Introduction: What is the Transition Program?
The Middlesex Community College Transition Program is a two year certificate of completion program for learning disabled students. Students receive a certificate in Business and Office Support. The Transition Program is a nationally recognized program, and the only community college program in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The program has been in operation since 1985 and is located on the Bedford campus of Middlesex Community College.
How Are Students Referred To The Program?
Many prospective students first hear about the Transition Program from their high school (public and private) guidance counselors, special education teachers, or Mass. Rehabilitation Commission counselors. Others may have heard about our program at college fairs held at their high school. Still others have learned about the program through newspaper articles, local media or from friends. The Transition Program holds several daytime and evening “Open Houses” each year to recruit new students. Prospective students and their parents, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Counselors, as well as school personnel such as guidance counselors, special education teachers, and social workers are invited.
How Are Students Admitted To The Program?
Unlike the Community College as a whole, which has an open admissions policy, the Transition Program has a very selective admissions policy. Students must complete a lengthy application process. In addition to the application, students must submit three letters of recommendation. The results from recent I.Q. testing, individual diagnostic math and reading tests, and a diagnostic interview by a certified psychologist, must also be submitted. Once all these materials have been received and reviewed by the admissions committee, the applicant is informed of whether or not he/she meets the criteria for a personal interview. Students must bring a parent or guardian with them to the interview.
The Transition Program accepts no more than 20 students each year. We want to accept students into the program in business and industry who will be successful. Since we are not a therapeutic program and are not staffed to provide ongoing or intensive counseling services, we look for students who are able to work and maintain appropriate behavior at their worksites, as well as in a community college environment, with minimal supervision.
What Types of Students Are Accepted Into The Program?
While there is no standard of profile of Transition program students, candidates usually have the following characteristics:
- Massachusetts residency;
- A high school diploma or G.E.D.
- A history of receiving special education services in school;
- An interest in training for an entry-level position in an office or in business and industry
- Evidence of the ability to participate effectively in a program located on a community college campus;
- The ability to utilize on-the-job placements in business and industry with minimal supervision.
Functionally, the ideal candidate will have the following characteristics and skills:
- Ability in the low-average range of intelligence as measured by standardized I.Q. tests:
- Reading and math skills at the fifth to eighth grade level. Students lacking basic skill competencies in isolated areas will be screened to determine if their strengths may compensate for the particular deficiency;
- Some successful work experience, either volunteer or paid.
Students participating in Middlesex Community College’s Transition Program have a wide range of interested and abilities. One thing they have in common is that they are learning disabled. This means that they may receive inaccurate information through their senses and/or have trouble processing or storing that information. This disability may affect their performance, but they are not mentally retarded. Typically, Transition Students do not have the academic skills in reading, writing and math that are commensurate with their age. This is especially apparent in their written language- which may consist of poor spelling, handwriting or composition skills.
Typically, our students are between 18 and 25 years of age. Most come to us directly from high school. Some have work experience, and a few have attempted regular community college programs and have not been successful.
What Is The Philosophy Of The Transition Program?
One of the primary differences between the Transition Program and those programs offered at the secondary level is the approach to the student. To quote the words of the former Transition Program Director, Ms. Karen Muncaster, “At the high school level students are nurtured .In the college; we challenge them, each to his own personal limits. We treat them as adults. We do a lot of cheerleading, but not a lot of hand holding.” Treating the students as adults means that all of our interactions and communications are with them, not their parents. All correspondence, including grades, deficiency notices and evaluations are sent to the student, not to their parents. While we encourage student to share this information with their parents, the decision is theirs. Students are responsible for their own transportation to the college and to their internships. While many of our students drive, others use public transportation or rely on their parents to drive them. Student’s transportation needs are taken into consideration when placing them at their internships. Those students who rely on public transportation are usually placed in Boston, Cambridge or Lowell, while those students who drive are placed in the suburban communities surrounding the college.