AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
Creating inclusive environments in education & employment for people with disabilities.


Into College with an Intellectual Disability

Below you'll find some tips and advice for students with an intellectual disability seeking to enter college and see the experiences of Trinity College students.


  • Take advantage of all orientation programmes offered in your college, not just the orientation for your own course. Get familiar with the campus in advance.
  • Get to know your classmates. You can support each other throughout the course.
  • Participate in student life. Join some college societies and take part in new activities.
  • Ask for help if you need it. There are lots of supports on offer so make sure to use them.
  • Stick with it, even if it feels a little challenging at first. 

Download the Tips in PDF Format>>


Dr. Mary Ann O'DonovanDr. Mary-Ann O’Donovan is an Assistant Professor in Intellectual Disability and Inclusion within the School of Education in Trinity College Dublin. She is the Course Coordinator for the Level 5 Certificate in Arts, Science and Inclusive Applied Practice for people with intellectual disabilities within the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID). Mary-Ann also teaches a number of modules on the ASIAP course, including Entrepreneurship and Disability, Health Promotion and Intellectual Disabilities and Marketing and Disability.

Mary-Ann completed her PHD in Health Services Research and Population Health Sciences in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland 2015. The PhD focused on the health and housing needs and later life transitions of older people with an intellectual disability. Previous work experience includes Project Manager of the IDS-TILDA study, management of the Department of Health's National Physical and Sensory Disability Database (NPSDD) in the Health Research Board, research officer in the National Disability Authority and the Rehab Group.

There are a number of strands to Mary-Ann's research interests including:

  • Key life transitions, housing mobility, health service utilisation and access, non-medical determinants of health, choice and self-determination for people with an intellectual disability.
  • Policy analysis through a human rights framework, particularly in the context of health inequalities for people with intellectual disabilities.
  • Analysis of large datasets, survey, census and administrative data and comparability of disability statistics.
  • An emerging research area of interest includes educational transitions, pathways into and out of third level education, and the relationship between educational and other life transitions over the life course.

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