This Isn't High School -
Discover the Secrets to Surviving
and Thriving in College with ASD

The changes a student experiences transitioning from high school to college are dramatic. For persons with ADS including Asperger Syndrome, the unique challenges require a more individualized approach.

Ultimately, your ability to succeed will depend largely on you. Many freshmen struggle when suddenly faced with the responsibilities of college life without the support system they had in high school. These problems can be exacerbated if the student is attending college away from home, and is living on their own for the first time in their life.

In many ways, the secrets to surviving and thriving in school aren't that different for persons with or without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but preparation is one key area where those with ASD must focus their energies before their first day as a freshman college student.

Preparation begins when you first consider the career path you would like to follow, and which school might be best suited to helping you achieve your goals. The following secrets can help you get started on a rewarding and productive college experience, and a fruitful future that goes far beyond your graduation day.

Look for Schools that Cater to Your Unique Needs and Can Help you Realize Your Potential
This is something every college student should do. For students with ASD it is especially important to seek out a college environment that can help you overcome challenges unique to those with ASD.

More and more schools, including Seattle Central College (formerly Seattle Central Community College), offer specialized programs, like SAILS College 101 for students with ASD. While these schools may not be a perfect fit for everyone with ASD, they offer specialized, customized support that makes it easier for students to thrive in the college environment and ultimately achieve greater success.

Develop a Strong Support System
One of the most challenging aspects of making the leap from high school graduate to college freshman is the absence of an established routine and support system in college. College will require developing new routines. Developing a fresh support system is a key that will help you not only survive but thrive in college.

Before you arrive on campus, obtain certification of your ASD from your doctor. This documentation will allow you to take advantage of disability support services available on campus. As you introduce yourself into the college environment it is often beneficial to explain your disability to those that are in a position to help, such as professors and counselors.

Locate the disability support services on campus when you first enroll. They can assist you with necessary accommodations to maximize your class performance. Talk to a career counselor who will help you ascertain your strengths so that you can choose a career path that focuses on your natural abilities and gifts. Take advantage of your advisor's knowledge and experience to help you navigate your college path.

It's a good idea to have the number of your personal counselor handy for those days that aren't as good as the rest. Working with a counselor on campus can be of great benefit, because they will likely have experience with other students who have autism.

Lastly, try to surround yourself with like-minded fellow students possessing similar interests and hobbies. You can do this by seeking out clubs or groups on campus that appeal to your artistic or educational curiosity.

Take a Tour of the Campus
Familiarizing yourself with the campus will go a long way toward helping you feel comfortable navigating to classes, the library, cafeteria, and more. In fact, the more familiar you are with your campus' centers of activity, the better off you'll be in the long run.

Develop and Hone your Study Skills
How you learn is just as important as going to class; your study habits will have a lot to do with your overall success. There are numerous ways for persons with ASD to develop personalized study habits, but it's vital that you find what works best for you and stick with it.

Follow a Path that Feels Rewarding
College is hard work and it should also be rewarding. You are working toward a bright future, developing knowledge and life-skills that will help you succeed in life. Take time to discover what your strengths are, and then explore career options that make the most of your unique personality. When you take classes that are geared around your interests, forging a career-path will lead to rich personal rewards and satisfaction.

Becoming a college freshman is like taking first steps as a child. It can be a little rocky at first, but once you can get one foot out in front of the other you soon find it isn't so hard. If you carefully manage your first few steps as a college freshman, you will be better equipped to take the remainder of your college years in stride. And, use these same strategies to thrive in your career and personal life.

If you are considering attending college in Seattle, Washington, consider Seattle Central College. Seattle Central's SAILS program supports students in all of the ways suggested above and many more. It is specially designed for Seattle Central freshmen with ASD to thrive in college, in their career and life.

Preparation is one key area where students with ASD must focus their energies before their first day as a freshman college student.