Preparation for Adulthood

Supported Higher Education

People with all kinds of disabilities can and do benefit from going to college. There is a body of research that suggests that even without completing a degree; some level of college education provides increased employment opportunities. Previously, people with more severe disabilities did not have this opportunity. Students with learning disabilities for example, have been attending college for years. While it may seem unusual at first to think about someone with an intellectual disability, going to college consider this: motivation is one of the most important factors in determining the success of students in college courses. If a student with a disability is highly motivated to come to college, then who are we to stop that person?!

Programs like the Kentucky Supported Higher Education Program (Kentucky SHEP) work to support these highly motivated students as they plan for college and go to schools across the state ( Most students enrolled in these programs are not seeking a degree, but rather are taking classes that are of interest to them and that may provide meaningful skills and tools for future employment. They work towards a certificate provided by the program that shows the hours they have completed and the internship experiences in which they have engaged. The Kentucky SHEP works with these students to engage in person-centered planning, help them obtain financial aid, seek campus resources such as advising when needed, provides tutoring above and beyond what is offered by the college or university, and on some campuses sets students up with a mentor that is similar to a peer buddy!

Learn more about the mentorship program at Northern Kentucky University by watching this video:

Kentucky SHEP also has its students engage in an internship component. If you have siblings or friends in college you may have heard them talking about internships. Just like typical students, students with significant disabilities need practice in the jobs they would like to have. Internships are also a good way for students to decide whether a job is a good fit for an individual.

Imagine that your peer buddy tells you that you he or she is interested in going to college after high school.

Visit and to explore options for your peer buddy, then write a reflection discussing options you might talk about with your buddy and their family! What would you say to teachers or classmates who said that your buddy could not go to college?