What Challenges Do Persons with Disabilities Face When Pursuing a College Education?

While colleges and universities have come a long way in providing more opportunities for disabled students and making their facilities more accessible, undoubtedly, many challenges remain. People with disabilities have a rougher time of it. The dropout rate of students with disabilities is higher than the average.

According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 27.7% of adults with disabilities had gotten a bachelor's degree compared to 73.2% of those with no disability. In no small part, this can be attributed to the kinds of challenges people with disabilities face both when applying for college and pursuing their studies after matriculating.

Personal attitudes towards disability

Prospective college students with disabilities and parents sometimes question whether they ought to disclose a disability during the admission process, thinking that it might lower their chances of acceptance. In fact, however, it’s always a good idea to share this information in one’s application or essay. Writing services like https://essayshark.com can even provide assistance with college essays in order to help present one’s ideas. Sharing information about a learning disability for example can explain to an admission officer why a student has a high GPA, yet low test scores.

Negative experiences and psychological barriers


Many students with disabilities experience stress and feelings of isolation due to their disabilities. They may feel that they cannot fit in or that they’ll have problems making friends. This might come from having had negative experiences in their schools in the past and fearing their recurrence in the future. Whether it be limited opportunities for personal development, financial constraints, or social exclusion — there are many sorts of barriers that can significantly influence one’s ability or willingness to seriously pursue further education.

Insufficient physical accessibility

Unfortunately, students with physical disabilities still face challenges when commuting to campuses. They face various difficulties when it comes to physically getting to their test sites and lessons due to the absence of elevators and ramps, overly heavy doors, washrooms without access for disabled people, and poor transportation options if any between their educational institutions and homes.

Limited educational options


Making a decision about college or a future career isn’t a decision that can be made on a whim, particularly for a person with a disability. People with disabilities must carefully plan their transition from high school to college. While all people should have access to education, people with disabilities may face extra difficulties in obtaining a desired degree due to the specifics of their disabilities or the campus services that are provided (or not provided) for them.


Some colleges like Boston University, University of Denver, and others offer separate programs for people with disabilities, although, in some cases, there may be additional fees involved. Also, some disabilities require a coach or tutor to help the student with their material, and such services may also be expensive.


Lack of financial support


Paying for healthcare and higher education in the US is challenging for many disabled students. A disabled person may need personal care aid, pharmaceutical support, a motorized wheelchair, and other additional things that cost a lot of money. Students must often rely on scholarships and other financial aid programs to make their higher education more accessible, but the competition is high and funds are limited.


Also, students frequently face delays in special education funding, long waiting lists for additional support, and there are delays across the country in the implementation of accessibility services and programs. The accessibility of the facilities and programs of an institute of higher learning play a crucial role.


Differences in disabled student services


As disabilities vary from one person to another it can be difficult for institutions of higher learning to take into account their diversity. Hence, some students might be unable to access education facilities. Educational plans and services may not meet individual circumstances or provide the necessary support for a student with a particular disability. Students may need flexibility in exam sessions, extended deadlines for written assignments, extra time during tests, and other assistance. Some students with disabilities may need more time to understand the educational materials, especially when the college can’t provide an accessible format like Braille, digital variants accessible for screen readers, or audio versions of the material.


Many colleges and universities provide disability offices where students can get information about whether the institutions provide the support they need. All of this takes time, especially when you plan to apply to several institutions at once. Students must clarify much of this information before even starting their applications. The normal challenge of pursuing higher education becomes even more difficult.


Attitudes and awareness about the needs of disabled students


Colleges may lack support staff for disabled students who can understand their needs. According to recent research, teaching staff have more positive attitudes toward students with physical disabilities than students with emotional disorders or learning disabilities. Not viewing emotional disorders and learning disabilities as true disabilities lends itself to problems as barriers to education that are not seen as barriers are not always willingly removed.


From the broader view, sometimes college communities and teaching staff lack awareness about people with disabilities. Some students who need additional support and care who don’t show obvious physical disabilities are not given the help and support they really need. Teachers may be impatient with students with disabilities. Moreover, some students who have disabilities are members of socially disadvantaged groups and, therefore, experience even more discrimination and negative attitudes.


In many cases, students with disabilities don’t know their rights and don’t stand up for themselves. Students are sometimes shy to ask for the things that would help them, such as note-taker support, audio recording during lectures, or laptop use during classroom work.


Lack of adequate staff training


College staff should be ready to develop policies and organize processes that speed up the accessibility and accommodation for students with disabilities. A lack of staff training can lead to insufficient support for students with disabilities during the application process and through the educational year.


The aim of such training lies in developing empathy and understanding of students with various disabilities and acquiring progressive strategies to help them adapt to the educational process. In fact, every college should have a student agency or a team of counselors who advocate the needs of students with disabilities and help foster the implementation of adequate support.


Wrapping Up


Students with disabilities still face a lot of financial, physical, technological, attitudinal, and social troubles along their way to pursuing higher education. Inclusion is something that modern society should focus on, and colleges, in particular, should implement effective solutions and support for students with disabilities. Close collaboration with students with disabilities will ensure that their needs are met, and sharing their experiences with other students will help foster positive attitudes.