportation must be determined by the student and factored into the class schedule.


Parental Role

  • Parents have access to student records and can participate in the accommodation process.
  • Parents advocate for students and their needs.


  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) protects the privacy of student records and limits access to only those with a legitimate educational interest. Parents do not have access to student records without written consent from the student.
  • Student advocates for themselves.


Disability Services – Gillette College

Susan Serge, M.A., NCC

Counseling and ADA Services

Mailing Address:

300 West Sinclair
Gillette, WY 82718

Office Location:

3251 South 4-J Road, TEC 212B
Gillette, WY 82718


Disability Services – Sheridan College

Ruth A. Larson, M.A., LPC

Director of Counseling & ADA Services

Tim Charles, MA, TESOL

Disability Services Coordinator

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 1500
Sheridan, WY 82801

Office Location:

3059 Coffeen Ave., GMB 110 & GMB135
Sheridan, WY 82801

Phone: 307.686.0254 Ext. 2350
Fax: 307.687.7141
Attn: Susan Serge(Please call before faxing documents)
Phone: 307.674.6446 Ext. 2701 & Ext. 2008
Fax: 307.674.3384
Attn: Tim Charles or Ruth A. Larson
 Email: Email: