Characteristics, Experiences, and Quality of College Life of Students with Disabilities Registered with the Disability Office on College Campuses Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Senior, Melissa
    • Affiliation: School of Education, School Psychology Graduate Program
  • The number of students with disabilities (SWD) enrolling in college continues to rise yet the graduation rates for this population remain below those of their peers without disabilities. A student’s experiences during the transition from high school to college and in college (academic and social integration) impact overall persistence towards degree completion. SWD face more challenges before and after entering college than their peers without disabilities, which places them at greater risk for attrition. Previous research explored patterns associated with college persistence for SWD and found that while they often utilize kindergarten through 12th grade disability-resources, they are less likely to use disability-related services during college. However, limited information is available about the experiences of SWD in college. This study explored the characteristics, experiences, and quality of college life for 306 SWD registered with the Disability Office at four public four-year colleges in the southeastern region of the United States. The results identified patterns in student characteristics (e.g., gender and disability category), high school experiences (e.g., IEP and 504 involvement, perceptions of transition concerns, and disability self-awareness), and college experiences (e.g., family involvement in the registration process) associated with Disability Office registration and use. The majority of the sample reported positive outcomes on questions adapted from the Quality of College Life (QCL) scale, a measure of college integration. However, over half of the sample reported that they considered dropping out of college at some point in their academic career. These findings have implications for high school and college professionals who support SWD as they transition to college as well as provide opportunities to assess systematic barriers that impact SWD.
Date of publication
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Simeonsson, Rune
  • Miller, Kylee
  • Maitland, Theresa
  • Ware, William
  • Knotek, Steven
  • Evarrs, Sandra
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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