Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Spring 2020

Thesis Director

Richard L. Roberts

Thesis Committee Member

Heather K. Webb

Thesis Committee Member

Rebecca S. Edgington

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the transitional experiences of undergraduate students with non-disclosed disabilities and gain insight on the intentions of students choosing the route of non-disclosure in higher education. It was found that students with non-disclosed disabilities have significant challenges with managing their workloads and stress in their transition into college. Additionally, changes in support from high school to college have a significant influence on self-disclosure of disabilities. With parental guidance lacking from the participants’ support systems in post-secondary education, it was found that changes in support among the group’s transition into college may be a present factor in the participants’ decision not to disclose their disabilities. It was also found that awareness of negative stigma towards disabilities can influence disclosure and disability identity in students with invisible disabilities. For these reasons, it is important for professionals in higher education to encourage positive conversations about disability and encourage students to disclose disabilities early in their transition.

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