Center for Students with Disabilities

Transitioning to College

Considering UWW?

College is very different from high school or community college. Here is information to assist you in your transition to UW-Whitewater:

As a high school freshman you may not have put any serious thought into attending a college or university. By the time you are 14 and a half years old, you must complete your Transition Plan with your Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team. The Transition Plan sets up a timetable for your transition into the world of work or post-secondary education.

Now it is the time to start thinking about what you would like to do with your future. Is more education important to you? What interests you? Is there something you would like to explore as a career interest? Does that interest require a bachelor's degree or an even higher degree? Who have you talked to about your interest? Is there somebody who you know who does the very thing you're interested in doing?

College and universities are going to be asking for your transcript of your high school years, including your freshman year. Are your grades good enough to get into a university or college? Do you need to improve your grades and how would you go about doing that?

Remember - the time to choose a university is not late in your senior year but early in your junior year. It's coming fast and you need to be prepared!

Sophomore year is the time to start researching colleges and universities. Early in your senior year you will apply to colleges and universities that interest you, so you have one more year to decide what your educational direction will be after high school. If UW-Whitewater is one of your selections, we recommend you submit your application for admission as soon as possible during the fall semester of your senior year.

Remember that you're trying to find the best fit for your educational goals, your social interests, and your accommodation needs. For example, if you are accustomed to taking your exams with unlimited time, ask the college how it would work at their institution. Sometime during your sophomore or junior year we recommend you go through additional testing and psychological or cognitive assessments to document your disability. See UW-Whitewater's Disability Documentation Policies.

Start your research by checking out schools on their websites, and ask anyone you know who has attended that school about it. Visit universities if you can. UW-Whitewater has Campus Premiere Days and Campus Tours throughout the year. Be sure you contact the college's Admissions department in advance to schedule your visit and make any plans for accommodations you may need for your campus visit.

Now is also a good time to investigate the eligibility requirements and services available through your local Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) or Department of Human Services office. How can this office help you prepare for college and what services might they provide once you are a college student?

Additionally, the Center for Students with Disabilities holds an annual conference to start planning for your future. The Opening Horizons Conference is a free event that helps students, parents, and educators engage in learning about transition areas pertinent to high school age students with disabilities. Sessions have typically covered services/accommodations available at the Center for Students with Disabilities at UW-Whitewater, documentation guidelines, self-advocacy skills, and other relevant topics.

This year you will take the ACT and/or the SAT, possibly be reevaluated for your disability, and visit universities and colleges.

Remember to set up accommodations for the ACT/SAT ahead of time. Many colleges and universities have a minimum requirement score on these tests. If you don't meet the minimum requirement, take the test again. You are not penalized for taking the test more than once. Only your highest score will be considered by admissions offices.

Decide which institutions you will apply to. Have multiple options in case you are not accepted at your first choice. Look into the local community and technical colleges. The first two years at a community college and a university are mostly general education courses, so they are very similar. If you complete an associate's degree at a community college and then transfer to a university to complete a bachelor's degree, you will graduate with two degrees.

University of Wisconsin Colleges

Wisconsin Technical Colleges

Apply to universities and colleges early in your senior year. Typically, there is no special application for students with disabilities. UW-Whitewater does have a program of opportunity for students with disabilities who are just shy of meeting admission requirements. We therefore recommend that all students with disabilities and health conditions self-disclose in their personal statement.

September 1 - November 15 is the priority filing period. During this time, you might be accepted if you meet or exceed the minimum admissions requirements. After November 15, the office of admissions may increase admissions requirements and may no longer look at applicants who just meet the minimum.  For example, if you have an 18 on your ACT, you are in the 52 percentile of your class, meet all UW-Whitewater high school course requirements, and have a 2.77 GPA, it is recommended that you apply before November 15.

Students planning on transferring to UW-Whitewater need to consider that accommodations at UW-Whitewater may be different from your previous school. If you had accommodations at your previous institution, contact us. Submit your CSD application and documentation once you have been accepted to UW-Whitewater. If you did not have accommodations at your previous institution you may need to update your documentation. See Guidelines for Documentation. We recommend you complete your core competency courses before transferring to UW-Whitewater. For more information regarding core competency courses and transferable credits, see Transfer Admissions.

If you are attending a community college, it can be advantageous to complete your Associate's degree and transfer in as a junior. If you have less than 24 transferable credit hours you may be considered by admissions as a freshman applicant. That means you have to fulfill all freshman admissions criteria, including minimum ACT score, high school class standing, GPA, etc. See Freshman Admission Criteria.

If you are accepted to UW-Whitewater and plan to attend:

  • Follow "The Next Steps" outlined the Office of Admissions

  • Apply for services through the online portal.  Having your documentation ready to upload with your application is strongly preferred, but not necessary to begin the process.  Acceptable documentation will be required to continue receiving services.

  • Before Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR), call (262) 472-4711 to schedule an intake meeting with your CSD Disability Services Coordinator to set up your accommodations and/or services

  • Students with complex physical disabilities and/or chronic health impairments may require a Pre-enrollment appointment. If you believe you will require one of these appointments please call our front desk at (262) 472-4711 to find out more information.

Information adapted, with thanks, from the Center for Access-Ability Resources at Northern Illinois University 

Opening Horizons Conference

Planning for the transition from high school to college is an exciting and sometimes confusing time. There are so many things to consider and decisions to make. The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Center for Students with Disabilities sponsors the annual Opening Horizons conference every spring. This event targets students, parents, teachers and other interested individuals to explore the many aspects related to the post-secondary setting for students with disabilities. The conference will provide the participants with an opportunity to hear from a variety of presenters and gather information from on and off campus resources.

Opening Doors to Postsecondary Education and Training

This publication is provided by Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction and provides excellent tips and a workbook for transition from high school.

Click here to download the [PDF]