Emily, a sophomore in southern Wisconsin who loves to dance and is actively involved in her local 4-H chapter, wants to go to college. She’s working towards a drivers’ license, plans to live independently after school, and wants to get married (preferably after finding a job, encourages her mom, Fairy).
Emily’s family has always assumed that she would continue her education in college just like her brother. It’s just sort of an expectation that you don’t stop learning even if you’re 17 or 18. It's just always been a given that there would be… some way for her to have the college experience.” Besides her family’s expectations for life post-high school, Emily loves school, so college is a logical, next step.
When looking for a college opportunity that fits Emily, the family is searching for two things: 1. Full integration with peers without disabilities. Emily has been included throughout her school career, so why not in college as well? and 2. For Emily to “come out with something at the end.” Fairy wants Emily to leave college with a certificate or skill that helps her find gainful employment.
Like many other families with a high school student with a disability, Emily and her family are stumbling through the process of transition, grappling with who pays for college if the program is unable to offer financial aid, and wondering where the adult services fit into the equation. And, of course, there is the question of how do you find a school that fits a kid when there are so few options out there?
These are big issues to resolve, and fortunately for Emily, her college days are still down the road a couple of years. While she’s training and showing her calves for 4-H, dancing competitively, and doing her homework, we will keep working to make college more accessible to all.