The Most Important Difference Between High School and College

Guest Post by Katie Corbett, Career Coach

Dorm room living, dining hall dinners and no parents telling you to go to bed at a certain time are all significant differences between high school and college. If you have a disability, though, there is one critical distinction: You are responsible for getting all your materials in an accessible format and getting yourself to class. Whether six inches of snow blanket the ground or you’ve never been to the building before, it doesn’t matter. You’ll have to get there.

I’m blind, so when I started college, I needed materials in either braille or electronic formats. I also wanted to make sure I was familiar enough with the layout of my campus so I could ask intelligent questions. Whether you’re blind like me, use a wheelchair or have an ASL interpreter, the duty is yours to make sure you are prepared.

Don’t get me wrong–Disability Services Offices are great. I took advantage of a lot of resources mine offered. Keep in mind, though, that no one else except you will be impacted if you get bad grades because you didn’t have access to the material or couldn’t get to class on time. Shouldn’t you be the person to make sure this doesn’t happen? Isn’t that too much trust to put into the hands of other people without a backup plan of your own?

I found it helpful to plan for the worst-case scenario. I would ask myself: “OK, so there are people in my classes who can read and spell the words on the PowerPoint presentation to me. But what would I do if they didn’t show up?” This happened one day in my Art Appreciation class, so I raised my hand and asked the professor if she could send the vocabulary words to me in an email so I could make sure my spellings were correct in my notes. She was happy to oblige and those moments of forethought saved me a panic attack in the middle of class.

I say this not to scare you—because everybody knows moving away from home and starting a whole new chapter in your life is a scary-enough event. I’d just hate for you to get to college and be flabbergasted by this new responsibility. The bottom line is: Be prepared. Ask yourself what you’d do if your current strategy failed. And then ask yourself what you’d do if your backup plan failed. It will save you a lot of time and freaking out later. Trust me.


Katie Corbett is a career coach. She loves asking people the questions that will help them discover their dreams. Visit her online at to see if coaching is right for you! You can also get in touch with Katie by sending me an email

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