I was leery of how I could use the word “postsecondary” and not create any confusion. To be clear, there are no IEPs in college. A student can get a 504 plan, but is not entitled to special education or FAPE in college.

But, it certainly is a realistic goal for many IEP students, that they attend college. And their IEP transition plan should reflect this.

A person with blonde hair wearing a backpack stands facing a blooming cherry blossom tree, with measurable postsecondary goals for an IEP outlined on the building in the background.

It’s also important to students to not only have goals, but understand what it will take to get there. After all, lots of kids want to go to a D1 school for sports, but getting there is a different story.

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Many are unaware of how much work it really is to get there. But for those who want to put in the work, it can be attainable.

A focused individual reading a book at a table with measurable postsecondary goals for an IEP, a cup of coffee, and papers to the side.

Special Education and College

Preparing for college as a special education student involves a few extra steps to ensure readiness for the academic, social, and logistical challenges that college presents. Here are some important considerations and steps:

  1. Understand Your Rights and Resources: Familiarize yourself and your parents/guardians with the rights and resources available to students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These laws provide accommodations and support services to ensure equal access to education.
  2. Self-Advocacy Skills: Develop strong self-advocacy skills. Understand your learning style, strengths and weaknesses. Learn how to communicate your needs effectively to professors, advisors, and support staff.
  3. Explore College Options: Research colleges and universities that offer strong support services for students with disabilities. Consider factors such as campus accessibility, disability services offices, academic support programs, and available accommodations.
  4. Visit Campus Disability Services: Schedule visits with disability services offices at prospective colleges. Meet with staff to discuss your individual needs and the accommodations available. Ask about documentation requirements and the process for requesting accommodations.
  5. Gather Documentation: Collect documentation of your disability, such as Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) or 504 Plans, psychoeducational evaluations, and medical records. This documentation will be needed to request accommodations in college.
  6. Build Study Skills: Develop effective study skills, time management strategies, and organization techniques. Consider enrolling in study skills workshops or working with a tutor to strengthen academic skills.
  7. Practice Independence: Practice skills related to independent living, such as managing personal finances, navigating public transportation, and self-care tasks. These skills will be important for success in college and beyond.
  8. Explore Support Services: Research support services available on college campuses, such as tutoring centers, writing labs, counseling services, and peer support groups. Take advantage of these resources to enhance your academic and personal success.
  9. Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date on changes in disability laws and regulations, as well as developments in assistive technology and academic accommodations. Stay informed about available resources and advocacy opportunities.
  10. Seek Mentorship: Connect with current college students or alumni who have disabilities and have successfully navigated the college experience. Seek their advice and guidance as you prepare for college.
  11. Plan for Transition: Work with your IEP team or transition coordinator to develop a transition plan that outlines your goals and objectives for college. Consider factors such as housing, transportation, and healthcare as you plan for the transition to college life.
  12. Stay Positive and Persistent: Remember that navigating the college application and transition process may present challenges, but with persistence, determination, and support, you can achieve your goals. Stay positive and focus on your strengths and abilities as you prepare for this exciting new chapter in your life.

Post Secondary IEP Goals

Any skill can become an IEP goal, if you put it in the IEP goal formula. You can also use multiple items here, and use some as objectives toward a goal.

Worksheet for setting transportation and safety IEP goals.

IEP Transition Goals for Postsecondary

Here are some soft skills that may make good IEP postsecondary goals or objectives.

It’s important to remember this: If a student does not have an IEP goal for something, it’s not likely that they will receive supports and services for that something.

In other words, if you want your student to receive instruction in any of these items, then they must have an IEP goal tied to it. That is why transition IEP goals are so important. Many of them are not measurable, or they are open ended because completion of the goal happens after graduation.

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But if you want your child to have college preparatory supports, then they must have IEP goals for it.

  1. Has a realistic view of his/her chances for completing high school.
  2. If high school graduation is not realistic, understands what a GED is and how to obtain one.
  3. Can fill out forms to enroll in an educational program.
  4. Has a general idea of what education is needed for the job he/she wants.
  5. Can discuss educational/vocational plans with teachers/counselors.
  6. Is aware of educational resources available in the community.
  7. Knows how to obtain school transcripts.
  8. Is aware of current educational credits and standing. 
  9. Has an appropriate educational plan for the job selected.
  10. Understands educational/skill requirements for job selected. Is aware of the cost of higher education/vocational training.
  11. Knows the difference between a loan and a grant.
  12. “Shops around” to find the best educational resources.
  13. Knows where to find and how to access adult education or vocational training in the community.
  14. Knows how to obtain financial aid/scholarships for additional education.
  15. Understands future prospects and probable living standards relative to levels of education and specialized skills.
  16. Is able to identify the connection between course work and vocational goals.
Four individuals engaged in a discussion about measurable postsecondary goals for an IEP at a library, with one of them pointing at a computer screen, eliciting interested and amused reactions from the group.

IEP Goals for Postsecondary Education

And, here are a few more. Remember that there is a transition IEP goals bank here on the site, if you want to dig deeper into some of these concepts.

Here are 20 Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals for postsecondary education that could be included in a student’s transition plan:

  1. Academic Skills: By [specific date], the student will independently apply study strategies (e.g., note-taking, summarizing) to improve comprehension and retention of academic material in [specific subject(s)] courses.
  2. Time Management: By [specific date], the student will use a planner or digital organizer to manage assignments, deadlines, and appointments, with at least 80% accuracy, as measured by teacher observation.
  3. Self-Advocacy: By [specific date], the student will confidently communicate their disability-related needs to professors, advisors, and support staff, as demonstrated by participating in at least two meetings independently.
  4. Social Skills: By [specific date], the student will actively engage in at least one extracurricular activity or social group related to their interests, demonstrating effective communication and social interaction skills.
  5. Independent Living Skills: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate proficiency in managing personal finances, including budgeting, banking, and paying bills, as evidenced by completing a financial literacy course or simulation.
  6. Technology Skills: By [specific date], the student will utilize assistive technology tools (e.g., screen readers, speech-to-text software) to facilitate access to course materials and complete assignments independently.
  7. Career Exploration: By [specific date], the student will research at least three potential career paths aligned with their interests, strengths, and abilities, and create a plan outlining steps to pursue their chosen career.
  8. Employment Skills: By [specific date], the student will develop a resume and practice interview skills, including dressing appropriately, maintaining eye contact, and responding to questions confidently.
  9. Community Engagement: By [specific date], the student will participate in volunteer or internship opportunities related to their career interests, demonstrating responsibility and reliability in completing assigned tasks.
  10. Health and Wellness: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate knowledge of healthy lifestyle choices, including nutrition, exercise, stress management, and self-care practices.
  11. Transportation Skills: By [specific date], the student will independently navigate public transportation or utilize alternative transportation options to travel to and from campus, work, or community activities.
  12. Advocacy Skills: By [specific date], the student will identify at least two disability-related resources or support services available on campus and demonstrate how to access them independently.
  13. Goal Setting: By [specific date], the student will set and prioritize short-term and long-term goals related to academic, career, and personal development, and track progress towards achieving these goals.
  14. Conflict Resolution: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate effective conflict resolution skills in academic and social settings, including identifying issues, expressing concerns assertively, and seeking resolution collaboratively.
  15. Decision Making: By [specific date], the student will evaluate potential risks and consequences when making decisions related to academics, employment, relationships, and health, and demonstrate the ability to make informed choices.
  16. Accessing Support Services: By [specific date], the student will independently request and utilize accommodations and support services available through the Disability Services Office, as needed, to facilitate academic success.
  17. Executive Functioning: By [specific date], the student will develop strategies to improve executive functioning skills, such as organization, planning, task initiation, and time management, as evidenced by improved performance in academic and daily tasks.
  18. Cultural Competence: By [specific date], the student will demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity by participating in multicultural events, engaging in dialogue with peers from diverse backgrounds, and respecting cultural differences.
  19. Stress Management: By [specific date], the student will utilize at least two stress management techniques (e.g., deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation) to reduce anxiety and promote emotional well-being during times of academic or personal stress.
  20. Graduation Planning: By [specific date], the student will develop a plan outlining the requirements and timeline for completing their degree program, including selecting courses, meeting graduation requirements, and preparing for post-graduation transition.

I hope that your IEP student is able to have a successful transition and attend college if that is their goal.

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