How to Prepare for Transitioning to College
While the following post from
Is written with the visually-impaired audience in mind, it, nonetheless, contains useful material for anyone planning to transition from high school to college. I usually delete the links from Veronica’s blogs to make reading easier, in this case I’ve left them in because they are exceptionally valuable.
When I was first researching colleges in high school, I spent dozens of hours completing online activities that help prepare for college transition that I found on my own. Since then, I have been able to share many of these resources with other students who have visual impairments and show them how to prepare for a successful college experience and how to choose a college/major that they will love. Here are my favorite online activities that help prepare for college transition, great for virtual education.
TOUR COLLEGE CAMPUSES VIRTUALLY WITH ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
YouVisit is a platform that allows colleges to create their own tours using virtual reality technology and features over 600 colleges from all across the country. Their virtual college tours integrate 360-degree video, photos, audio, and video so that potential students can explore the campus freely using their own personal technology. In addition, there is an accessibility view designed for students with low vision and blindness so that they don’t miss out on any of the information on the tour. I have an entire post about YouVisit and how I use the tool to tour colleges with virtual reality linked below.
RESEARCH VARIOUS MAJORS AND MINORS THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST
I decided in high school that I would want to major in something technology-related so that I would be able to help people with disabilities to access the world around them. In order to fulfill this goal, I researched several potential majors at my university that would allow me to develop technical skills that would complement an accessibility background. I spent a lot of time finding out information such as how many people were in the program, whether materials were available in accessible formats, and what classes I would need to take for my degree. It’s important to note that degree plans don’t have to be set in stone though- I changed my major to data science after learning that the program better aligned with my research interests and that all of my classroom materials were available in accessible formats.
USE FREE ONLINE RESOURCES TO STUDY FOR EXAMS OR STANDARDIZED TESTS
Did you know that Bookshare has a ton of resources for studying for exams and standardized tests? I’ve seen lots of popular titles for studying for the SAT and ACT on Bookshare, as well as books that can be used to study for CLEP exams. I recommend using the advanced search feature and browsing the “Study Guides” category.
Another great tool for getting free tutoring for exams and standardized tests is the free Brainfuse service, which is available as a service from many local libraries. While I haven’t used it to study for any specific exams, it has been tremendously helpful with helping me learn about concepts in math and physics.
REACH OUT TO DISABILITY SERVICES WITH SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
When my friend was exploring different grad school programs, I encouraged them to reach out to each college’s Disability Services department so they could get information about how to file for accommodations and what it was like to attend each college as a student with low vision. They did this by sending out emails with a list of questions and used the information from their responses to help them narrow down which college would be the best fit for them. I have two posts about questions to ask when choosing a college that are aimed at undergraduates that are linked below.
TAKE THE TIME TO LEARN/PRACTICE IMPORTANT ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
When I first started college, I didn’t have very strong assistive technology skills and spent a lot of time trying to balance learning new information about assistive technology, as well as new information about my college classes. By taking the time to practice important assistive technology skills such as learning how to request assistive technology, how to use popular products, and how to document accessibility preferences, students can enter college and focus on learning new material and not have to worry about how they will access it.
PRACTICE SELF-ADVOCACY SKILLS
Even when I was taking mostly virtual classes during my senior year of high school, I had lots of opportunities to practice self-advocacy skills, which were listed as being my top IEP goal. I spent a considerable amount of time learning how to create accessible materials, learning more about what accommodations I receive in the classroom, and finding ways to complete schoolwork without assistance- all skills that have tremendously benefitted me in college.
THINK ABOUT ITEMS THAT WILL BE NEEDED IN COLLEGE
While I’m not saying that it’s a great idea to purchase a ton of dorm items before starting college, it’s smart to think about what items will need to be purchased in college and how to get them. This includes things such as a new tablet/computer, assistive technology products, mobility aids, and similar tools. It’s also important to think about how these items will be stored/transported and if the student will need to get items from an outside source, such as their state department for vision impairment.
While my college transition may not have been picture-perfect, I’m grateful that I spent the time researching and completing online activities that helped me to prepare for college and for challenges that I might face in the classroom. While it is impossible to prepare for everything that may come up, I hope this post on online activities that help prepare for college transition is helpful for others as well!