In Case You Missed It: Click here to watch videos from SmartStart 2020 and learn more about Disability Support Services, the transition from highschool to college, and life as a college student with disabilities. 

Smart Start is a two-day orientation program hosted by The Office of Disability Support Services for any incoming students with a documented disability. The purpose of the program is to prepare students and their families for the transition to university life by introducing various academic, social, and other campus resources and personnel.

Throughout the event, new students will meet and get to know other new and returning students, as well as many Catholic University faculty and staff members. There will be sessions on Housing, Dining, Counseling, Tutoring, and working with faculty members. Students can also attend workshops on a variety of topics, including developing self-advocacy skills, understanding academic accommodations, and using assistive technology. Additionally, students participating in Smart Start will be able to move into their residence halls two 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 

Please join DSS staff for Smart Start 2020, which will take place on August 18th and 19th 2020. In order to ensure the safety of all participants, Smart Start 2020 sessions will be held virtually, but students will still be able to move in early.

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


  • Early Move-In  to Residence Halls on Tuesday, August 18th
  • Smart Start Virtual Sessions Day on Wednesday, August 19th

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.

Registration Information: Registration will be accepted until Sunday, August 9, 2020. Registration requests 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. Please be specific in your accommodations needs, either for the virtual medium or related to your move-in.

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