Transition to College at College of San Mateo - Fact Sheet on Supported Education
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Transition to College
Fact Sheet on Supported Education

What is it?

Supported education is providing services to people who have a mental illness so they can have access to and utilize resources that will help them succeed in a college, university or technical training setting.

What services are provided?

College personnel provide, in addition to academic counseling, accommodations to address problems in functioning that students may have as a result of their psychological disabilities. Mental health staff provides information about educational services, advocacy, and case management services.

Who returns to school?

The average supported education student is about 34 years of age and has a diagnosis of either schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. Since the usual onset of psychiatric illness is 20 years of age, most supported education students have been hospitalized an average of seven times and have spent approximately 11 months in the hospital prior to returning to school.

What accommodations are necessary

The most common accommodations needed by people with mental illness are assistance with registration and financial aid. They also may need extended time for exams, changes in format or time frames for exams or assignments, tutoring, note taking assistance or tape recorders. Research has shown they do not need more accommodations than other disability groups.

What is the greatest challenge?

Stigma is the greatest challenge students face. Many people still believe that mental illness is a debilitating life-long disease and that people with a mental illness are dangerous. Research has shown that the majority of people with mental illness do recover. Research has also shown that people with mental illness do not commit more crimes than others. They are, however, often the victims of crime.

Do people with a mental illness disrupt the learning environment?

Research has shown that students with a mental illness are no more disruptive than other students.

Can students recovering from mental illness be successful in school?

According to a nation wide study, students in supported education programs complete 90 percent of the courses for which they enroll with an average grade point average of 3.3.

What are the positive benefits of supported education?

A national research study reveals that supported education students report a significantly greater level of satisfaction with their quality of life and a significantly higher level of self esteem than people with a mental illness who are not enrolled in school. They report higher levels of satisfaction with their living situation, finances, daily activities, social relations and family contacts than those who are not going to school. People who are enrolled in a supported education program have had decreased incidence of hospitalization and more than them are employed.