Planning and Preparing for College
Also see: Entrance Exam Tips | Tips for Success
Preparing for the transition to college starts by eighth grade with a gradual process of learning academic, social and life skills throughout the high school years. Your transition planning should be focused on self-advocacy, self-care, exploring interests, executive functioning skills and time management. If you think your child will be living at college, work on being able to stay away from home and on the appropriate independent living skills to be successful.
By junior year of high school, start planning which setting, supports and goals best serve your teen’s needs based on their functioning, interests and goals. Different four year colleges and community colleges offer varying types of supports for students with disabilities. Your teen’s therapists, high school guidance counselor and interventionists can help with your unique situation.
Once your student is admitted to college, you’ll want to register with their disability office and review accommodations they will provide.
The Milestones Helpdesk can connect you with resources and you may find family consultations with a Milestones autism specialist helpful to make a plan for your student.
This downloadable handout Preparing for the Transition to College includes tips for 8th - 12th grades from Aaron and Lisa Danielpour based on Aaron’s transition to college.
Top Five Tips for Preparing for College Entrance Exams
By Lucas Estafanous
1. Know Exactly What Your Accomodations Are.
- Talk to your guidance counselor or transition counselor at your high school. for information about acquiring accommodations for college entrance exams.
- Be aware of what the test setting will be – either alone with a proctor or in a room of other students with a proctor. Review how to appropriately behave for the test setting. For example, these are the rules for the ACT test.
- Take sample tests, pretending as if it is the real test (set up simulation if possible). Register for a Pre-ACT or PSAT test for practice.
2. Develop Good Study Habits
- Plan a schedule for studying, giving yourself plenty of time to cover all of the material. An appropriate schedule could take weeks or even months, depending on your study habits.
- Start reviewing parts of your study material in small doses. As you complete a section, review it - then move on to another small section. After you complete going over each small section, go back to the beginning and review everything you have reviewed.
- Allow brain breaks for yourself. Don’t expect to learn everything in one sitting.
3. Make Sensory Connections to Material
How am I going to remember this? What tricks can I use to help me?
- Visual/auditory stimuli (creating pictures, a song, or a comic strip are some suggestions)
- Writing/drawing material out by hand (making flashcards is a great solution)
4. Don't Study Alone
- Get someone else to guide you and keep you focused on studying (preferably an adult).
- Have conversations with that person about the topic. Use memories of those conversations to reinforce material.
- Ask for help on things you don’t understand.
5. Prepare for Test Day
- Get a good night’s sleep before the test, and come prepared with the necessary supplies.
- Do not spend too much time stuck on one question. Move on and if you have time you can go back later.
- Do not rush. Read each question fully at least twice before moving on.
Lucas Estafanous is a self-advocate, former Milestones Intern and graduate of Orange High School, and a former student at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.
How to Prepare for Admission Tests
Taking College Entrance Exams
The Steps to Receive Test Accommodations – SAT
Tips to Succeed Freshman Year of College
By Noam Gelles
Top 2 Lessons I Learned
- Time management.
- Stay above the drama.
Here are the details
- Don’t procrastinate – do things as soon as they are assigned.
- Work with others.
- Go to office hours – professors are willing to help.
- Don’t let what others are doing affect you – don’t copy.
- Set multiple alarms.
- Don’t worship the snooze button.
- Meet a friend who likes to get up early for breakfast.
- Stay positive – if you’re not doing well in school, it doesn’t mean you can’t turn it around.
- Get tutors – they will save you.
- Don’t cram for tests. Study with others in the class. Ask others who took the test about what’s on it.
- If you need student services, don’t be afraid to use them.
- Don’t be afraid to go to counseling – it will help!
- Make friends, for the love of God!
- Don’t let the time your friends go to bed dictate the time you go to bed.
- Stay true to yourself.
- There will be alcohol – nothing you can do about it. People will get drunk and do stupid things.
- People will get high and do stupid things. Avoid it!
- Don’t be afraid to try new things, like new food and activities.
- If you have a problem with your roommate, suite mate or anyone, talk to them about it. Don’t let it tear you to shreds. Tell them “Stop – I don’t like it.”
- Give people space – if they don’t want to be around you at the moment, give them time. Don’t force yourself on them.
- Don’t act like you are desperate to have friends. If you are hanging out by yourself it’s not the end of the world – it might even be a good thing.
- Be nice – people will remember you for it.
- Talk to RAs (Resident Assistants) – they can help.
Noam Gelles, son of Milestones Autism Resources Operations Director Mia Buchwald Gelles, earned a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology: Network Administration from Alfred State College. He came up with this list while driving home for winter break during his freshman year.