Milestones Autism Resources

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Home Resources Tool Kits Post-Secondary/College Tool Kit Starting the school year

PART 11. What are tips for college orientation and the beginning of school?

  • Walk around campus learning where things are such as the disability office, campus bookstore and student union. Once you have your courses selected, walk your schedule at least twice before school starts so you are confident about where you are going.
  • Learn what your meal options are in relationship to where your classes and dorm are. If appropriate, which food options are part of your campus meal plan? If you have tight turn around time between classes, ask if there are quick eating options nearby such as a boxed/bagged to-go lunch.
  • Schedule consistent meetings with the disability office to ensure any problems can be handled in a timely fashion.  Begin the first meeting with asking how you will access accommodations for classes and for residential living and activities, if needed.

  • Before you and your parent(s) say goodbye for the semester, visit the disability office and have them sign a consent form to talk to them as your parent(s).

  • Make sure you understand how to access each of your accommodations and whether you need to give each of your professors or teachers official notification from the disability office of them with paper forms or through an online portal.

  • If a roommate is assigned, get to know them and discuss responsibilities and expectations. Try to contact them ahead of school starting.

  • If you are getting a single room as an accommodation, ensure that there are planned ways for you to regularly interact with others so that you don’t end up sitting in your dorm room all semester.

  • Plan on buying or renting each of your textbooks and if available, whether you prefer them in printed vs. e-book version. Some schools offer an accommodation to obtain books in e-version or through adaptive technology, which usually starts with asking your disability services office.

  • Visit each of your professors or teachers during their office hours to introduce yourself briefly and find out a bit about their class and guidelines. Go to office hours whenever you need extra help and before each exam to get advice on how best to study. Ask if there are copies of previous midterms and finals available to give you a feel for what past exams looked like. 

  • Think about your personal needs as you start attending classes, such as wearing comfortable clothes, having a water bottle and snacks, etc.

  • Explore clubs and activities that interest you and other opportunities to socialize in ways that are most comfortable for you. If commuting, try to join one club or group to stay social and active on campus. Some universities have special services for commuting students.

  • Balance time for studying, social activities and quiet time to unwind in addition to your time in classes. Think about what works for your needs and best functioning while meeting your school requirements and goals.

  • Plan your sleep schedule so that you get ideally 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. It can be tempting to stay up late whether studying, socializing or gaming in the college environment, but will you be able to get to your first class on time and function well the next day?

  • Transitioning to college is an exciting, busy time that includes nervousness and anxiety. Learning how to plan your time in what may be the most independent environment you have experienced can be stressful. Take advantage of college counseling and academic supports. Use coping strategies that have comforted and relaxed you in the past. Sensory toys and items like squeeze balls can be helpful. 

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