Students with ASD:
Use These Seven Tips to Succeed in College

Like the colors in the light spectrum, every person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is unique. When planning your college curriculum and setting personal education goals, it is vital that you consider where you fall on the autism disorder spectrum. Through careful consideration of your individual strengths, you will have a far greater likelihood of success.

When considering the light spectrum, no color is "better" than another, but some colors are better suited to a given purpose. For example, a bright red fire engine makes more sense than a black one.

Knowing your strengths in regard to the Autism spectrum will help you find your own groove. Use these tips to make the most of your strengths to succeed in college by revealing a path that makes the most of your abilities.

1) Understand How Your Strengths Relate to Your Potential Career Path – This can be challenging at first, but if you understand the requirements involved with certain career paths, it will be easier to determine if a certain field suits your individual strengths. You might be a creative person that will find fulfillment in the arts, or you may be good with numbers and memory, making lab work a viable option.

It's never too early to think about your future, your dreams, and how they relate to your unique skill set. Focus your college education on honing skills that prepare you for the rest of your life and help guide you toward a successful future. Still, no matter how well you understand your own strengths, sometimes you can benefit from a little help planning your future.

2) Take Advantage of Your Advisor's Knowledge – Your advisor can help you better determine what fields of study could help you hone your skills and align them with a career path suited to your interests. If you've done career testing, share the results with your advisor so that they have more information with which to help you.

Take a College 101 course or talk with a career counselor as soon as possible, to get additional direction with courses, extracurricular activities, volunteer, and internship possibilities.

3) Identify Your Strengths and Acknowledge Your Limitations – Whether you have ASD or not, it's important to accept the fact that the career you want may not be possible because of your own limitations. You can only come to a full understanding of your own strengths if you acknowledge your shortcomings. Eighteen-time gold-medal Olympian Michal Phelps tried other sports before he began swimming. By playing to his strengths Phelps became one of the world's top swimmers.

4) Seek Out Extracurricular Activities with People who Share Your Interests – If you are one of the many students with ASD who finds socializing challenging, this suggestion might be especially difficult. However, surrounding yourself with like-minded people can be a huge benefit. Focus on finding activities that you enjoy and the rewards will be many.

5) Talk to Your Professors about Your ASD – Your professors want you to succeed, so talk to them about your ASD strengths and weaknesses when classes begin. And remember that if you need help, all you have to do is ask – your professor will appreciate your candor and your initiative.

6) Keep the Lines of Communication Open with Your Counselor – Some days are better than others for everyone. If your problems seem insurmountable at times speak with your counselor or coach. They are there to support you in working through them.

7) Show Up for Class – While your professors will do everything they can to assist you, if you fail to show up for class you will limit your success and make it harder to do your best.

Your success in college will ultimately be up to you. You can increase your success by surrounding yourself with professionals who have your best interests at heart and will support you in achieving your goals. By focusing on your strengths, and planning accordingly, you will be able to navigate the rough currents of college and plot a course for a rewarding future.

If have ASD, are or will soon be a high school graduate, and are interested in attending Seattle Central College discover how the SAILS program can help you reach your goals in college and beyond.

"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid"
~ Albert Einstein


"Autists are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg."
~ Paul Collins