Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Scholars with Diverse Abilities Program (SDAP)?

SDAP provides students (Scholars) with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities access to a 2-year inclusive college educational experience. When the Scholars complete the program, they receive a Collegiate Achievement Award. We work with the Scholars on whole person development: academic, social, personal, and career goals.

To learn more about college as an option for students with intellectual disabilites, visit Think College

What type of supports does SDAP provide for students with intellectual disabilities?

We provide Natural, Academic and Paid Supports. Natural supports are volunteer peer supports for in class, social and recreational activities. Academic tutor supports work with scholars individually and in groups on class work and other skills. We also have additional paid supports who consist of the SDAP graduate student staff, tutors and College Life Fellows are available to offer extra support during evenings, weekends and days as needed.

What about Health, Wellness, & Safety?

Beyond what is provided by the SDAP support staff, Appalachian’s highest priority for all students is their safety and security.

M.S. Shook Student Health Service is a primary care ambulatory campus health clinic committed to meeting the health needs of Appalachian State University students. The center is fully accredited by Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care.

The Wellness Center and Student Recreation Programs are additional services where students can access information about wellness and take part in fitness classes, intramural sports and gym activities.

The University Police Department provides 24/7 security. Access to campus residence halls is restricted and controlled twenty-four (24) hours a day by a card access system. We also have a free campus escort service, Mountaineer Safe Ride, operated by the Parking and Traffic Department.

All of these supports are designed to make our students safe and successful during their college experience.

Does SDAP provide housing?

Scholars have the option of living on campus in a residence hall. Off campus options are allowed but must be arranged by the family.

How much does it cost to participate in the SDA Program?

Currently students pay regular tuition and fees. Due to the amount of supports we provide our students, we also ask our scholars to pay an additional $1000 per semester to cover some of these costs. This covers approximately 30 hours a week of support.

How will I pay for college?

Accepted participants will be eligible to apply for financial aid through Appalachian's Office of Student Financial Aid and can apply though FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). SDAP offers some small scholarships for students based on merit and need. Other resources that you might find helpful can be found at

What is the curriculum?

Each scholar designs his/her own schedule based on career and personal goals just like traditional degree seeking students. That means that we do not have a set curriculum. We do provide each scholar with a basic skills class to further support independent living skills. This class meets for approximately 3 hours per week. During this class scholars will learn how to navigate campus, use the AppalCART bus system, budget their money, and develop career skills.

What courses do Scholars take?

Scholars may take any courses of interest to them, with instructor approval. Our Scholars have  taken courses in  almost every discipline on campus: child and family studies, business, marketing, tourism, music, nutrition, recreation, athletic training, dance, art, theater, and criminal justice. We work with each student to design an individualized  course of study for the 2-year program.

Do you offer employment options?

Yes! Currently, Scholars are out working in the community at places such as: a local veterinarian’s office, hair salon, café, and public library. On campus jobs and internship placements include the student union, multicultural student development and the university library.

Program staff assist all scholars in finding internships and employment. Scholars from North Carolina can work with vocational rehabilitation services.  Providers such as Watauga Opportunities, also assist through their supported employment services.

How do I apply?

Please see our program website tab 'Apply' where you will find a page dedicated to applying to SDAP. Applications are due December 1 to be considered for admission for fall semester of the following year.

Is there a summer school option?

No, SDAP runs from August to May. We do provide summer orientation prior to the scholars' first year of school.

How can I prepare myself to go to college?

Tell your family and teachers that you want to be challenged!

Preparation for college is an important aspect of becoming a successful college student. This may mean that you need to advocate for yourself while you are in high school. If your high school teachers and transition coordinators know that you have a goal for college, they can support you by developing an appropriate transition plan.

It is also important to begin developing your independent living skills such as taking care of personal needs, practicing study skills, and thinking about your career and personal goals.

Will I get a diploma when I am finished?

Scholars enrolled at ASU through the SDA Program will receive a Collegiate Achievement Award upon satisfactory completion of their 2-year program.

What do Scholars do once they graduate?

SDAP graduates have gone on to secure employment in fields such as the arts, cosmetology, athletics, assisted living and an after school program.

Is there public transportation?

AppalCART is the transportation authority that provides public transportation for all of Boone and Watauga County, including Appalachian State University and is free of charge.   There are also several independently operated bus systems that run from Boone to the larger metropolitan areas.

What do students do for fun?

Appalachian provides an inclusive environment that supports your growth as a scholar and community member. On campus there are more than 300 student clubs and organizations for all interests, from social justice to Quidditch. Scholars also have opportunity to attend numerous athletics, arts, and music events.  Boone’s beautiful and scenic setting also allows for a variety of off-campus and outdoor activities from hiking to snowboarding.

Can I visit SDAP?

Yes! We invite you to join us at Open House in Fall and Spring. Those dates can be found at admissions website. You can also visit us anytime by making an appointment. Contact us at or by calling 828.262.8389