Support system: DARE or not, find out about supports for students
School-leavers who applied for the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) will know by now whether or not their application has been successful.
Successful applicants are often invited to their college to meet with the disability services and find out more about available supports.
However, many students with a disability, learning difficulty or significant ongoing illness find they do not qualify for the DARE criteria. This does not mean they do not qualify for or benefit from some support at third level. DARE is about entering college on lower points and has nothing to do with disability support.
Hopefully, any CAO applicant with a learning difficulty, disability or ongoing illness will have ticked the relevant box on their CAO form. If so, their college will contact them to seek more information on the type of supports they may require such as transport, personal assistant, dyslexia support, etc. If an applicant chooses not to indicate their disability, they can still access such support by making contact with the disability office at their college as soon as possible.
Students are under no obligation to take up any support; however, they should ensure they are aware of what is available to them and they may choose to access it at a later date.
Many students may feel uncomfortable discussing their disability with the college for which they have an offer. Reasons may include not wanting to appear different from their peers or concerns that the college may not 'want' them.
Often they may not known the type of practical supports that are available. For example, some students with dyslexia do not qualify for DARE, but colleges are happy to discuss supports with them, and students may find that they are much easier to access than in second level. Practical assistance can include a longer borrowing time on library books, or access to audio versions.
The level of difficulty involved in the transition to third level is underestimated by all students, who expect they have already overcome the most difficult part by gaining entry. Understanding supports, whether disability-related or otherwise, increases the likelihood of students remaining in third level should they begin to struggle with this new environment.