In review of this week’s lectures notes, it states that “according to data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), during the 2008-2009 academic year, 99% of public two-year institutions, 88% of non-profit four year institutions, and 99% of public four year institutions enroll students with disabilities” (Flowers, 2017). These are pretty significantly high percentages and it is great that disabled students are not be excluded from being admitted in to higher education institutions, however, what is concerning are the graduation rates for students with disabilities. An online article mentions that graduation rates for students with disabilities for the 2013-2014 academic year were only 63.1% (“Disability Scoop”, 2016). Considering the percentage of disabled students being admitted into higher education institutions and the percentage of those students actually graduating, it is clear that there is huge gap and barriers preventing the students from being successful in college.
It is imperative that student affairs professionals research and implement new and innovative ways to help this population of students become academically successful. When considering the effective strategies for engagement that was noted in our lecture notes for the week, the one strategy that stood out the most to me was the “transition programs” (Flowers, 2017). Since the transition from high school to college can be challenging for any student, it can even more challenging for a student with disabilities due to the lack of support compared to schools pre-higher education. Once you are within a higher education environment you are instantly required to become more independent, someone is not there the whole time holding your hand through the process. Although it is good to learn independence through the higher education experience, I also feel it is important to provide extra guidance in the beginning to help students through that transition phase. Just like most students go through a New Student Orientation process, it might also be a good idea to have a separate “orientation process” for students with disabilities to make them aware of their rights within a higher education institution, the resources available to them and how those resources can help them progress and be academically successful. Bearing in mind that some students may not be as willing to come forth with their disabilities I think it would be a good idea for the orientation to be easily accessible online in a video format for students to view. Of course, a face to face option would be a good idea too so that students can socialize with institutional personal and other students who may also be dealing with certain disabilities.
Disability Scoop. (2016). Graduation rates lagging for students with disabilities. Retrieved from https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2016/01/22/graduation-rates-lagging/21815/
Flowers, A. (2017). Engaging students with disabilities [Word document]. Retrieved from Course Lecture Notes.