Resources for Disabled Students

Prospective CSU Students

The following information is provided as suggestions for your consideration. Not everything applies to every student. Some things work better than others depending upon the circumstances or situation. Hopefully, some bit of information will give you food for thought before you embark on what can be the most exciting time of your life. How you plan this trip is of your own choosing. Good luck and enjoy yourself. It is a great deal of work but it is also a great deal of fun, if you want it to be.

YOUR MISSION, if you so choose...

Congratulations as you embark on this wonderful and challenging endeavor as a college/university student. You will find this new world to be both gratifying as well as frustrating, fearful as well as exciting, challenging as well as easy to master. You may come to this experience as you would an adventure in which you must conquer the elements. Or you may wish to see it as a new job, requiring you to learn new skills and methods. Any way you decide to approach this new endeavor, you can be certain it will change you from what you are today.

As you proceed through your college career, you will not only learn about the world from different viewpoints but you will have a deeper understanding of it. You will not only learn about others who are different from yourself but you will also learn a great deal about yourself and your connection to others. Consider this your opportunity to join the elite of society as many people in the world do not have this same opportunity and privilege. Do well by it and it will do well by you. 

What You Can Expect...

It is important to realize that being a student in college is different than being a student in high school. The pace is different and the expectations are different. Even the laws under which you are protected as a student with a disability are different. 

If you have been a student receiving support from special education services, one of the first differences you should be aware of is that YOU are directly responsible for initiating the support you need and not the university. The input and influence of your parents is not as important at the college level as it was in your elementary or secondary schools. You actually control your own destiny. Your success or failure depends on what you do and on what you may choose not to do.   You will need to be a self-advocate regarding your education as well as the support you may need to accomplish your academic goals.  For more information about being a self-advocate, visit the Access Project.

The average college or university environment is based on a traditional method of teaching and learning. As part of their teaching responsibilities, in a typical class, the instructors lecture, create assignments, prepare exams to measure how much students have learned and facilitate the learning process to the best of their abilities. Students, on the other hand, are ultimately responsible for any learning that may take place.

A typical college student is responsible for attending class, taking notes, reading the books, doing the research, writing the papers, completing assignments and taking exams, hoping that they have learned enough to pass. While instructors are responsible for facilitating and evaluating the learning process, students are held responsible for their own learning. Whether or not an instructor is able to teach effectively for every student is not as critical as whether or not a student is able to learn under different circumstances, with different instructors and on a more theoretical level. In other words, how successful a student is at college is dependent on how effective a student is at being a student. 

As a student with a disability, there is a general expectation that are able to manage the effects of your disability in order to meet the requirements of being a college student.  For example, if your disability causes you to be disorganized, you will be expected to learn new strategies that help you become more organized.  If you have difficulty showing up for class, it is expected that you will discover ways that compensate for this trait so that you show up on time and at the right place.  While you may have had assistance in the past from your parents, when you come to college, you will be held responsible for the behavior that will lead to your success.

What You Will Need...

"No one would be expected to be able to succeed as a neurosurgeon or a pro football quarterback without training, but countless thousands of students assume they can succeed in college even if they are not skilled in reading, writing, listening, and other basic study activities." (Carmen, Adams, Study Skills: A Student Guide for Survival, 1984)

Success does not come without effort nor without skills. Being interested in college and motivated to learn is not enough. Your instructors will take for granted that you are able to read, write, listen, take notes and do exams and assignments effectively as well as showing up for class. They also expect you to be able to comprehend complex theories, synthesize ideas, and demonstrate how to apply theories and ideas to real life situations.

Students who experience problems with these tasks may be faced with more difficulties than the average student and may need to develop specific strategies to overcome these obstacles. To be a successful student, then, you will need to have a plan as well as basic survival skills.

Knowing how to study is merely the beginning. Time management, how to use the library, and understanding what is and is not important for an exam are only a few of the details you will need to master if you expect to be successful as a college student.

What You Will Get...

The learning process does not take place only in the classroom environment. In addition to the demands of mastering academic knowledge, you also have the opportunity to learn and develop a great deal more about yourself. Your growth as a college student is not only in the process of learning but in building your character. Balancing the demands of both your academic responsibilities and your personal obligations and needs is not an easy job. It, too, takes some planning and some trial and error before most students find the right combination of school work (thinking) and personal development (doing). But once you find that balance, the rewards are many.

While in college you have the opportunity to learn how to be a leader, how to interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds, and how to look at the world through different perspectives. You have the opportunity to redefine what you value in life at the same time you discover what you want to do for the rest of your life. Taking advantage of some of the options available to you for participating in the greater community of the campus is only one of the many benefits you have as a college student. Learning about yourself as a complex and unique individual comes along with the experience, too.


Students with disabilities must meet the criteria established for admission to any institution of higher education in order to be considered "otherwise qualified" under current federal statutes. In general, four year colleges and universities have admission criteria that are more stringent than community or junior colleges. For students who do not meet criteria for a four year college or university, a two year community or junior college may be a more appropriate option to begin the pursuit of a college education. Many classes at two year institutions are transferable to four year institutions.

With guidance from the state, Colorado State University has established specific admission criteria for entrance into the university's programs. Many factors are considered and each applicant is evaluated in a holistic process.  For freshmen that includes such credentials as completion of required high school coursework, SAT or ACT scores high school grade point average, and class rank (if applicable).  Priority consideration is given to applicants who have earned a minimum 3.25 GPA and have successfully completed 18 recommended high school units.  Applicants who don't quite meet the criteria for priority are still strongly encouraged to apply since other factors are recognized in the review process.

Primary factors considered in the admission decision for transfer applicants include overall high school graduation (or equivalent), cumulative GPA earned in all college settings, and completion of required college-level coursework.  Transfer students must meet the admission requirement in mathematics. For all applicants, the admission decision includes a review of academic rigor, trends in grades, and additional personal qualities that demonstrate the potential for academic success.  Strong candidates for admission have earned at least a 2.5 GPA; all applicants must have a minimum of a 2.0 GPA in order to be considered.

Specific types of disabilities may have had an adverse effect on students' prior school performance. Disclosure of the presence of a disability is voluntary.  While each institution may have different procedures, students are encouraged to submit with their application to CSU an explanation of the possible effects the disability has had on their academic record (e.g., test scores, grade point average, etc.). This identification can be included in the personal essay or through letters of recommendation.  Disability not the sole basis of an admission decision and an applicant may be admissible if there is sufficient indication of strong potential not reflected in the current achievement record.

For more information concerning other requirements once enrolled at CSU, please go to CSU Information.

For more details about the application process for CSU contact: Admissions Office, (970) 491-6909.



RDS Inclusive logo