The actress Audrey Hepburn had it right when she said “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m Possible.”

Her words are good advice for transition students who are curious about college. Compared to the small, close-knit community of a transition program, the idea of attending college could feel overwhelming, or even impossible. Fortunately, there is an easy way to make the idea of college less intimidating and more possible.

The best way to get started is simply to tour a college campus, according to Jamie Rougeux. Rougeux is the Disability Services Coordinator at Central Oregon Community College (COCC). She believes that every student, whether or not they experience disabilities, benefits from guided campus visits. And the earlier a student begins exploring what different colleges have to offer, the better they can find the right fit.

 

GET THE BIG PICTURE OF LIFE ON CAMPUS

In Bend, Central Oregon Community College (COCC) and Oregon State University – Cascades (OSU) offer opportunities to compare different college campuses. COCC also has a smaller campus in Redmond. One way to start is just walking around campus with a friend or parent.  However, the best way to get familiar with all parts of campus life is to join a guided tour.

“A guided tour gives prospective students the big picture, a preview of campus highlights. Tour guides can answer most questions right from the start,” said Rougeux.

Getting familiar with the buildings, from libraries to lecture halls, makes students feel more at home on campus. Tours go through academic buildings, the gym, a dorm room, and dining halls. For transition students, learning where to find student support offices is just as important. Guided tours will introduce prospective students to departments like tutoring, counseling, and financial aid.

 

TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL COLLEGE TOUR

1. Know before you go

Spend some time online reading the college website. What kind of programs and degrees does it offer? What about placement testing for math and language classes? What kind of support services are available? Just as every student has a unique set of strengths and abilities, every college varies in the coursework it offers and in how it supports students with disabilities.

 

2. Think about your accommodation needs

During high school and the transition program, the IEP or 504 plan is at the foundation of learning for students with disabilities. But at the college level, those plans do not apply. It’s up to the student to understand their own disability, and to apply for the accommodations that will help them succeed.

College tours don’t always include the Disability Services office, because they work with students after they are enrolled. Rougeux and the Disability Services staff at COCC meet with students who have already applied to the college and are taking classes. At that point, she can set up accommodations like extended time for testing, and help with note-taking. Read more about COCC’s Disability Services –there is an information page for parents and teachers too.

 

3. Bring your questions to the tour

Come prepared with a list of all your questions. Otherwise, it’s easy to get distracted by the sights and sounds of a bustling campus! This is the time for asking any questions – tour guides love interaction with their group. No question is too dumb or silly, and if you are wondering about something there’s a good chance someone else is too.

You may also want to print out a map of the campus to keep track of where you are. Here are links to the Bend COCC map and the OSU-Cascades map.

 

4. Virtual tours work too

Over the past year, we’ve all learned to use online resources in smarter ways. Colleges have become better at that too. Virtual tours let students here in Central Oregon compare college campuses anywhere. Whether it’s a college close to home or across the country, virtual tours open a huge range of possibilities.

After all, more than one in ten college students have learning disabilities, and colleges want to work with them. Here is one list of twenty different colleges known for their programs for students with disabilities. This list links to thirty colleges with programs tailored for students with disabilities.

 

Ready to get started?

At COCC, in-person tours take place most Mondays and Fridays at 11:00 am. Sign up through their online calendar.

OSU-Cascades in-person visits happen Monday through Friday, at 10:00am or 2:00pm. Learn more about their tours or sign up for a time through their online calendar. 

Photo courtesy of Dom Fou on Unsplash