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What College Route to Choose?
1) Go to community college and live at home for the first two years. Then transfer to a public college with her major (probably the one 45 minutes away). 54%  54%  [ 13 ]
2) Go to a public college and live on campus, but be 30 minutes away in the same city as Mom and Dad. This could only last for two years, since they don't have her major. 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
3) Go to a public university and live on campus right away, and be 45 minutes away from home in a different city as Mom and Dad, but at the same school as me for the first year. (After which point I'd graduate and no longer be there with her.) 46%  46%  [ 11 ]
Total votes : 24

BigSister
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31 Jul 2011, 8:57 pm

I'm neither a parent nor am I an Aspie - as the name implies, I'm a big sister, albeit one with lots of motherly protective instincts. My little sister, who has Asperger's, will be going off to college soon and I was wondering if you guys might have advice on what to do? I always thought my sister could go straight off to college and be fine. But this past year, a girl who reminded me an awful lot of my sister (poor social skills and all that) lived next to me in the dorms and I saw how she was treated by the other kids. It was bad. Suffice it to say, the other kids learned never to treat her like that when I was around, but it made me really afraid for my sister when she goes off to college. Plus, with the major she wants (Biology), I'm afraid she'll get really overwhelmed at a public university because I've seen firsthand how intense the course work is. My sister's only big wishes are that she wants to stay relatively close to home (at least in state) and not go into debt (which is why we're not considering private schools). It's always better to have a more well rounded view and even better to have more impartial opinions, so I was wondering what you guys would suggest based on experience? Don't worry - my sister definitely will be making the ultimate decision, but I think getting perspectives from you guys would be really helpful.

Options:
1) Go to community college and live at home for the first two years. Then transfer to a public college with her major (probably the one 45 minutes away).
2) Go to a public university and live on campus, but be 30 minutes away in the same city as Mom and Dad. This could only last for two years, since they don't have her major.
3) Go to a public university and live on campus right away, and be 45 minutes away from home in a different city as Mom and Dad, but at the same school as me for the first year. (After which point I'd graduate and no longer be there with her.)

Personally, I'm caught between 1 and 3, but I included 2 just in case I'm missing something and you guys see it. Option 1 would allow her to ease into the coursework and being a bit more responsible, plus lower her time in the dorms by two years and give her a little more time to work on social skills. Only problem is that she might not make a lot of friends, since she doesn't drive and Mom probably wouldn't take her to hang out with anyone outside of class. Option 2 would be a bit easier coursework than 3, because the overachievers tend to go to 3 and screw up the curve in the science classes. But socially it'd be tricky because she wouldn't have a support network. Mom is busy and probably wouldn't visit all that often (I'd probably be able to visit even less - no car), and Dad would visit a handful of times in the year. Option 3 would be more intense coursework, but while we wouldn't live in the same room, we'd be living in the same general area. I'd be able to look out for her a bit more and help her transition, maybe lower the stress of it. Provide college tips and a year to get comfortable, plus the campus has a counseling center that could help. And at the very least she would have me and my friends to help get her started and comfortable. My biggest concern with this one is that she might mess up her GPA and scholarships right out of the gate in the tougher classes.

I've thought about doing an educational sort of thing on campus too, teaching other students about the autism spectrum and stuff like that. But there's no way I could feasibly prepare a whole public university campus, although I'll probably still do that just because it's the right thing to do.

Advice, opinions, and votes are all helpful. Like I said, she's still ultimately the one making the decision, but I'm sure she'll use it in helping her. (And I'll use it in helping convince my mom, who frighteningly enough is preparing for her to live at home her entire life.)

P.S. I apologize if this section isn't allowed for NTs or something. There's not really a big sister section or anything, and other friends on the spectrum have told me it was okay for me to post here, but just in case it wasn't, sorry!



littlelily613
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31 Jul 2011, 9:27 pm

I picked #3. I don't think our community colleges are like the ones you have there, so I personally wouldn't go with that. But....maybe that would work. How do your colleges work down there? Would the two years go directly toward her major so that she could transfer to university and then graduate with a biology major in another two years? If that is the case, then that might actually work out nicely because she would still be at home for two years to help with the transition.

I am 27, and I wouldn't have been able to move right away. The reason I choose #3 is because I personally would have wanted to go straight to university (but like I said, our community colleges might be different sorts of schools tham yours). If she has to move away, 45 minutes is not much of a difference from 30 minutes. And you would be there for the first year to help her transition into school, to be a support for her as she is becoming accustomed to the people, campus, and new schedule. I think either 1 or 3 would be good. I wouldn't go with 2, but that is just my opinion. It all depends on how prepared she is to move away from home. The challenge may be good for her...or it may not.

Are there any support groups at your university for people with ASDs? It might be helpful for her to be able to get involved in a group right away (either on or off campus) so that she doesn't feel so isolated.


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DarrylZero
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31 Jul 2011, 9:33 pm

I'm inclined to go with option 1 for the reasons you stated. That's similar to the route I took (mine was a bit more convoluted). In addition to the reasons you stated, it will also save you money on tuition/fees. I will say it's important to make sure that there are transfer agreements between the schools so she won't have to repeat any courses at the 4-year school. Since they're both public schools I'd say they're probably regionally accredited, otherwise I'd say to check for that, too.



BigSister
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31 Jul 2011, 9:44 pm

littlelily613: I wish there was a support group on campus, but to my knowledge there isn't one. We actually have a job training program for people on the spectrum on campus, but it's for kids who are much lower functioning than my sister. There's a club for those with disabilities, but it felt more wheelchair sort of disability, and there's an Office of Disabilities, but they mostly do accommodations. I'll check into more as the school year starts back. Good idea, though, and I'll look into it. I'll have to check into the transfer agreements, too. Thanks - you guys are already thinking of things I hadn't even considered. :)



Ancalagon
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31 Jul 2011, 10:17 pm

Is a cheap apartment out of the question financially?

I live alone in one, and it's really nice when I need to get away from people.


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BigSister
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31 Jul 2011, 10:26 pm

It's not out of question financially, but at the public university in question for number 3 freshmen are required to live on campus. There are apartment style dorms on campus, but they're ridiculously expensive, so I don't know if we can make that work. And for option number 2 she'd have to get a car and learn how to drive to an apartment, which I don't see happening for a while...



Cyanide
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01 Aug 2011, 1:01 am

I'd say #1, but I wouldn't recommend anyone to go to college unless they plan to do engineering or medical...



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01 Aug 2011, 4:28 am

I'm a college student doing something similar to option one right now. Here are the very interesting results of that:

I go to a university that does have my major (so four years) and it's about a 45 min drive to and from everyday. Thing is, I can't drive (I'm really really bad at it). My mom has to take me everyday. Which I hate. And even though she's trying to hide it to help me out, she hates it too. It was fun at first, but it got old quickly. I never get to do anyting on campus other than attend class, because I never have a ride to do anything else. That means I don't have any opportunites to make friends. My mom doesn't seem very happy about the beginning of my second year next month and I'm beginning to find it depressing too. I think my mom is also prepairing for me to live at home my entire life (because she thinks I'm just pathetic and lazy... she's gone into denial and doesn't believe that she could've ever possibly had an autistic daughter). That's not what I want, and it seems to be what is happening. I am only almost 19, but I'm not doing as well at this whole life thing as other 19 year olds are...it's getting worse and worse actually.

At least in my case, the results of option one suck.

Option three is the best I think. It will give your sister a chance to get used to a college courseload and to living in a dorm room, either with another person or by herself. And at the two year mark, she won't have to get used to a new campus, new rules, and all new people all over again. You'll also be able to help her out or answer any questions she might have for the first year.

It's good that you're going to let her make the final decision, that's important.

Also, I don't think there are any rules against NT's posting anywhere on this forum. :) At least not that I've heard of. And I think it's awesome that you're trying to help your sister out so much.



SmallFruitSong
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01 Aug 2011, 6:32 am

You should probably take my opinion with a pinch of salt because I'm not American, but I think either option 2 or 3 could be the best for her. I think option 1 might make her a little too dependent on family and may perpetuate the view of your mum that your sister is going to be living at home for the rest of her life.

I think, with a bit of help, perhaps your sister will do well living on campus. I think that sort of experience has the potential of boosting her confidence. I wonder if you can get an Autism organisation to help as well with helping your sister adjust with starting out on campus.

I've found that universities here have various programs for first-years, so I think perhaps your sister involved in some of those programs would also help her.

Personally I've found that first-year courses are not *too* horrible [or perhaps that's just the case in my country], so it would give your sister some time to adjust to the tempo of uni life.


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FlamingYouth
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02 Aug 2011, 5:08 pm

I picked #3. After high school, I just went straight to college and everything was fine. You'll find the most college students are understanding and tolerant of just about anyone. She might have to deal with a few losers her freshman year. But if she has good ignoring skills she'll be okay. I found a great social group within weeks of the time I first enrolled in college, and then I felt right at home there. Everything may seem overwhelming at first, but trust me, she should be able to find a sorority or some group with a good network of friends well before you graduate.

You could help her find a good sorority to join, hopefully one that doesn't haze. If you can find a sorority where most people can tolerate her, befriend her, help her, be there for her, maybe even love her, that would do wonders for her and option 3 would be great.



Dantac
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02 Aug 2011, 5:42 pm

BigSister wrote:
Options:
1) Go to community college and live at home for the first two years. Then transfer to a public college with her major (probably the one 45 minutes away).
2) Go to a public university and live on campus, but be 30 minutes away in the same city as Mom and Dad. This could only last for two years, since they don't have her major.
3) Go to a public university and live on campus right away, and be 45 minutes away from home in a different city as Mom and Dad, but at the same school as me for the first year. (After which point I'd graduate and no longer be there with her.)


My suggestion:

She should start the first year in community college taking all the state-mandated required courses and any electives that will transfer over into her degree at the university. This will not only save you a LOT of money (community college classes are usually half the price of universities) but it also gives her an eased-into experience into higher education.

She would also be living with you guys should she need any help. I believe that if she made it through high school and has taken 1 year of community college she will be ready to live in campus at a university.

As Flamingyouth mentioned, a sorority would also be a great option as they ease a lot of the socializing and studying for new students.. however it will be up to your sister to behave! :P

If you dont mind me asking.. what state are you in?

You also need to look into the university's program too. I learned the hard way that my local university was ranked in the very bottom in the entire US for my major and THAT is quite depressing since the univ. you graduate from does influence your chances for landing a job in that field.



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03 Aug 2011, 6:53 am

BigSister wrote:
It's not out of question financially, but at the public university in question for number 3 freshmen are required to live on campus.


That's not an absolute...especially for "special needs" students. School won't risk litigation to insist on an antiquated policy for someone with a disability.



Rhapsody
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04 Aug 2011, 11:55 am

As a few of the others have stated, number three sounds to be the best option. It requires fewer and less abrupt transitions. The first year is always the most difficult, and having you to pave the way would certainly help your sister out. Also, a suggestion so that she doesn't get overwhelmed her freshmen year with the tougher classes is to take less of them. Have her take the minimum number of hours you can take and still be considered a full time student. I did this when I was a freshman and it really helped me a lot because it gave me extra time to process what was going on with all this new college stuff.

While others have suggested sororities I honestly don't think that's a good idea. You have to be a special sort of person to fit in with a sorority is what I have learned from experience and if you're not that sort of person it will make everything worse. Are there any special interest dorms or learning communities on campus instead? If there aren't, try to find her a dorm that is mostly upper class men because freshmen, drunk with their new found freedom, are overwhelming.

Disability services will be your sisters new best friend at college. Make sure that she knows they are there for her but she has to register with them and she'll need to have an evaluation within a years time of going to the college. DS has saved me on more than one occasion. You are right in that their office deals mostly with accommodation, but when I first went to college and shut down they were able to inform the dorm staff how to deal with me, and they also helped me when I accidentally insulted a professor. Those people can move mountains. Urge her to keep an open communication with them. The better they know her, after all, the more likely they will be willing to go out of their way to help her.



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05 Aug 2011, 7:58 pm

I really wouldn't rule out private schools just yet. What most people don't understand about the financial aspect of private schools is that because they cost more, you get more money. They won't give the same scholarship amount as a public university. When I was just starting to look at schools my parents told me I shouldn't even bother looking at the private ones, but I got my mom to talk to someone in financial aid and now I'm attending a private college :]

Personally, I would vote against the community college. College is a transitional period, and community college just adds one more transition...high school to CC, then CC to a university. I took some classes at a junior (community) college for a year and I was very bored by the coursework.

The best thing she can do is get an actual feel for the schools. Some people do overnight stays in the dorms, that way you get an idea of social life at that particular school. I was nervous about staying overnight at a school I was checking out, staying with a student and all, but I was really glad I did. I sat in on classes at each school I was seriously interested in. Classes at the junior college, a public university, and the private college I go to now are all VERY different. I would say attending classes is the very best thing she could do.

By the way, I'm a young female aspie if that makes any difference. I lived at home and went to junior college for a year, now I'm several hours from home at the private institution. PM if I can be of any help :)


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BigSister
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06 Aug 2011, 1:24 pm

Wow - I really never expected to get this much constructive help...thanks so much! :) To answer your questions and add some things, All of the places in question are in Florida, but I normally live on campus for school so if she opts for option 1 or 2 I wouldn't be with her. The university in #3 does offer living learning communities on campus, such as honors, nursing, environment, etc, and she'd be in one of those or living in the apartment style housing on or off campus. Hope that clarified somewhat. Also, astaut, thanks for the offer of the PM. I told my mom and sister about it and (after explaining to my mom what PM stood for) we may end up taking you up on it sometime in the future.



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06 Aug 2011, 1:43 pm

I would say it's best to start at community college and live at home......I kind of wishe I could have done that, but it did not work out that way I tried just going to a state college and living in the dorms but I really did not enjoy it at all so now I am in community college living at my moms house......though i might be moving out soon, not sure yet.