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Think Ahead

Come to one of our information sessions to learn more about Think Ahead!


An exciting opportunity for young adults with intellectual disabilities to get college experience. Applications for the 2024/2025 academic year will open in March.

Develop Job and Life Skills

Think Ahead is a two-year work-readiness program (four 15-week semesters with an 8-week summer session between the first and second year) leading toward earning a certificate at graduation. You can enjoy the experience of going to college while developing job and life skills. You’re a good fit for this program if you are:

  • Willing to engage in work experiences or audit credit-bearing classes, in addition to attending 9 hours of Think Ahead classes a week
  • Seeking skills to prepare for gainful employment
  • Living at home, independently or in a certified setting
  • Able to arrange transportation to DCC’s Poughkeepsie campus
  • Able to cover basic expenses including:
    • Books/supplies
    • Optional commuter meal plan is available at extra cost

What You’ll Need Before You Apply

  • Make sure you meet these requirements before you apply:
  • You’re at least 18 years old and a resident of Dutchess County.
  • You have OPWDD eligibility and will be enrolled in the Home & Community Based Services Medicaid (HCBS) waiver at the time of application.
  • You have a life plan or an Individual Services Plan (ISP) that supports program course/goals.
  • You’ve had a vocational evaluation, like a school to work program or pre-vocational assessment.
  • Ability to be independent on DCC's Poughkeepsie campus with staff present
  • You’ve graduated or have been separated from a secondary school program

How to Apply

  • Go online to Dutchess Community College to complete an application. We anticipate posting the application on March 15, 2024 for the 2024/2025 academic year
  • Send the completed application and supporting documentation via email to Supporting documentation required: 
    • DDP2 form 
    • Current life plan
    • Two letters of recommendation: 
      • One letter from an HCBS provider (i.e.; agency service provider) 
  • Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted by April 19, 2024. Applications submitted after this date will be reviewed only if seats remain at the conclusion of the interview process. 



Applying to the Think Ahead program is a big step, and we know you and your family or service providers will have questions. We’re here to help!

Complete an application, which will be posted on this web page. We anticipate posting the application on March 15, 2023, for the 2023/2024 academic year. Send the completed application and supporting documentation via email to Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted by April 14, 2023. Applications submitted after this date will be reviewed only if seats remain at the conclusion of the interview process.

Completed applications are reviewed by the Think Ahead admissions committee and evaluated for potential success in the program. Potential applicants are then interviewed (family members and/or service providers can accompany them to the interview with the potential student’s consent.) Just 8-10 applicants are selected each academic year.

If you’re selected, we’ll send you an acceptance letter in mid-July. The letters will have information on Orientation Day (required) and first day of classes. Also, you’ll need to follow the DCC Code of Conduct and sign an attendance/conduct contract. If you’re not selected for the Think Ahead program, don’t worry—we can recommend other programs for you, or help prepare you for admission in the future.

You’ll be taking classes at the Poughkeepsie campus, so you’ll either need your own transportation or be willing to use the Dutchess County transit system.


We will pay for your tuition and your classroom supplies. If you plan to audit credit classes, you’ll need to buy or rent textbooks or materials required by faculty. And, you’ll need to provide your own meals—or purchase a meal plan you can use in the dining hall.


Think Ahead classes meet each Monday, Wednesday & Friday from 9 – 12; participation is required to complete the certificate. Activities may continue on campus until 2:00 pending transportation and agency support if needed. Work experiences are unpaid and held on campus for the first year with options for off-campus experiences the second year. An eight-week summer program is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 – 12 during June and July after you complete your first year of the program. You can participate in these activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays: 

  • Get work experience
  • Audit credit courses
  • Be part of campus clubs
  • Use the campus fitness center
  • Use the library & writing center
  • Create connections with college students

Yes! You can ask the Office of Accommodative Services for help if you need special accommodations due to a disability. You can contact DCC Cares if you have a financial or food emergency. And our campus academic support centers can help you with tutoring - online or in person.


  • Daily living skills
  • Job readiness skills for employment
  • Improving communication & interpersonal skills
  • Strengthening basic reading & writing
  • Developing lifelong learning & study skills
  • Stress management
  • Career exploration & internships
  • Vocational development 

You’ll get classroom experience without earning a grade or credit for the course. Think Ahead students are not required to cover the tuition cost for these courses and may enroll in one credit bearing course each semester. Registration is coordinated by the Director of Accommodative Services. 

  • Students auditing a class may purchase the textbook, however this is not required. Textbooks for each course are available in the DCC library.
  • You may take exams and submit assignments for practice and the experience, but this is not required.
  • Students auditing credit courses should be ready to attend the first class when DCC’s credit courses begin, usually a week before the Think Ahead program begins.
  • The Office of Accommodative Services can provide classroom accommodations and assist with assignments.
  • Students opting to audit credit courses should purchase classroom materials required by faculty (art supplies, photo equipment etc.) 

Contact Us

Office of Accommodative Services

301 Orcutt Student Services Center
8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m. Friday

Phone: 845-431-8058

53 Pendell Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601