The Raising Expectations for Academic Learning or REAL Certificate offers students with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the same learning environments available to same-age peers in an academic-, vocational- and social inclusion-focused program. This two-year program includes auditing a minimum of one (1) undergraduate course per semester and completion of a specified number of vocational and other experiences. An individual plan for college participation is developed for each student.
The REAL Certificate is a Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Program approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Eligible students are therefore able to apply for certain types of federal aid. See the Student With Intellectual Disabilities eligibility section of the Federal Student Aid website (studentaid.ed.gov) for further information.
For updates on the REAL Certificate, find us on Facebook (/REALCertificate) and Twitter (@REAL_CERT)
This certificate is for interested and motivated students with intellectual disabilities who are:
Between the ages of 18 and 25.
In their final years of high school (up to 3 years) or who have completed secondary education.
Not able to access college by meeting typical entrance criteria.
Able to learn to navigate the college environment with necessary supports and to be unsupervised for a minimum of one hour.
Able to arrange transportation to and from campus.
This certificate does not offer higher education credits towards a college degree.
Academic Requirements and Supports
The REAL certificate requires four (4) full semesters of study. Individual planning sessions guide the selection of courses and activities for each semester the student is registered in the certificate. Courses are selected based on student interest for vocational or personal development. The following describes the requirements that will be completed each semester (for 4 semesters):
1. Minimum one undergraduate course (determined by student interest). The student will attend, participate, and complete assignments (modified as needed).
3-6 hours/week – attending class
3-6 hours/week – tutoring and enrichment
2. Work experience: Job shadowing on campus.
3. Social opportunities: Including eating and spending time with peers, physical activity, events, and clubs.
4. Individual instruction: Provided by peer mentors and certificate staff to meet goals as planned for each student. Instruction may be provided by outside agency.
Supports are provided by the certificate coordinator and peer mentors. Courses will most likely be audited, but may be taken for credit if the student is capable of meeting the requirements of the course without modification of its content. Supports for accessing courses, vocational experiences, and other instruction are individually addressed.
Students spend approximately 20 hours per week on campus attending classes, gaining work experience, receiving academic tutoring and life skills instruction, and socializing with peers. Students follow the regular Fall/Spring semester calendar.
The cost of this certificate is $6,000 per semester, which includes the costs associated with auditing classes, taking part in work-related experiences and community-based social instruction. It does not include the cost of materials needed for classes, meals or other activities that require additional charges. Faculty or staff tuition remission may not be used to pay for this program.
For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of our students who completed the program, and other important information, please visit www.arcadia.edu/gainful.
Medicaid Home and Community-Based Waivers
Waiver funds may be used to pay for the REAL Certificate. If you are currently a recipient of a Consolidated or Person/Family Directed Supports (PFDS) waiver, please contact our staff to request further information on the process for using these funds to pay for the program.
The REAL Certificate will accept applications for entry in the Fall semester only. Students who are interested in the REAL Certificate should request an application.
Once we receive this information, the program coordinator will send an application packet to you. Complete application packets must be submitted by December 15th of the year prior to the desired Fall entry date. The Admissions Committee will review applications in January and interviews will be scheduled in February, before a final decision is made. Successful applicants will be informed soon thereafter.