Identifying Postsecondary Options

Students who complete high school have several postsecondary options. Unfortunately, many high school graduates, including students with disabilities, are not adequately prepared to succeed in postsecondary education.

Students are strongly urged to “research postsecondary education programs. Students with disabilities may select any program for which they are qualified but should be advised to carefully review documentation standards and program requirements for their program or institution of interest. For example, students should pay close attention to an institution’s program requirements, such as language or math, to avoid making large financial and time commitments--only to realize several years into a program that they cannot, even with academic adjustments, meet an essential requirement for program completion. Campus visits, which include visits to the disability services office, can be helpful in locating an environment that best meets a student’s interests and needs. In addition, while all institutions have a legal obligation to provide appropriate services, certain colleges may be able to provide better services than others due to their size or location" (Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 2007).

Part of the research on postsecondary institutions or programs should be to ensure that the school and/or program is properly accredited or registered--including documentation that program completers will be prepared and eligible to take industry-approved certification or licensing exams:

  • Apprenticeship programs should be registered with the State Apprenticeship Council and/or the United States Department of Labor.
  • Career and Technical Education programs offered by industry groups, trade associations, or employers should be approved or accredited by the applicable industry.
  • Independent postsecondary/proprietary schools, colleges and universities should be accredited by one of several regional or national accrediting bodies.

For more information on accreditation, see our Accreditation page in the A-Z Glossary.

The following resources provide information on identifying, evaluating and preparing for postsecondary options.


The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
Assists students with disabilities to identify and prepare for postsecondary programs best suited to their individual needs and vocational goals. Occupational therapy practitioners can help design accommodations, or the environmental or activity modifications needed to support participation in a wide range of postsecondary education programs and activities.

Beyond Education
A new website with Key Facts About Education Outcomes In Florida Section 445.07, F.S., requires the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to make available, to the public, an online tool that provides students, parents and others with outcome information on the employment and earnings of Florida graduates from public institutions of higher education - state universities, state college institutions and district technical centers. The data source for this information is the Florida Department of Education's Florida Education and Training Placement Information Program (FETPIP) and Office of Student Financial Assistance. This information is intended to provide students, parents and others with a preliminary view of the type of information that is available on Florida's Economic Success Metrics website.

College Navigator
This website is sponsored by the United States Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences and the National Center for Education Statistics. Users can search for information on schools, colleges and libraries, as well as access Fast Facts on a variety of educational topics. It also contains information on education surveys, programs, data, news and events and more.

Connecting High Schoolers to Apprenticeships
My Future, My Way; First Steps Toward College, A Workbook for Middle and Junior High School Students.

Inclusive Florida Colleges for Students with Intellectual Disability
Provides matrix of info on postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities in Florida

Existing National Postsecondary Sites
Provides a search engine to locate specific programs and includes a list of all postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities in the U.S.

Family Information Guide to Assistive Technology and Transition Planning
Includes information for families on using assistive technology to improve the lives of children and youth with disabilities.

Florida Developmental Disabilities Council
The Florida Developmental Disabilities Council was established in 1971 to help plan individual and family-centered supports for persons with disabilities in Florida. The Council also guides the development and administration of services for people with developmental disabilities by planning and funding research, innovations and programs designed to improve the quality of their lives.

Florida College Systems Brochure (pdf)
Introduces prospective students to the Florida College System and describes how they should prepare to attend an institution in the system

Florida NEXT Magazine
This “guide to life after high school” includes information on careers, college, finances, planning, “What’s next for you?” and more for students. A Classroom Activity Guide is available under the “Teachers’ Lounge” heading where educators can also register to receive monthly eNEXTletters.

Florida Shines
Florida Shines is a service of the State University System of Florida and the Florida College System that helps students find and register for distance learning, plan a career and much more.

Going To College
Designed to help high school students with disabilities prepare for college by providing a safe place to learn about themselves, what to expect in college, advocating for themselves and selecting a college that is a good match for their interests and needs. Each section is introduced by videos of college students who describe their college experiences. Resources include a student portfolio and information for parents and educators, including “teacher toolbox” activities for use in the classroom.

Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI)
Works to ensure that people with disabilities are welcome and fully included in valued roles wherever they go, whether a school, workplace, volunteer group, home, or any other part of the community

National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET)
Coordinates national resources, offers technical assistance and disseminates information related to secondary education and transition for youth with disabilities in order to create opportunities for youth to achieve successful futures. Relevant resources include preparing for postsecondary education, postsecondary education supports and accommodations and self-determination for postsecondary students.

Office of Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor
Contains information on registered apprenticeships in the United States including answers to common questions about apprenticeship, the "Earn Learn Succeed" newsletter, research on apprenticeships and a new Apprenticeship Community of Practice for apprentices, employers and national sponsors to recruit apprentices and share experiences, best practices and innovations.

Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE), Career and Technical Education, U.S. Department of Education
Contains links to federal fact sheets on career and technical education; the National Research Center on Career and Technical Education; the National Clearinghouse on Adult, Career and Vocational Education; and more.

Online Schools
Provides a database of online schools and universities including information on the types of programs they offer--certificate, training and bachelor/master/doctoral degrees. Additional features include a virtual library, study hall, blog, issues forum and more. Be sure to check out the virtual directory for Florida at

Preparing for Postsecondary Education
Provides an overview of self-advocacy, rights, responsibilities and other issues students with disabilities need to consider when exploring postsecondary education.

Rethinking College
Explores the growing movement to include students with intellectual disabilities in higher education through a 25-minute film produced by Think College.

Think College! College Options for People with Intellectual Disabilities
Generates and shares knowledge, guides institutional change, informs public policy and engages with students, professionals and families in order to develop, expand and improve inclusive higher education options for people with intellectual disability.

Think College! LEARN
Provides self-paced modules using multimedia tools such as videos, publications, interactive learning activities and podcasts to share information on topics related to postsecondary education for students with intellectual disabilities.

Transition of Students with Disabilities to Postsecondary Education: A Guide for High School Educators
Provides information on the civil rights of students with disabilities regarding the admissions process, disability documentation and disability support services. Also identifies eight keys to success including taking an appropriate preparatory curriculum in high school and carefully researching postsecondary programs.


Office for Civil Rights. 2011. Transition of students with disabilities to postsecondary education: A guide for high school educators. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from