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Students with disabilities often need extra support and advocacy to become college-ready. A new service has been launched at the Institute on Community Integration (ICI) to provide that support and advocacy for high school and college-age students with disabilities and their families in the Twin Cities area. It is called College Prep/ICI.
College Prep/ICI works collaboratively with individual students, families, and professionals to help set the stage for a successful transition from high school to the college of their choice. Services are available for students with learning disabilities, ADHD/ADD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, depression, other mental health issues, sensory impairments, physical disabilities, and chronic illness. College Prep/ICI staff, working on a fee-for-service basis, help students constructively assess and build on academic and vocational aptitudes, evaluate and strengthen independent living and social skills, improve executive functioning skills, navigate college admissions and financial aid processes, develop effective IEPs, understand accommodations and high stakes testing (e.g., AP tests, ACT/SAT), and connect with adult service programs and other resources. They provide a number of specific services tailored to the needs of each student, including:
College Prep/ICI operates within two frameworks developed at the University of Minnesota. The first, Ramp-up to Readiness,™ is a program of the University’s College Readiness Consortium that is used to support college readiness for Minnesota students in five goal areas: Academic, Admissions, Career, Financial, and Personal/Social. College Prep/ICI staff work with students to develop individualized goals in each area, and use the Ramp-up to Readiness Standards to assess their college readiness. The second framework, Check & Connect, was developed at ICI to promote student engagement with school and reduce dropout for K-12 students. College Prep/ICI staff use the Check & Connect model to monitor student progress through regular personal contact, and help keep students on track.
“We strongly believe in self-determination and allowing individuals with disabilities to freely participate in educational, vocational, and social settings of their choice,” says Joe Timmons, director of the new service. “Families and students often need additional support to make informed choices and to increase the options for postsecondary success, and that’s what College Prep/ICI is all about.”