Key Points About Disabilities Services
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states that: “no otherwise qualified handicapped individual shall, solely by reason of the handicap, be excluded from the participation in, denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” (29 United States Code 794) Compliance with this law requires that academic institutions receiving federal financial aid, like Cornell College, provide the opportunity for students with disabilities to achieve success in the classroom that is comparable to that provided to other students.
Qualifications for services:
A student qualifies for disability services at Cornell College when:
The student provides up-to-date documentation of the disability from a medical doctor, educational or school psychologist, or other individual licensed by the state of origin to diagnose learning or physical disabilities.
- The documentation includes recommendations for accommodations for the disability.
- The student requests the approved accommodation(s) from each course instructor within the first three days of each term.
Generally a student is responsible for:
- Identifying him/herself to the Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising as a student with a disability;
- Providing appropriate documentation of the disability;
- Identifying him/herself to each instructor within the first three days of the term if requesting accommodation;
- Ordering special materials for class such as taped texts, if available, or requesting assistance in locating a tutor or source of notes; and
- Initiating contact with tutors or other resource people once they have been arranged.
Special Challenges at Cornell College: The Block Plan
If you are considering Cornell College you have learned that we do things a little differently here. We do not have semester-long courses, but instead we have sessions or blocks so you take one course at a time for 18 days.
This block plan is a uniquely intensive academic schedule that allows students to explore a different subject every three and a half weeks. Students take one course at a time, with each block covering the same amount of material as a course on the semester system. On the Block Plan, learning is fast paced, with a semester’s worth of work packed into 18 class days. A typical day might include four hours of class—plus labs or field trips. After class, students might read a few long chapters, spend time in the library doing research for a paper, and collaborate with classmates on a presentation. It is not unusual to have a small paper or homework problems due every night on top of progress towards larger on-going projects. As you can imagine, every day counts!
- Unique to our one-class-at-a-time format, there is an increased pace of reading required. This makes sense when you consider a semester's worth of reading packed into 18 days. Students are regularly expected to read 50-100 pages of challenging course materials per night. If reading is a challenge for someone, whether due to disability or just comfort with reading, we will advise them to start reading their textbooks during the block break before the block begins. It may or may not be possible to do extracurricular activities during a block, due to the time constraints required to finish the readings assigned. Accommodations with digital books CAN still be made on the block plan, so you'll still want to coordinate efforts with the disabilities service coordinator in the office of Academic Support and Advising. Ideally you would order your books two blocks in advance of the course in question to have them ready when you will need them.
- The one class at a time format also means that there might be a homework assignment or writing assignment due each day. Inherent in this program is the fact that there are occasionally, but rarely, gaps in the schedule. This means that it is critical to use time management skills to make the most of your time.
We believe that one course at a time offers some wonderful and unique benefits to all students. You can focus all your attention on one course, you are in class at the same time as most of your peers, you will spend 2-4 hours in class each day with the same people, getting to know them better. The faculty member is accessible to you because you are the only set of students for that block.
Is the Block Plan intense? You bet. It isn’t for everyone. It’s concentrated and rigorous. But if you’re excited about the opportunities offered by the Block Plan—and up to the challenges—the Academic Support and Advising office will help to provide access to this unique learning environment. And if you have questions, we’re here to help you learn more so you can determine if Cornell College is the best fit for you.