A career planning and employment resource for people who are blind or partially sighted

Postsecondary Academic Programs Checklist

You can print off the checklist and complete it off-line or simply read through the items and ask yourself whether you have the skills to perform the tasks or will require training or assistance to be able to accomplish them.

The following checklist is designed to assist you in preparing for college or university:

  • Develop a comparative listing of all the schools you are considering (list the pros and cons of each relative to geography, access to transportation, availability of courses you want, accommodations, student body, housing, amenities, local community opportunities, part-time paid or volunteer employment options, etc.).
  • Visit as many of the schools as possible to find out what you can about the school and the surrounding community. Visit both on-campus and off-campus and consider taking an observation checklist with you to check the things that are of concern to you at each school.
  • Narrow your choices to the top five or ten and gather all of the critical information you'll need to apply (application deadlines, fees, required high school grades, admission requirements, recommended test scores, etc.).
  • Capture letters of recommendation from your current or previous teachers and influential people in the community who know you and provide them with stamped, addressed envelopes so that they can send their recommendations to the schools you are considering (find out if they can submit them electronically and let them know if that's an option – if so, send them the appropriate links).
  • Register, prepare for, and take any required standardized tests and make arrangements to have your scores sent to the schools you're considering.
  • Discuss with your parents or other supporters what they can offer you while you are in college - think fiscal, emotional, and physical supports. Meet with your vocational rehabilitation counselor, if you have one, to determine what support he or she can offer you in this process as well. Keep up with what they share with you - write it all down! Share your list with others you trust to see if you've considered everything that's important to your future, particularly how this training will help prepare you for employment.
  • Investigate financial aid options, including scholarships! Make sure that all of your financial aid applications are finalized and submitted as soon as possible.
  • Write your admissions essays (if required) and complete application forms for the schools you are considering.
  • If you are still in high school, maintain good grades and participate in community-based activities (volunteer work, social or sporting events, etc.). Remember that colleges or universities consider your performance in a number of areas: academics, sports, civic responsibility, etc. If you plan to go into the performing arts, work on your portfolio and demonstrate your ability to get parts or jobs that showcase your talent.
  • Work on your disability-specific skills and refine them to perfection (orientation and mobility, assistive technology, braille, use of optical devices, independent living skills using nonvisual techniques, etc.). Remember, in postsecondary programs you may be living on your own and will have to take care of all your needs without aides, parents, teachers, and other caregivers! To prepare for this you can start doing more things on your own – cook meals for yourself and your family, do the laundry, make and keep your appointments etc.
  • Keep a detailed calendar of what you need to accomplish and when items are due. Give yourself plenty of lead-time so that you can edit your work carefully (applications, essays, financial aid or scholarship requests, etc.).
  • Ensure that you have all of the credits you need to graduate from high school and gain admittance into your college of choice – check with your school guidance counselor.
  • Make your final selection as early as possible and respond to any acceptance letters that you receive from colleges as quickly as possible.
  • Pay any fees or deposits and complete any additional forms requested promptly. Keep copies of everything you submit!
  • Submit housing requests as early as possible.
  • Contact the Office for Disabled Students and request an appointment, if possible. Find out what options you may be eligible to receive in terms of assistance with early registration or help with securing accessible textbooks.
  • Join any library service or electronic textbook provider, if you are not already a member, to secure accessible textbooks.
  • Be sure to have a full physical (and a low vision evaluation, if you need one) and get any and all of your health/medical needs met.
  • Meet with an advisor from the department where you plan to do the bulk of your studies to find out what classes you need to take in your first semesters at college. Then, meet with professors or students from those departments to see if you can learn anything about the courses in advance.
  • Register for fall classes as early as possible. (Don’t forget that Disabled Student Services may be able to help you with an early registration process – ask!)
  • Once you have your schedule, meet with your professors in-person, if possible. Otherwise, correspond with them to let them know what your disability-specific needs are and how they can best accommodate your learning style.
  • Keep a detailed calendar of what you need to accomplish as well as a “To Do” list that you follow every day to keep little things from piling up. The more you can accomplish in advance, the more you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the college experience.
  • Start making purchases of things you’ll need for college/university and let others know what’s on your “wish list,” in case they’d like to give you graduation or birthday gifts that meet your college needs.
  • Register to participate in a college/university preparation class, if one is offered locally over the summer.
  • If you want to attend a college or university outside of your province,state, or country find out what out-of-state tuition and fees will be. If you want to attend an academic program outside of your country, find out the process required to apply for a student visa and initiate it as quickly as feasible once you’ve been accepted at a school.

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