By Lizzie Goddard | December 22, 2023, at 10:00 a.m.

The transition from high school to college is a life-changing time for any student, but for those with 504 or IEP (Individualized Education Plans), it can present unique challenges.

While colleges and universities do recognize the diverse needs of their students, there is one key aspect that will be important for those with a 504 or IEP to be successful in this transition and beyond.

Here are some tips to build up your self-advocacy skills to prepare yourself for the transition to college. Parents can support their children in developing self-advocacy skills by listening attentively, offering guidance, and helping them access the necessary resources, The College Planning Center in South Carolina can provide a personalized plan based on your child's needs and academic goals.

Understand Your Rights and Needs

Understanding your learning style, strengths, and challenges is fundamental to effective self-advocacy.

Students should be able to articulate their needs, both to themselves and to those who can offer support.

It is important to be involved in any meeting or conversation regarding your 504/IEP so that you can understand exactly where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Transition Plans to College with Self-Advocacy

While you are still in high school, you should be working with your case manager or teacher to help create a transition plan. These can start for students as soon as they turn thirteen.

These plans help develop a better picture of what that individual student plans to do beyond high school.

This can include recognizing what skills need to be addressed, planning for possible career choices, and finding resources to help them with the transition out of secondary schooling.

The College Planning Center in South Carolina encourages high school students to learn to speak up for their needs to ensure they receive the necessary accommodations and support services in college, such as tutoring or disability services.Communicate and Find Your Voice

Once you are in college, it becomes your sole responsibility to advocate for your own needs. This will require you to be proactive with your communication.

To feel more comfortable with this, students in high school can attend their 504/IEP meetings, be in direct contact with teachers regarding their needs, and work with their case manager or teacher when creating plans and next steps.

This will help prepare the student to feel more comfortable being involved once they get to college.

College Support Services

College campuses often have robust support services, including disability resource centers, counseling services, and academic advising.

Actively seeking out and utilizing these resources can enhance the overall college experience for students with 504/IEPs.

The key aspects of developing self-advocacy skills are confidence and communication. All of your advisors, professors, teachers, and other staff members in college are there to support you.

You can feel confident knowing that they want to know all about you and your needs. Once you communicate your needs and feel comfortable reaching out to others for support when needed, success will come.

Free download of College “Fit” Inventory for College Planning.