Possibilities for post-secondary studies

 Source: Institut des troubles d’apprentissage

All secondary students must make a choice when they want to pursue their studies and made in accordance with their interests and abilities. However, students with learning difficulties must ask questions about the services offered according to the programs and the establishment they want to choose. It’s important to be well-informed. Inclusion consultant Odette Raymond speaks of three types of post-secondary education:

The three types of education

What is vocational training?

An education that follows secondary school and that allows the learning of a trade and becoming a specialist in varied fields (construction, electrical work, truck driving, esthetics, finance, etc.).

What assistance services are available for students with a learning disability?

All vocational training centres have personnel responsible for students with a disability, and this category includes students with learning difficulties.

The best access point is the SARCA (Reception, Referral, Counselling and Support Services): SARCA is an indispensable resource that allows you to obtain all the educational and vocational information you seek, to explore your achievements, competencies and options for a career plan and vocational guidance. SARCA is the bridge between the individual and the program they want to pursue.

Complementary information

Career information allows the person to acquire the knowledge and the necessary know-how to practice a trade or other career activity. They must know that there are a multitude of programs, dozens in fact, in very diversified sectors. There are many vocational training centres throughout the province, so visit their websites to discover all options.

In vocational training there are services for students with learning difficulties who are not obliged – as they are in cégep, college or university – to supply a medical diagnosis.

To find the SARCA in your region, consult the list of SARCAs throughout Quebec.

* A person with a learning difficulty does not need a diagnosis to benefit from services from assistance

What does the SARCA do?

This service addresses all adults, whether they are studying or not, who need assistance in their plan to return to school, whether for adult education or vocational training. They will find the following services offered by professionals:

  • Reception: to know the possibilities and to elaborate and accomplish their plan.
  • School and career information: to be informed about study programs and trades.
  • Skills exploration: to have their file analyzed and steered towards the appropriate services.
  • Career guidance: to make career choices according to their situation and their experiences.

Learn more about services offered by SARCA.

What is college education?

When we talk about cégep we’re talking about public college – there are also private colleges. In both cases there are services for students with disabilities, including those with learning disabilities.

What type of programs are offered?

There are two main types of programs in college:

  • Pre-university or preparatory programs for university that you complete at your rhythm and can be spread out over two years.
  • Technical programs that lead directly to the job market and last three years.

*In cégep and private colleges, a diagnosis by a recognized professional is required if you have a learning disability and want to obtain specific services.

What must be done to obtain services once admitted to college?

In all cégeps there are adapted services departments that offer support for persons with learning disabilities. Once admitted, take an appointment with an adapted services counsellor as quickly as possible. View the adapted services coordinates in Quebec colleges.

How to prepare for this meeting?

During the meeting, it is important to bring your diagnosis and all documents from secondary school because your file does not automatically follow you. You must make a request – before leaving high school – to obtain your assistance file that contains, among other information, the Individualized Education Plan in place during secondary school.

Even if the student does not have a diagnosis, it is still preferable to make an appointment with the counsellor to see what possible services are offered. In all private colleges and cégeps, you have access to several services for the success of all students, such as workshops on stress management, organization, etc.

How do I inform my teachers about my accommodations?

The role of the adapted services counsellor is also to make the connection between the student and their teachers. In certain private colleges and cégeps, the counsellor will give the teachers a letter informing them of the accommodations approved for the student. In other establishments, it is the student that must present this letter to their teachers.

In either case, it is important to present this information to their teachers as quickly as possible, to have direct contact with them.

Complementary information

Public college (cégep); private (some establishments are subsidized, some not).

For admissions:

You can refer to the Centres collégiaux de soutien à l’intégration (CCSI)  or Adapted Services in the college system.

What is a university education?

It allows one to specialize in a specific domain. There are numerous educational programs offered according to each university. One must inform themselves about the programs as well as the offered services.

Where do I inquire about services offered for students with learning disabilities?

Each university has a support service for students with disabilities. This very wide definition covers all situations of disability and includes students with difficulties or a learning disability.

The further they advance in their academic journey, the more the student is autonomous. They must therefore arrange to meet a counsellor in their university who will guide them on the process to follow to obtain services.

Complementary information

There are 17 universities in Quebec, and each has their own reception service and services for students with disabilities, which includes learning disabilities and associated challenges. Each university also has its own admissions process. Consult the website of the university of your choice.

Tuition fees vary according to program and university. There can also be substantial fees for course materials and books.

The principle of student services is to offer to the individual requesting it with a supporting diagnosis, the services, tools and accommodations so that they can demonstrate their competencies, learn and be evaluated like everyone else.

In conclusion

For all these three types of education, services for students with learning difficulties are in place and counsellors can support them. It is advisable that students contact each of their teachers as the student themselves are the greatest authority on their own path and strengths.

It is especially important to have a meeting with each teacher before the first class, and yes, it’s possible to pursue studies after secondary with a learning disability.

There are several possibilities in vocational training, college and university!