College Readiness & Students with Disabilities

Prepared By:
Gina McGranahan, M Ed Assistant Director Disability Services
​YSU Center for Student Progress

How do you know if a student with a disability is ready for college?

*Adapted form Landmark College’s A Guide to Assessing College Readiness

Academic Skills

  • Can the student comprehend up to 200 pages a week? (with or without accommodations)
  • Do they have a system for taking notes?
  • Can the student write a paper of five or more organized pages that refers to two or more sources?
  • Do they have a system for preparing for tests or exams?
  • Can they clearly summarize a college level reading assignment?

Scoring below a three in this area indicates that a student would benefit from more instruction in academic skills.
Free Adult Education Classes are offered through the Youngstown City Schools ABLE Program
Students can work on these skills before entering college


  • Can they define or describe the diagnosis of their disability?
  • Have they read their psycho-educational testing?
  • Do they know their academic strengths?
  • Do they know which academic tasks give them the most difficulty?
  • Can they identify what academic supports they need to be successful?

A score lower than three in this area indicates a student needs to learn more self awareness.
A student’s teacher or parent can work with the student in learning their educational strengths and weaknesses
The student must learn to use their strengths to remediate their weaknesses. 


  • When they run into difficulty, do they ask for help?
  • Do they schedule their own appointments with doctors, advisors and counselors?
  • Do they have access to their psycho-educational testing?
  • If they feel a need more assistance than they are getting, would they ask for it?
  • Can they speak to adults or other students about their educational needs?

A score of less than three in self-advocacy indicates that a student needs to learn to be independent, ask for what they need, and know who to ask for assistance.
Parents and teachers can assist the student by requiring the student to be responsible for things in their daily life. They need to learn to ask for assistance when needed.
At CSP Disability Services we will work with the students on self-advocacy with professors and when asked, assist them in finding out where to get assistance on campus.

Executive Function

  • Do they have a system for keeping track of their projects, books and papers?
  • Do they have a system for scheduling and managing their time?
  • Are they able to ignore difficulties and focus on the task at hand?
  • Are they able to complete the steps of a project in a timely manner?
  • Do they have a strategy to complete tasks they find boring?

Scoring below a three in this section means the student would benefit from focused instruction on executive function.
A student must be able to keep track of assignments, time management and working independently.
The Center for Student Progress can assist with setting up this system, but ultimately the student must be responsible for turning in their work and studying for tests themselves.

Motivation and Confidence

  • Do they have an academic subject they find interesting?
  • Do they know what they want to get out of college?
  • Do they know that they can succeed?
  • When they think about what they have to do in college are they excited?
  • Can they imagine their life in 10 years?

Scoring below a three in this area suggests a student does not have a set goal or they do not believe they can be successful in college.  A student must believe they can succeed in order to be successful. 
If students do not believe they are capable of doing the work they are more likely to give up, skip classes and drop out of school.
It is important for students with disabilities to use their accommodations so they can be successful in school.


  • Total up all the yes answers and multiply the number by 4.
  • A score of 80 or higher suggests a student should be independent in a college setting.
  • A score of 60 to 79 indicates a student will struggle in a traditional college setting and will need support.

How can parents assist the students

  • Have the student take classes with only accommodations, no modifications.
  • Teach your student organization skills, time management skills, and give them responsibilities they must carry out in a timely manner.
  • Let the student be responsible for things on their own and deal with the consequences if they do not follow through.

What else do you need to take into consideration?

  • Is college the right choice?
  • Is this what they want to do? 
  • What do they want to do when they graduate? Is this the way to meet this goal?
  • Is the student able to step out of their comfort zone?
  • Studies show that students who make a connection with another student or staff person stay in college.


  • An ACT score is not always the best way to determine if a student is ready for college.
  • Just because a student gets into college, does not mean the student is college ready.
  • Encourage parents to be honest with themselves about their child’s abilities and goals in life.
  • Help parents be realistic about goals for a student. For example, a student with a severe math disability will have a really hard time becoming an accountant.