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Special School District of St. Louis County
New Access to College Program Gives Seniors College Experience
When Amanda Miller started college in summer 2010, she was confident about both her study skills and her self-advocacy skills.

Miller, a 2010 graduate of McCluer North High School, participated in the inaugural Access to College program during her final semester of high school. The cooperative program between SSD and St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley gave Miller a leg-up on college because she was able to take two college courses on the college campus while she was still in high school.

The courses focused on study skills, including note-taking, effective listening and reading strategies; and ADA college preparation, and each passing student received two college credit hours.

Miller, who wants to be a physical therapist, said if it weren't for the program, she wouldn't have used the special accommodations she qualifies for at college. "I didn't know that when you go to college, you can have extra time for tests, and that really helps me."

Miller was one of 13 students enrolled in the first class of Access to College. Now, she's one of ten Access to College grads that enrolled in college. Eight of the students enrolled at Florissant Valley.

The students are grateful for their previous exposure to the campus and report they are more comfortable talking to their instructors about accommodations, said Suelaine Matthews, manager of the access office at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley.

"Accommodations at college are not just given to students. They have to ask for them, and sometimes, they have to arrange for them," Matthews said. "Some students are not using the accommodations that are available to them because they haven't set them up correctly," Matthews said. "That's definitely why we're doing this."

The ADA coursework gave students the opportunity to learn more about their disabilities so they could understand the help they would need in college. The course also provided a chance for students to practice requesting their own accommodations from real college instructors.

"At colleges, they have to self-identify and they have to talk about what their disability is and how it impacts them in an educational setting," Matthews said. "That was something that, for awhile, was uncomfortable for the students."

Working through those challenges while still in high school has proven really useful to students, including Miller.

"It really helped me, and I know for my friends, it helped them, too," Miller said.

Check out all the planning for adult life resources available on the SSD website.
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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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