Smart Start is a 2-day pre-orientation program for incoming students and their families registered with DSS. Smart Start is designed to aid students in making a smooth transition to CUA. Smart Start shows students how to work with DSS, introduces skills necessary for success at CUA, helps with the transition to CUA, and allows students to meet peers, upperclassmen, and DSS staff. We discuss important academic and personal skills that will help students succeed in college. Additionally, students who attend Smart Start are able to move into the dorms 2 days early. 

Smart Start Highlights: 

  • Move in early
  • Meet peers and upperclassmen registered with DSS
  • Intro to how to work with DSS
  • Meet DSS staff
  • Find support offices on campus
  • Learn how to use assistive technology (ex. SmartPen; Sonocent)
  • Discuss the transition to CUA
  • Intro to tips and skills to succeed at CUA

Smart Start 2020 

Join DSS for a fun and informative day of academic and organizational skills workshops, social events, and meet and greets with DSS staff and CU faculty. We want you to make the most out of your time here at Catholic University so let DSS help you get started on the right foot!

Who can attend? Smart Start is open to any incoming first year or transfer student who has a documented disability. Parents or guardians of new students are welcome to attend along with the student. 

What to expect? Smart Start is a two-day orientation program designed to aid students in making a smooth transition to Catholic University. We discuss important academic and personal skills that will help you succeed in here at Catholic University. We will explore topics such as:

  • Effectively transitioning to Catholic University
  • Self-advocacy and communicating with faculty and family
  • Understanding academic accommodations at the university level
  • Learning academic and organizational skills that are essential for the successful college student
  • Accessing academic resources and support services
  • Introduction to assistive technology and alternative format options

When? Tuesday August 25 and Wednesday August 26, 2020

Detailed schedule from 2019. Detailed schedule for Smart Start 2020 coming soon.

Why attend? Making the transition from high school to college involves many new challenges and success can often depends on a student’s ability to advocate for themselves. At Smart Start you will learn how to advocate for your own unique needs, gain knowledge about campus resources, and become familiar with the policies and procedures related to accessing accommodations. It is also an opportunity to meet first year and current students.

Application Information: Space is limited. Applications and documentation will be reviewed in the order in which they are received. Acceptance into the program will be completed on a rolling basis once file is complete. Applications will be accepted until Sunday, August 9, 2020. Applications received after August 9, 2020 will be accepted on an availability basis.  

The application is available here: Smart Start Application 2020

There is no fee for Smart Start.

Please email us at at least one week prior to the event to request accommodations. In all situations, a good faith effort (up until the time of the event) will be made to provide accommodations.

If you have questions, please call the office at (202) 319-5211 or email us at