Book Review: From High School to College: Steps to Success for Students with Disabilities

NOTE: This article was updated in March 2023 to include links to the new edition of this book.  Still the same good information – just more of it!

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years.  We’ve offered some lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. Visit our Resources page for suggestions of important books for college parents and their students.

I work with first-year college students who have Learning Differences and ADHD at a small four-year liberal arts college. Every year I meet families and students making this transition who do not have a clear understanding on the differences in disability services and accommodations between secondary and postsecondary levels.

If you are the parent of a student with Learning Differences and you only have time to read one book about the shift from high school to college, please choose this bookSeven Steps to College Success: A Pathway for Students with Disabilities, by Elizabeth C. Hamblet. It covers the essential topics both you and your student need to know with clear insight, common sense, and wisdom.

Elizabeth Hamblet draws on recent research, reflections from students, transition specialists, assistive technology and learning specialists, and families.  She has distilled a tremendous amount of information into six steps. If you and your student understand these steps, there is no doubt that you will have a transition that is smoother, easier, and calmer.

Here’s a sneak preview of the six steps: (Check out the newest edition that has seven steps!)

Step 1: Establish a Foundation in the Law and Research: Here you will find common sense language explaining sophisticated differences between the laws that govern the education in high school and college, for students with learning disabilities. This chapter is so important I would suggest reading it twice!

Step 2: Know Students’ Responsibilities and Rights: In college students have both rights and responsibilities they did not have in high school.

Step 3: Pave the Way to College: Here you will find concrete suggestions for how teachers, schools, and families can help students prepare for college.

Step 4: Anticipate the College Environment: The focus is on the differences between high school and college in terms of academic demands, time management, organization, and use of support.

Step 5: Find the Right College: Finding the ”right” college when a student has learning challenges is a more complicated process. It is crucial to know what questions to ask and what the answers may mean.

Step 6: Secure the Right Accommodations:  What are reasonable accommodations and how do students access them? What kind of documentation is required and how can student best prepare for self-advocacy in the college setting?

Please pick up this book and become more prepared for the exciting and sometimes stressful transition between high school and college, when your student has learning challenges.  In addition to this book, you can access more of Elizabeth Hamblet on her website, or her blog .

About the author

Elizabeth C. Hamblet has been a college learning disabilities specialist at the college level for two decades.  In addition to working as a college consultant, she is a nationally-requested speaker and Understood expert on preparing students with disabilities for successful college transition.  Her work has appeared in numerous journals and online platforms. Explore her site,, and connect with her at or Twitter @echamblet.

What the author has to say about the book 

”My own training as a high school learning disabilities consultant, teacher, and case manager contained no information about the disability services system to which my students with LD and ADHD would transition in college. It was only after I shifted to a career at the postsecondary level that I realized that my training program in special education did not include any discussion of postsecondary disability services (DS), which work differently and place much more of an emphasis on students’ independent functioning…”

”Students’ high school individualized education program (IEP) and Section 504 plan goals should be geared toward independent academic and personal functioning by the time students finish high school. The information presented in this book is intended to support professional, families, and students as they work toward this end.”

What others have to say about the book 

”Elizabeth Hamblet has written the definitive book on the transition from high school to college — not only for students with learning differences but for students in general. She has a highly sophisticated, subtle understanding of these young men and women, never resorting to the stereotypes so common in the lay press. From High School to College provides everything — and more — that a student or parent could need to make this crucial transition a triumphant one.

Ned Hallowell

Author, Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder; Delivered from Distraction; and Superparenting for ADD

”The world of young adults with disabilities is all too often turned upside down when they transition to college and the workplace. Young adults need to have well-honed self-advocacy skills, be confident about how and when to disclose a disability, and be able to build and nurture a community of support — all essential ingredients along the path to independence. From High School to College guides readers through ways to help students build the skills and strategies needed for postsecondary success. A welcome addition to any educator’s (and parent’s) library.

Sheldon Horowitz

Senior Director of Learning Resources & Research, National Center, for Learning Disabilities

Note: Some links in our post are for affiliate products. If you use our links, College Parent Central receives a small percentage of your purchase price. This does not change the cost to you.  We think it’s only fair to let you know that.


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