Transitioning to SJSU

Attending SJSUDifferences Between High School and College AccommodationsFrequently Asked QuestionsEarly StartUndergraduate Admisssions Appeal Due to Disability


Attending SJSU

New students attending San José State University will notice several differences upon coming to campus.  Some of these differences can be seen in the the registration process for disability services, the accommodations students receive, and the level of involvement from family and faculty.  All of these changes can be overwhelming; the Accessible Education Center (AEC) will help students transition to life at SJSU with resources in understanding the differences between high school and college, learning strategies and skills, and the resources available to you as a student. 


Differences Between High School and College Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

As students begin their academic careers at SJSU, it is important to keep in mind that the education and the accommodations received will be affected by a different set of laws, policies, and procedures. These laws guarantee equal access and opportunity to an education without fundamentally altering the essential requirements and expectations of a class or program. These laws require that the student assume responsibility for providing documentation of their disability, identify needed accommodations, and make timely requests for support and services. The transition from high school or community college to SJSU can be difficult for any student, especially for students with disabilities. Once transitioning over from high school to SJSU, students will be treated as adults and expected to assume responsibility in advocating for their needs. Additionally some of the accommodations students received in high school or at a community college may not be available or appropriate in a university such as SJSU. 

The AEC is the University center responsible for assisting students with disabilities to determine and provide reasonable and appropriate academic accommodations and services to promote retention and graduation. Students with disabilities are encouraged to register with the AEC to assist in achieving equal access to University programs and facilities.

Prior to attending SJSU, students should familiarize themselves with the changes that occur in the transition from high school to the university setting. 


Applicable Laws

High School

  • I.D.E.A. (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
  • Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • I.D.E.A. is about SUCCESS


  • A.D.A. (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990)
  • Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • A.D.A. is about ACCESS



High School

  • Student is identified by the school and is supported by parents and teachers
  • Primary responsibility for arranging accommodations belongs to the school
  • Teachers approach the student if they believe he/she need assistance


  •  Student must self-identify to the Accessible Education Center
  • Primary responsibility for self-advocacy and arranging accommodations belongs to the student
  • Professors are usually open and helpful, but most expect students to initiate contact if needing assistance


Parental Role

High School

  • Parent has access to student records and can participate in the accommodation process
  • Parent advocates for student
  • Parents and teachers may closely monitor student’s study habits


  •  Parent does not have access to student records without student’s written consent
  • Student advocates for self
  • Students are responsible for developing study habits that lead to their own success


Required Documentation

High School

  • I.E.P. (Individualized Education Plan and/or 504 Plan)
  • School provides evaluation at no cost to student
  • Documentation focuses on determining whether student is eligible for services based on specific disability categories in I.D.E.A.


  •  High School I.E.P. and 504 are not sufficient; student documentation may need to be updated.  Documentation guidelines specify information needed for each category of disability.
  • Student must get evaluation at own expense
  • Documentation must provide information on specific functional limitations, and demonstrate the need for specific accommodations



High School

  • Teachers may modify curriculum and/or alter pace of assignments
  • Students are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed, and often re-taught, in class
  • Students are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed, and often re-taught, in class
  • Students are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed, and often re-taught, in class
  • Attendance is taken and reported


  • Professors are not required to modify curriculum design or alter assignment deadlines
  • Students are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing which may not be directly addressed in class
  • Students need to review class notes and text material regularly
  • Professors expect students to meet syllabus requirements and are available for meetings with students during office hours.
  • Student is responsible for attending class


Grades and Tests

High School

  • I.E.P. or 504 plan may include modifications to test format and/or grading
  • Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material
  • Makeup tests are often available
  • Teachers often take time to remind students of assignments and due dates


  •  Grading and test format changes (i.e. multiple choice vs. essay) are generally not available.  Accommodations to HOW tests are given (extended time, test proctors) are available when supported by disability documentation
  • Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material
  • Makeup tests are seldom an option; if they are, students will need to request them
  • Professors expect students to read, save, and consult the course syllabus (outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of students, when it is due, and how students will be graded


Study Responsibilities

High School

  • Tutoring and study support may be a service provided as part of an I.E.P. or 504 plan
  • Student's time and assignments are structured by others
  • Students may study outside of class as little as 0 to 2 hours a week, and this may be mostly last-minute test preparation


  • Students with disabilities must seek out tutoring resources as they are available to all students.
  • Students manage their own time and complete assignments independently
  • Students need to study at least 2 to 3 hours outside of class for each hour in class


Adapted from ADHEAD guidelines 2010


Frequently Asked Questions

Admission to SJSU

Applying for AEC Accommodations and Services

Academic Advising Questions

Housing Accommodations

Disability-Related Inquiries


Admission to SJSU

Q: Is there a separate admissions process to SJSU for students with disabilities?

A: All students must apply through the same admissions process and meets the admissions criteria.  It is important to first visit the Admissions webpage. There you will find information about the eligibility criteria for admission to SJSU. 

Applying for AEC Accommodations and Services

Q: What type of documentation is required to register with AEC?

A: AEC Guidelines for Disability Documentation are provided on the website. Following these guidelines ensures that documentation submitted to the AEC verifies the student’s disability and supports requests for accommodations and services.  

Q: How do I notify SJSU that I have a disability and need accommodations?

A: Visit AEC's "How to Register with AEC" page and follow the 4 steps.

Q: Will the accommodations I have received at previous institutions be available at SJSU?

A: Accommodations received at a previous institution do not assure that students will be prescribed the same accommodations at SJSU.  Course accommodations are prescribed following a review of students documentation and intake meeting, and provided only where disability-related educational limitation(s) indicate need.  

Q: If I am registered with the AEC, will I receive priority registration?

A: Priority registration received at previous institution(s) does not determine eligibility at SJSU; priority registration is determined on a case by case basis.

Q: Am I required to inform my instructors about my disability?

A: Students are not legally required to disclose the nature of their disability to faculty. However, students utilizing AEC services will need to disclose their AEC registration if they will be utilizing course accommodations. 

Q: How long does AEC maintain my confidential file?

A: The AEC purges student files after five years of inactivity in the SJSU system.  The AEC recommends students retain copies for their own records.

Q: Is the confidentiality of a student’s records/status maintained through the Accessible Education Center?

A: Yes. The AEC does not release information to outside parties without written consent from the student. As well, no record of disability status appears on any academic transcript or permanent document maintained by the Office of the Registrar. 

AEC practices the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which is a law that protects students' educational records and prevents the improper disclosure of these records. As an AEC student, you must sign a release of information and specify the individual you are authorizing the release of disability-related information. Unless AEC has the student’s written and signed authorization, AEC will not disclose information to faculty, staff, parents, or other third parties.


Academic Advising Questions

Q: If my disability prevents me from satisfying a basic skill GE requirement, can I petition for a substitution?

A: Given the uniqueness of this type of petition, you will need to confer with an AEC counselor to determine eligibility. 

Q: I have received an approval from my community college for a GE Math substitution.  Will SJSU also approve of this petition?

A: SJSU does not accept petitions granted at previous institutions. Students will need to speak to an AEC Counselor to determine eligibility to submit a similar petition.  

Q: Does SJSU waive course and/or test requirements for students with disabilities?

A: All students must meet all graduation requirements, which include course and test requirements. In rare instances, students may petition to have a graduation requirement substituted with appropriate coursework for disability-related reasons.

Q: I’m registered with AEC; would that allow me to register if I have a hold on my account?

A: Holds may be placed on students’ records by various campus departments for different reasons (e.g. fees, advising, or documents). Student cannot register if the hold prevents registration. Log into your MySJSU and click on the “details” link on the hold to view the hold information including how to clear them.

Q: Can the AEC Academic Advisor removes my Registration hold and probation hold?

A: No, the AEC Academic Advisors is unable to remove holds on students’ account. A hold must be cleared with the department that placed the hold. Log into your MySJSU and click on the “details” link on the hold to view the hold information including how to clear them.

Q: How many Waitlist units can I register for? Does it change as my total enrolled units change?

A: Waitlist units depend on units students are able to register for. For a detail explanation, visit the Variable Waitlist Unit Process starting Fall'18.

Q: I’m registered with AEC, can AEC drop my classes?

A: No, AEC is unable to drop classes for students registered with AEC. Students can drop a class until the drop date via MySJSU.  The deadline for dropping a class (without a "W") is posted on the SJSU Registration Calendar.

Students may petition to Late Drop for serious and compelling reasons after the drop deadline. Late drops are to be submitted to the counter of Academic Advising and Retention Services in the Student Services Center. Please refer to the form for date when petition should be submitted. Continue attending class during the late drop procedure. Instructor's signature and submission of the petition do not guarantee approval!

Q: Why do I need to take the WST?

A: In 1977, the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) was implemented system-wide through all the CSU campuses to evaluate university level writing skills. A passing score on the WST is a pre-requisite for the SJSU Studies requirements.  Should you require accommodations, contact the AEC to register to request WST accommodations at least one month prior to the date of the WST. Please see the AEC website for more information.

Q: Does AEC provide tutors to assist students with disabilities?

A: The AEC does not provide tutoring for students with disabilities. The University offers tutoring to all students through campus resources such as Peer Connections and the Writing Center. AEC students utilizing these campus resources are provided consideration for additional support time. 


Housing Accommodations

Q: Is University Housing accessible for students with disabilities?

A: Yes. Students requesting on-campus housing must indicate their accommodation needs on their University Housing Application (e.g., wheelchair accessibility, doorbell and telephone signalers). Disability documentation must be submitted to the AEC in addition to requesting accommodations on the Housing Application. The AEC recommends you make an appointment as soon as possible with an AEC counselor regarding your accommodations.


Disability-Related Inquiries

Q: Are there any financial aid scholarships or programs available for students with disabilities? 

A: Scholarships for students with disabilities may be available through the private sector; this information is available on the Financial and Scholarship Office website.

Q: How do I make a complaint or express a concern regarding a prescribed accommodation?

A: Faculty, staff or students with questions, concerns or disagreements regarding a prescribed accommodation(s) should schedule an appointment to talk with an AEC Counselor to discuss the concern to resolve the matter as expeditiously as possible. Students should make a reasonable, good-faith attempt to resolve the complaint on an informal basis following the Student Grievance Procedures in accordance with Presidential Directive 97-03, Accommodations for Students with Disabilities. 

Q: Who is qualified to be my notetaker?

A: Notetakers must be matriculated students and enrolled in the same course you are requesting notes. Notetaking is a semester-long service provided through the last class session. Notetakers are required to complete the following AEC notetaking packet: Memorandum of Understanding/Confidentiality Policy and the Verification of Notetaking Services Rendered.

Q: I am pregnant and need to get a disabled parking permit for SJSU. Where do I go?

A: Disabled parking is available to students who are expecting in campus disabled parking locations. A temporary (red) DMV issued disabled parking placard along with your SJSU parking permit must be displayed in your vehicle. Failure to display both items properly as described in SJSU’s Parking Regulations will result in a parking citation from SJSU Parking Services

Q: Does the AEC loan out wheelchairs?

A: The University does not provide wheelchairs to students or University guests.  

Q: I think I might have a learning disability. What should I do? 

A: The AEC provides Learning Disability Assessment for students who are self-referred or referred, by faculty or staff on campus. Students requesting Learning Disability assessment must complete a comprehensive Learning Disability Intake/Assessment Application and return a hard copy to AEC, Administration Building, Room 110. Following the student’s submitted application, AEC's Educational Psychologist will contact the student directly.