Top 15 Questions to ask Student Accessibility Services (SAS) during your College Visit
It’s that time of the year! The time to begin scheduling and visiting the schools, college-bound young adults are considering. These visits can be twofold - both exciting and stressful. Students with executive function challenges and learning differences may get easily overwhelmed and become escalated or shut down during these long days.
It is critical to prepare prospective college students - and their families - for what to expect while visiting a campus. Before the visit, breakdown who you will be speaking with and the schedule for the day. Planning ahead will allow you to be more engaged and interactive with the Campus itself, along with the:
Student tour guides
Will be able to better explain the registration and overall academic pathways available to your child.
However, admissions won’t have all the answers you need! Because their job is to increase enrollment, they tell you what you want to hear and paint a pretty picture. You want to be set up for success and a little extra planning can optimize your visit to campus and result in a better informed decision.
Department of Residence Life
Understanding the systems surrounding the residence life program available to you is important to consider for long-term academic and independent living success.
In the post-COVID world that we live in, waitlists for mental health support continue to grow; if your child would benefit from on-going, on-campus clinical support please make sure to make this connection as soon as possible.
Disability Support Services (commonly referred to as Student Accessibility Services)
If your child needs accommodations at college, you will be asked to provide documentation to the department of student accessibility/disability support. Each school has their own way of doing things to determine eligibility and gain access to accommodations - it is crucial to vet and understand this process.
This department will be the “point person” for you and your child for the next two to four years. Make sure that you feel confident in both their understanding and ability to provide the necessary support.
So, before you arrive on campus, it is important to:
Schedule meetings with key faculty and staff, including: admissions, counseling, residence life, accessibility services, etc.
Prepare a list of questions - whose answers will ultimately impact your decision making process.
Doing the hard work up front and asking the right questions to the right people can yield a huge return on your college investment. Even if you cannot coordinate with the respective departments on the day of your visit, I suggest you set up a zoom meeting with the directors of these programs - especially the Student Accessibility and Counseling Departments. These relationships and individuals will impact a student’s college experience in profound ways.
With this said, I have compiled a list of what I consider to be, the top 15 most important questions to ask the Director of Student Accessibility (along with other departments, if applicable):
What documentation do you require in order for a student to receive accommodations?
How many coordinators/counselors are in your department?
How many students do you have registered?
How often will you meet with a student?
What is the process for informing professors of accommodations?
Do you function in an advisory capacity?
Do you do an intake interview?
Do students receiving accommodations have early registration?
Is there a release form a student can sign in order to enable a parent/guardian to discuss progress?
Will you advocate for a student having difficulty with a professor’s teaching style?
How would you describe the campus culture with regard to neurodiversity?
Are there clubs that you are aware of that are more welcoming than others to neurodiverse students?
Do you recommend a crisis plan or safe space for a student who can get escalated and do you coordinate with counseling for a student who needs that support?
Are there peer mentors or social coaches on campus for incoming freshmen with social anxiety or deficits?
Do freshmen have to live on campus and do you work with housing to accommodate any special needs in terms of housing?
Overall, both you and the prospective student must be comfortable with the team of coordinators and the systems in place to facilitate ongoing success throughout their academic and personal journeys.
I encourage you to do your ground work, trust your gut and make an informed decision.