Student talking with counselor As we look ahead to the college fall semester, any graduated high school seniors who received accommodations through their IEP or 504 plans may anticipate some challenges as they settle into their college experience. For students with a disability, disability services can vary widely from college to college, and may not provide students with the same type of support they received in high school.

The College Navigator Program offered through Easter Seals helps to connect students with a disability with a 1:1 “College Navigator,” an individual to help them stay on track academically and support their personal needs. The program is currently offered primarily for Boston and north-of-Boston area colleges, though they recently had a student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute who was able to Skype with his navigator.

The program works to complement disability services on campus and is very tailored in approach, a significant benefit since disability services can vary widely school to school. It also addresses the issue that some students may not feel comfortable visiting disability services and may need help with “scripts” to advocate for themselves for accommodations. The College Navigator is available to the student for whatever the student may need: help with classwork organization and timelines, finding resources on campus, or even just being a friendly face to process social relationships and conflicts. Goals are tailored to the student’s specific needs and the time spent will be based on those needs. The program makes clear that the College Navigators are not tutors, but they rather work to provide more in-depth support and skill-building to individuals to insure they stay in school. Funding for the College Navigator program is provided via grants and pilot programs.

As a side note, the Easter Seals also offers a Mini Loan Program for assistive technology, which is a zero-interest loan program for borrowing sums between $100 and $2000. Loans can fund all kinds of assistive technology devices and services and help borrowers build a positive credit history. Students in the College Navigator Program can also benefit from the Mini Loan Program.

Having a program like College Navigator can really ease both the student’s and parent’s concerns in terms of staying on track with the college experience. Many colleges are starting to offer similar types of coaching services similar to College Navigator, but with demand exceeding program ceilings, Easter Seals is helping to bridge the gap to ensure all students reach their full potential.

You can learn more about the College Navigator Program here. And you can learn more about the Mini Loan Program for assistive technology here.