College Access and Success 

Get tips on how to help your teen prepare for and succeed in college. 

Heading off to college is a significant time of transition for all teenagers. Having a chronic disease like juvenile arthritis means being more selective about where you go, knowing your educational rights and needs and how to get support and accommodations. Here’s a starter guide.

1. Pick the “right” college.

There are many factors that go into the choice of college. Finding a good fit both academically and socially is important, but there are some special considerations teens and young adults with arthritis should consider.

  • The physical campus. Schedule a tour to evaluate classrooms, residence halls, libraries, cafeterias. Play close attention to the following: - layout: expansive or contained - terrain: hilly or flat - accessibility: elevators, escalators, wheelchair ramps.
  • Access to medical care and specialists. Consider how easy or difficult it will be to travel to your current pediatric rheumatologist for regular checkups or flares. You’ll also want medical resources nearby. Ask about the following: - campus health clinic – fees, hours, location, expertise and ability to handle or refer more urgent needs - community medical centers – distance of local physicians and health care facilities from campus -  ongoing juvenile arthritis care – accessibility in time and distance to a local pediatric rheumatologist or rheumatologist with experience treating juvenile arthritis.
  • Support for students with special needs. All schools should have the ability to provide some support and accommodations to students with disabilities. Some schools, however, will have more resources and staff dedicated to supporting students with specific needs.

Ask about the following:

Organizational support - where do I go for help and how many personnel are dedicated to the support of students with disabilities?

Peer organizations – are there student organizations that offer advocacy, peer advisers, mentors and social support for students with disabilities? -  Accommodations track record – how long has the school successfully implementied campus and classroom accommodations for students with disabilities?

2. Know your educational rights.

Students in postsecondary schools are protected under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but the requirements vary from those that apply to public elementary, middle and high schools. Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) are not available at the college level.

3. Make a list of accommodations

You can use an existing 504 plan or IEP as a starting point. Make sure to establish a plan even if accommodations are not required right away. Some accommodations may include:

  • Priority scheduling, which facilitates placement in classes at optimal times and locations • Assigned notetaker, permission to record lectures or use computer during classes
  • Extra time to take tests or with assignments
  • Excused absences due to health issues
  • Special accommodations for labs or practicums
  • Transportation to campus and around campus
  • Accessible parking for classroom buildings and residence halls
  • A dorm room with accessibility features, and located on the first floor or close to elevators

4. Schedule a meeting.

Before the semester begins, seek out the dedicated support department for students with disabilities. The office may be identified as Disability Services, Student Disability Access Center or Academic Accessibility. Bring a list of questions and expected needs as the starting point for developing a 504 plan. Consult the college handbook or website for more information. If you will be living on campus, schedule a separate meeting with the Office of Housing/ Residential Services to arrange housing accommodations.

5. Determine the required documentation.

This may vary between colleges and by disability. Expect to provide  the following:

  •  A letter from the treating physician or a form provided by the school that is completed by your doctor
  •  A copy of the 504 plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) used throughout pre-college schooling
  •  A description of the history, current symptoms and severity of your arthritis
  •  A description of your current functional limitations that will impact academic performance

6. Stay involved with the process.

On campus, students are considered adults and are responsible for making arrangements. Even though parents can help get the initial plan in place and assist with bigger issues, students should complete the paperwork, attend all meetings and be familiar with grievance procedures.

7. Inform professors.

The accommodations office should facilitate arrangements for the agreed-upon classroom accommodations but establishing open communication with professors is the student’s responsibility. Introduce yourself, explain your situation and your accommodation needs. Reinforce your commitment to the class.

Diagnosed With Juvenile Arthritis?

Get the latest news and tips about living with Juvenile Arthritis in the Living Your Yes! e-newsletter.

I Want to Contribute
I Need Help
  • Donate


    Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life.

  • Volunteer


    Join us and become a Champion of Yes. There are many volunteer opportunities available.

  • Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Take part to be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis.

  • Partner


    Proud Partners of the Arthritis Foundation make an annual commitment to directly support the Foundation’s mission.


Ways to Give

Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life. Whether it is supporting cutting-edge research, 24/7 access to one-on-one support, resources and tools for daily living, and more, your gift will be life-changing.

Make a Donation

Help millions of people live with less pain and fund groundbreaking research to discover a cure for this devastating disease. Please, make your urgently-needed donation to the Arthritis Foundation now!

Become a Member

Become an Arthritis Foundation member today for just $20. You'll receive a year's worth of Arthritis Today magazine, access to helpful tools, resources, and more.

Make a Honor or Memorial Gift

Honor a loved one with a meaningful donation to the Arthritis Foundation. We'll send a handwritten card to the honoree or their family notifying them of your thoughtful gift.

Gift Planning

I want information on ways to remember the AF in my will, trust or other financial planning vehicles.


Volunteer Opportunities

The Arthritis Foundation is focused on finding a cure and championing the fight against arthritis with life-changing information, advocacy, science and community. We can only achieve these goals with your help. Strong, outspoken and engaged volunteers will help us conquer arthritis. By getting involved, you become a leader in our organization and help make a difference in the lives of millions. Join us and become a Champion of Yes.

More About Volunteering


Give Just 10 Minutes.

Tell us what matters most to you. Change the future of arthritis.

By taking part in the Live Yes! INSIGHTS assessment, you’ll be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis, for yourself and for 54 million others. And all it takes is just 10 minutes.

Your shared experiences will help:

- Lead to more effective treatments and outcomes
- Develop programs to meet the needs of you and your community
- Shape a powerful agenda that fights for you

Now is the time to make your voice count, for yourself and the entire arthritis community. 

Currently this program is for the adult arthritis community.  Since the needs of the juvenile arthritis (JA) community are unique, we are currently working with experts to develop a customized experience for JA families. 

How are you changing the future?

By sharing your experience, you’re showing decision-makers the realities of living with arthritis, paving the way for change. You’re helping break down barriers to care, inform research and create resources that make a difference in people’s lives, including your own.

Get Started


Meet Our Partners

As a partner, you will help the Arthritis Foundation provide life-changing resources, science, advocacy and community connections for people with arthritis, the nations leading cause of disability. Join us today and help lead the way as a Champion of Yes.


Our Trailblazers are committed partners ready to lead the way, take action and fight for everyday victories. They contribute $2,000,000 to $2,749,000


Our Visionary partners help us plan for a future that includes a cure for arthritis. These inspired and inventive champions have contributed $1,500,00 to $1,999,999.


Our Pioneers are always ready to explore and find new weapons in the fight against arthritis. They contribute $1,000,000 to $1,499,999.


Our Pacesetters ensure that we can chart the course for a cure for those who live with arthritis. They contribute $500,000 to $999,000.


Our Signature partners make their mark by helping us identify new and meaningful resources for people with arthritis. They contribute $250,000 to $499,999.


Our Supporting partners are active champions who provide encouragement and assistance to the arthritis community. They contribute $100,000 to $249,999.