College and Training

Trade and Technical Schools

Trade or technical schools provide hands-on training related to a specific job or career field. Trade schools tend to be less expensive than traditional colleges and students graduate with actual work experience and the on-the-job training. In addition, most trade school certifications can be earned within two years or less.

Trade schools in the Central Massachusetts region provide a range of career training options in fields such as:


  • Automotive Technology 
  • Electronic Systems 
  • HVAC Technology 
  • Dental/Medical Assistant 
  • Oil/Gas Heat


  • Health Administration
  • Practical Nursing
  • Computer/Network Technology
  • CADD (Design)
  • Construction

Community Colleges (2-Year Schools) 

2-year colleges such as community, vocational, or junior colleges typically provide a range of Associates Degree programs.  After completing a two-year program, students who wish to continue their education may tranfer some or all of their credits to a 4-year university. 

Community colleges are often significantly less expensive than 4-year colleges and universities.  In addition, they tend to have smaller class sizes and more compact campuses.  Community colleges collaborate with local businesses and industries in order to ensure that graduates will be able to find work in their field of study.

The primary mission of most community colleges is to allow all students to reach their educational goals.  For this reason, community colleges often provide a broader range of supports for students with disabilities, as compared to 4-year schools.

Colleges and Universities (4-Year Schools) 

4-year colleges and universities allow students to earn Bachelor, Masters, or Doctorate degrees.  Students who complete a 4-year degree program are typically able to enter higher-paying career fields and may be required to continue their education further in order to achieve the necessary credentials for their desired career choice.  4-year colleges and universities require significant time and financial commitments compared to other forms of vocational training. 

High School vs College

What is the Difference for Students with Disabilities?

High School College

In High School, students with disabilities have an IEP and specialized services to ensure that they make progress in the curriculum.  Their services and supports are mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

In College, students with disabilities recieve accommodations in order to ensure that they can access the instruction.  Their supports are mandated by the Americans with Disabiliites Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

High School students are supported by parents and teachers who work together to help them be successful.

College Students are expected to advocate for themselves in order to be successful.   Parents are typically not involved.

The Special Education Department supports all High School students with disabilities by providing the services mandated in their IEP document.

The Disability Services Office develops accommodation plans for those college students who request support.  There are no IEPs in college. 

Disability Services Office 

Most colleges and universities have a Disability Services Office that provides supports to students with disabilities.  The goal of the DSO is to ensure that all students have equal access to the curriculum.  Students should bring documentation of their disability (recent testing, IEPs, medical forms) to the DSO in order to determine what type of accommodations they are eligible to receive in college.

Once an accommodation plan has been developed the student is responsible for communicating his or her needs to the professors and instructors of each class.  Students who are struggling in a class must seek out academic supports available at the institution.  Most schools have an academic support program where tutoring and other support resources are provided.

College Application Process 

Students in their Junior year (11th Grade) of High School should begin to meet more frequently with their guidance counselor in order to discuss their post-graduation plans.  Student applying to college will work with their guidance counselor to narrow their college search and determine possible career interests.  

Students in their Senior year (12th Grade) of High School should generally meet with their guidance counselor about once a month in order to receive support with the college application process.  Students will typically use the Naviance program to select schools, complete the Common App, and keep track of all the steps of the application process. Guidance counselors can provide support with:


  • Preparing for standardized tests (SAT/ACT)
  • Visiting/Selecting colleges
  • Securing recommendations
  • Completing applications
  • Applying for financial aid
  • Sending transcripts


For More Information...