Supporting Your Student During Transition to College
The transition to college creates a natural evolution in the roles and responsibilities of students with disabilities and their parents. Parents play an important role in supporting their children's progression to the adult roles they'll assume during their college years.
The McBurney Center encourages students to manage their own services to the greatest extent possible. We provide the necessary information so students can make informed decisions. We recognize and value students' rights to confidentiality and self-determination. We encourage parents who have played active roles in their students' accommodations in K-12 to join us in encouraging and supporting their students' abilities to self-manage their own accommodations and services.
Parents can help by encouraging and reminding students to do the following:
- Send disability documentation to McBurney as soon as possible.
It is often easier to obtain documentation from high school staff before the end of the senior year. Even if students aren't sure they'll be requesting services at UW-Madison, they may want to have documentation on file to avoid delays should they decide to request services later.
Disability documentation sent to the Testing and Evaluation Office to request placement test accommodations or documentation sent during the Admissions process is not shared with McBurney. Disability documentation must be sent directly to McBurney in order for a student to begin the service eligibility process.
- Send the completed Accommodations Request Form to McBurney as soon as possible.
This form lets McBurney staff know what services students are interested in using. It is important that students, not parents, complete the Accommodation Request Form. This is one of the first opportunities for students to advocate for themselves.
- View the McBurney Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations (VISA) form during the summer.
The VISA lists all the services the McBurney Accommodations Specialist is recommending based on disability documentation and other data provided to McBurney.
- Check the personal email account (provided during the application process) and the new UW email account regularly.
Students should activate their campus email account as soon as they are eligible to use it. Most communication from McBurney and other campus offices takes place via the UW email address.
- Learn more about the differences between high school and college, especially the differences in disability-related
Pages 5-7 in "Planning for Life After High School: A Handbook for Students, Teachers, Counselors and Parents" provide an excellent summary.
"Transition of Students With Disabilities To Postsecondary Education: A Guide for High School Educators", from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) also provides helpful information for parents.
- Read through both McBurney Orientation and Service Training (MOST) Program for New Freshmen and Parents and Prospective Student Information for other important information and directions that will assist you in your transition to campus.
Privacy of Student Educational Records
One significant change from high school to college occurs in access to students' educational records. Because university students are covered under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), McBurney staff cannot discuss students' educational records with parents without written consent from students. Since maintaining open communication between parents and students is important, McBurney staff encourages parents to discuss any questions or concerns they may have directly with students.
Examples of educational records that McBurney staff could not discuss with parents include the following:
- Whether students are using their accommodations
- Grades or class performance
- Whether students are meeting with their Accommodation Specialists
Further information on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is available on the Registrar's FERPA web page.