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Think Ahead

Applications for the 2024/2025 academic year are now closed. Check back in March 2025!

An exciting opportunity for young adults with intellectual disabilities to get college experience.

Develop Job and Life Skills

Think Ahead is a two-year program (four 15-week semesters with an 8-week summer session between the first and second year) leading toward earning a certificate at graduation. Think Ahead is a work readiness training program that prepares people to enter the workforce or supported employment so they can be competitively employed. Think Ahead is offered through collaboration with Abilities First Inc, ARC Greater Hudson Valley, Dutchess Community College, the Dutchess County Executive’s ThinkDIFFERENTLY initiative, Maplebrook School and Taconic Resources for Independence.

. 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

Admission Requirements

  • Be at least 18 years old and a resident of Dutchess County
  • Have a Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) wavier eligible at time of admission to the program; these funds provide access to Community Prevocational staff who accompany students on campus
  • Have a life plan or Individual Educational Plan (IEP) with goals that support job readiness skill building and vocational aspirations
  • Have a vocational evaluation such as school to work program or pre-vocational assessment
  •  Independent on DCC’s Poughkeepsie campus with staff present
  • Graduated, or separated from secondary school program

How to Apply

  • Send the completed application (when available in March 2025) 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) 
      • One letter from an employer volunteer supervisor, job coach or teacher (specific to work ethic)



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!

  • Get an application (when applications open in March 2025) for the 2025/2026 academic year.
  • Send the completed application and supporting documentation via email to
  • Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted by the stated deadline on the application. Applications submitted after this date will be reviewed only if seats remain at the conclusion of the interview process.

  • Completed applications will be reviewed by the Think Ahead admission committee and evaluated for potential success in the Think Ahead program.
  • Supported applications will be selected and interviews will be held some time in late April or early May, 2025.
  • Students will interview with the Think Ahead selection committee.
  • Family members and/or service providers can join applicant interviews after their initial meeting with the consent of the potential student.

  • Selected students will receive their acceptance letter on or about June 1, 2025.
  • Acceptance letters will have information on the required Orientation Day and first day of classes.
  • Students must accept the DCC code of conduct and sign an attendance/conduct contract.

No - students must have access to transportation, or be able or willing to learn to use the Dutchess County Transit system, or discuss transportation options with agency that supports you.


  • DCC currently provides classroom supplies
  • Computers are available for student use on campus, participants should anticipate having access to internet services, and a tablet or laptop for use at home. Electronic devices may be available through DCC on a limited basis
  • Participants should provide their own meals, or meal plans plans can be purchased for use at the Dining Hall;
  • Participants should provide their personal supplies such as binders and pens.

Not at this time.

Class is held M/W/F from 9 am – 12 pm and is required to complete the certificate. Activities may continue on campus until 2:00 p.m. 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 8-week summer program is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 – 12 during the months of June and July for students after they complete their first year of the program. 

Students are supported during the day by staff from Abilities First and the ARC Greater Hudson Valley. Students will be enrolled in their Community Prevocational programs 5 days a week upon acceptance to Think Ahead.


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.


The Monday/Wednesday/Friday component of the program includes:

  • 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 

The Tuesday/Thursday sessions enable them to work with coaches directly. It is an opportunity to build research, writing and presentation skills that will enable them to strengthen their confidence and work independently. 

Activities on T/Th from 9 – 2 that are offered: 

  • Work experience
  •  Audit credit bearing courses
  • Campus clubs
  • Campus fitness center
  • Library & Writing Center
  • Create connections with college students

It is important that students participate in the lunch program at the end of each session. It is an opportunity for them to strengthen social and relationship skills that will help them in the workplace.

A course audit allows a student to participate in a classroom experience without earning a grade or credit for the course. Students should expect to audit a 100-level course, pending available seats and faculty approval of audit requests. 

Think Ahead students are not required to cover the tuition cost for these courses, and may enroll in one credit bearing course each semester if seats are available on the first day of the semester. Registration is facilitated by the Director of Accommodative Services.

Think of this as an observation of the class, students are not required to meet all assignment deadlines, complete assignments or take exams. They may do so however but will be ungraded. 

  • Students auditing a class may purchase the text book, however this is not required. Textbooks for each course are available in the DCC Library.
  • Students may take exams and submit assignments for practice and the experience, this is not required.
  • Students auditing credit courses should be ready to attend the first class when the credit bearing courses begin, usually a week before the Think Ahead program begins.
  • The Office of Accommodative Services is available to provide classroom accommodations and assist with assignments.

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