Preparing and Building Confidence

For Students with Disabilities to Transition to PSE

Statement of the Problem

The EnAbled for College II program was developed to enhance the postsecondary education (PSE) outcomes among students with a disability and at-risk students. This study examined:

  1. What were the educational outcomes for Enabled for College II participants?
  2. What activities or instruction provided did participants perceive to be most beneficial?

Theoretical Framework

  • Ensure access to and full participation in PSE
  • Transition services function as a bridge to PSE
  • Nationally, only 30% of students with disabilities transitioned to PSE
  • Individuals with disabilities are two to five times more likely to live in poverty
  • Educational attainment is crucial.
  • Low-income students overwhelmed by the complexity of college preparation
  • Transition counseling and creating a college-going culture effective for increasing PSE attendance for low-income and students with disabilities

Methods and Procedures

Seniors selected by their campus counselor

Suburban schools ranging in size from 1,300 to 2,500 students

52 seniors:

  • 18% African American
  • 34% Hispanic
  • 39% White
  • 9% Other
  • 80% low-income
  • 52% had a disability

Weekly mentor meeting October-May.

The curriculum covered:



college applications

scholarship applications

financial aid

goal setting

communication strategies

testing readiness

living on your own

college visits.

Quantitative section:

  • Pre and post-test administered

Qualitative section:

  • Open-ended questions addressing perceived benefits of the program

Results and Conclusions

Respondents' Pre- and Post-Program Questions with Statistical Significance (handout)

Students' perception of the most beneficial aspects of the program:

  • college knowledge/preparation
  • assistance with paperwork/finances
  • help with decision making
  • affective/emotional growth
  • increased practical knowledge
  • strong mentor relationships
  • an appreciation of the program

98% (n=51) graduated on time

100% (n=52) completed one or more college applications

87% (n=45) were accepted to college

68% (n=38) were first-generation college students

As of January, following high school graduation:

  • 67% (n=35) were enrolled in PSE
  • Of the 26 seniors with a disability: 65% (n=17) were enrolled in PSE

Educational Importance of the Study

  • Graduation rate for students with a disability (98%) exceeded the national average (70%)

  • PSE attendance for students with a disability (67%) doubled the 2005 national average (30%)

  • Students perceive themselves in a more positive light

  • Reducing the complexity of college preparation and providing knowledge of financial resources can reduce the barriers for at risk students to attend PSE

Responses from the participants

Quote from one of the counselors........

"Every one of them received scholarships and some of them received up to seven scholarships!! This would not have happened if Nicole had not been there to help them write their essays, practice interviewing with them, and push them to complete numerous scholarship applications.

The stories of their lives were tragic in some cases, and these students were chosen because of their significant need for support:

- one girl was sexually abused by her step-father

- one boy got a girl pregnant and was working 40 hours every week to support her

- two students were homeless

- one girl was abandoned by her parents and was living with her great-grandmother

- two of the students live in SEVERE poverty

- at least 11 out of the 14 students held nearly full-time jobs

- the stories go on and on and on…"

Student quotes .......

The mentor program helped them “to stay on track” and helped with “getting through high school.”

“You’re helping so many people through a stressful time and we appreciate it a lot!”

“I've learned to care about my education.”

"I am encouraged because I have the knowledge of how to go about asking for what I need.”

What we have learned......

  • Expand the program to include juniors to better prepare for PSE
  • Build a relationship with local college mentors/success coaches
  • Build a relationship with parents
  • Scholarships for summer school to reduce time between transitions