Cliff Diving Into College
When I was going through high school, my most important goal was to graduate from high school while getting good grades. Schoolwork was my total focus since I had to work really hard to be successful. I had a lot of support and help in being successful because I have several learning disabilities in addition to the fact that I’m on the Autism Spectrum. When I graduated, I was so relieved and grateful just to be finished with that part of my life. I had just finished the race of high school but a whole new set of challenges stood before me.
While I was relieved about finishing high school, I had high anxiety about starting college. Would I be able to keep up academically? Would I have the learning supports I needed to achieve? I didn’t know. Would I be able to make friends or would I be on the outside looking in? I knew that I had to be more independent than I had been when I was in high school. In some ways, you leave your parents’ support, care, and control at home when you go to college and move towards independence. In fact, most colleges actively discourage parents from interceding on behalf of their adult children. Your professors want to communicate directly with you regarding your performance so it is helpful to not have your mother present!
As in most new endeavors, a lot of careful planning and research by myself and my family had gone into my next step which was college. The college we chose had a good learning support staff, easy commute, and it was affordable. I was able to live at home and have the “behind the scenes” support of my parents, while at the same time, I did not have to deal with the anxiety of dorm dramas. I was worried about fitting in with the other college students since I had a lot of experience being teased and not fitting in. College was different since the other students seemed less judgmental and you could just be yourself. It was amazing how much more enjoyable it was to be with other students who wanted to be in school. I loved the fact that I got to choose my own schedule, including what classes I took and to a certain extent, what time I took them. I had more freedom, and I used that freedom to spend time with like-minded students.
Before I started each semester, I made sure that I wrote a letter to the teacher explaining my needs for accommodations in terms that they could understand. I also met with each teacher so that they could put a face to a name as they may be more likely to help me if they were familiar with me and realized I was a dedicated student. While this may be intimidating and uncomfortable, in my case, it always seemed to help strengthen my connection with each teacher and establish a good working relationship.
During this time of transition between high school and college, I found the strategies above helpful in making me feel more secure and successful. While this period of transition can be incredibly stressful, preparation, hard work, and a good support team can increase your chances of success during this time.