Students audit (or take for credit) two academic classes per semester based on their interests and career goals, such as art, theater, music, science, IT, nutrition, health, education, early childhood studies, and/or Bible. The program director and faculty advisor work with university faculty to determine which classes meet the interests and abilities of IDEAL students. The program director also works with the instructor to create an individual learning plan that identifies any necessary accommodations to the syllabi or course material. Students have the option of completing all of the course work and/or tests or any quantity of the work that meets their individual goals.
Lipscomb’s campus is safe and secure, as well as small and easy to navigate. IDEAL students are allowed access to on-campus clubs and organizations, including Best Buddies, which is already an active club on campus. Students have memberships to the Student Activity Center, receive a log in for on-campus computers and use a Lipscomb email address. At this point, on-campus housing is not available to IDEAL students, but it is a future goal.
Many students with ID/DD need assistance with independent living skills that will help them be better employees and give them the option to live independently. Each IDEAL student takes two classes per semester that teach these skills. Skills may be in the areas of technology, banking, cooking, cleaning, shopping, hygiene, social skills, self-awareness, safety, and self-advocacy. Classes are taught by the program staff, Lipscomb faculty, or students in programs related to a field of study (education, psychology, nursing etc.)
Throughout the program, students are encouraged to monitor their own progress, make choices about classes and leisure activities, and interact with faculty to meet their own needs. Students learn to make a resume, look for jobs, use public transportation, and manage their own time. The goal is that the students will be as independent as possible when they leave the program.
Peer Mentors are an essential component of the program. Lipscomb students serve as peer mentors to the students with ID/DD and accompany them to meals, chapel, and the gym. They also help them study and organize their course materials. Volunteers are matched based on expertise, desires and their individual class schedules.
Ultimately, IDEAL helps to bridge the gap between high school and adulthood for every student who participates in the program. Being more prepared for adulthood greatly enhances the IDEAL students' quality of life. Since a post-secondary experience is valuable on multiple levels for many citizens, Lipscomb strives to provide a program that will ensure that the IDEAL students will deeply value their college experience and everything gained from it.
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