What is college and university like for Aspies??

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LittleSwallow
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02 Nov 2011, 5:50 am

It's is my last year of school, and I would be glad to see the back of the place, I just really hope college would be the only happy educational experience that I have. (ex. making close friends this time round rather than friends you mostly see at school and also having a lot of frenemies. ;/)



Dingus
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02 Nov 2011, 8:37 am

I wish I could give you a good answer.
I didn't finish high-school.
In year 10 I dropped out half way. The next year I sat a test
and got put in year 11 with some year 12 classes and soon
dropped out again. So really all I ever completed was year 9!
I've started a few short courses too, but never completed
them. From horticulture to film/television/radio.

Good luck!



zer0netgain
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02 Nov 2011, 8:53 am

In a word...deceptive.

If you're good at academics, you may do well in grades, but the important stuff that will get you ahead in life, you'll likely learn little to nothing.

Socially, it can be lonely. My college years were pretty good because I met a guy my first day and we became best friends (still on good terms). We did a lot together. Absent that, I probably would not have had any friends in college. Graduate school was somewhat similar.

As a loner, I didn't realize how this was a bad thing until it was too late.



BasalShellMutualism
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03 Nov 2011, 11:06 pm

zer0netgain wrote:
In a word...deceptive.

If you're good at academics, you may do well in grades, but the important stuff that will get you ahead in life, you'll likely learn little to nothing.

Socially, it can be lonely. My college years were pretty good because I met a guy my first day and we became best friends (still on good terms). We did a lot together. Absent that, I probably would not have had any friends in college. Graduate school was somewhat similar.

As a loner, I didn't realize how this was a bad thing until it was too late.



I second, third and fourth this. I went back over 10 years later for my second bachelors and I did well with grades but because I didn't mesh with peer groups I lost out on networking and really allowing professors to know me as a person.

You gain coping skills as you get older, but you need it because it gets harder and lonelier when you get older if you don't have a support group outside family.



Infoseeker
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06 Nov 2011, 7:00 am

zer0netgain wrote:
In a word...deceptive.

If you're good at academics, you may do well in grades, but the important stuff that will get you ahead in life, you'll likely learn little to nothing.

Socially, it can be lonely. My college years were pretty good because I met a guy my first day and we became best friends (still on good terms). We did a lot together. Absent that, I probably would not have had any friends in college. Graduate school was somewhat similar.

As a loner, I didn't realize how this was a bad thing until it was too late.


^ agreed. Try to avoid being a commuter student to help ease the above quote. If you can be on campus and actually go to events/ group-activity clubs you will make friends. If you do the same as a commuting student it becomes x1000 harder to get close friends; you will just be everyone's smiling acquaintance instead of their friend.


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06 Nov 2011, 11:09 am

It was tough transitioning from 4 years in highschool to a 1 year college to a 4 year University.

Sadly, most autistic students either drop out or don't even apply to college because they have difficulty with such tasks as doing all the paperwork, time management, taking notes and sitting for exams. Most students with Autism spectrum disorders need clear, systematic organizational strategies for academic work and most likely for all other aspects of daily living. Calendars, checklists and other visual strategies for organizing activities should be developed with the student.

The reason why I succeeded in college was because of my case manager and community support from school by writing a letter to relevant professors/staff/peers indicating that a student has a disability and may need special accommodations and we have to follow up with the professor and request specific help via IEP .

What to ask for:

1. So they made accommodations because I needed a little longer to process information and organize responses ,
2. they modified the curriculum to have enough interests for myself ,
3. the setting was small for a quieter - less rambunctious/distracting environment that harms sensory issues ,
4. the cost was affordable through student loans ,
5. highly structured ,
6. included flexibility in the time needed that require abstract verbal reasoning, flexible problem solving, extensive writing, or social reasoning. ,
7. support for individual needs ,
8. centralized counseling center.
9. help guide the student to a curriculum that will capitalize on his or her strengths and interests.
10. relaxed class load
11. a single room / a sanctuary where they can control their environment, focus on their work and daily activities without distraction, and not be forced to engage in social interaction all the time because a roommate is highly stressful.
12. Interest based social connections , all campuses have one
13. Mentor or advisor / at least a service organization.


A Few Resources

There are brief discussions of college-related topics in Liane Willey's book, Pretending to be Normal, and in A Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome & High-Functioning Autism, by Sally Ozonoff, Geraldine Dawson, and James McPartland.

Aquamarine Blue 5: Personal Stories of College Students with Autism, edited by Dawn Prince-Hughes, has 12 essays and an appendix of tips. A recent addition is Succeeding in College with Asperger Syndrome: A Student Guide, by John Harpur, Maria Lawlor, and Michael Fitzgerald.

Eric Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education, One of their many useful articles, ERIC EC Digest #E620, is "Selecting a College for Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)."

Succeeding in College With Asperger Syndrome

by John Harpur, Maria Lawlor, Michael Fitzgerald

A web site from the United Kingdom, University Students with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome, has many helpful links and some interesting articles by university students with Autism spectrum disorders.

North Carolina State University has a useful guide on transitioning from high school to college on their web site. Edmonds Community College and the University of Washington Autism Center.



isacult
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06 Nov 2011, 3:52 pm

I would say that it makes you look at the world entirely differently than you previously saw it.

I am a freshman, Computer Science major, and I loved the first month of college.
I actually tried, and I cared about attending class, although incredibly difficult for me to pay attention in most classes that didn't deal with mathematics, or programming.

The second month was the most depressing time in my life, and I contemplated suicide frequently, and even half-assed an attempt on one very bad day. Everything caught up to me then, and the only subject I attempted to do well in was programming class. I have been coding since I was 14, and the introductory classes, although I placed out of the first class already, were, well..unsatisfying for my coding needs.
I tried to hide my depression in drugs, and this intensified it greatly.(Don't hide from problems with drugs!)

I am focused on finishing this semester with all hours I can get, and cutting my losses. Next semester I have planned to do differently, and learn in my own way. The university's method of teaching simply doesn't appeal to or work for my needs. I scraped by in high-school by these methods, but I wasn't aware of my condition, and excelled.

On a positive side, it has awakened my obvious Asperger's, as well as my roommate(friends since sophomore year in high-school) who displays the very same traits I do. The social awkwardness from high-school is now explained, and I have noticed how I have worked through that to at least appear normal to others.

Socialization has been great for coping with the stress. Please make many friends, or else the loneliness will be crushing. I was usually reclusive as a child, and teenager, and now when I am alone, I am scared. I need my friends to function at my normal capacity, otherwise I would go insane. Many of my friends from high-school came with me to UNCC, and they mesh well with the friends I have made across campus, and are the only reason I am around to write this reply.

TL; DR => It's going to be tough. Find friends and treat them well, be social even if it hurts or doesn't seem appealing, and find your magic in classes early. Dropping out is also the worst decision one could make. It will get better, just bear the storm called freshman year.



Pandora_Box
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07 Nov 2011, 5:50 am

I have been in college for about 2 years now. Trying to get my associates. And to be honest I'm struggling a great deal. I even dropped a few classes this November. It's to much stress for through the commute there. It's to much stress in the classroom. I'm the type of person who craves mental stimulation. Sitting in a classroom for 4hrs listening to someone talk is not ideal for me. I like class discussions. I like to stimulate my brain with challengening information. A lot of what is in college is old information, it's basically what you learned in elementary, middle school, and high school all wrapped into one little present.

I'm generally not accepted in the college either for my "frank" and "controversial" topics. Most of the grades I have ever gotten in college were more personal than they were ever based on my own skill level. I honestely had a teacher write on my essay paper, as much as I appreciate your opinion this isn't what the asisgnment was about. Which is b.s. she just wanted someone to stroke her pride. Our last essay for our HCD course was to write about what we learned or didn't learn in the class. I took a twist and didn't go completely that I didn't learn, I said the course was a refresher course.

All the students who announced what they learned got a good grade. And I got a bad grade on my essay for not kissing her ass.

I'm fighting my hardest to stay in college. But with current personal problems and on top college. I'm tired. Stressed out. And I'm completely just with little to no energy.

I see the importance of knowledge, absolutely everyone should have knowledge. It's a good thing to learn. However, if what they are teaching is stuff that I already know then I am not really getting any knowledge nor learning anything. All I am doing is vomiting information and repeating it back like some organic robot.



Cyanide
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07 Nov 2011, 6:08 am

In my experience, it was just like high school. The only difference was that there were a lot more people, and I had to pay thousands of dollars per year for the "privilege" of going there. In other words, an absolute waste.



umfum
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07 Nov 2011, 11:44 am

I live on campus. It didn't occur to me until the other day how isolated I am. I've made a few smiling acquaintances as above, but that's about it. No, that is it. lol. The worst part about university for me is the expectation that you can express yourself and your ideas out loud. In school I never contributed to class discussions and didn't even have to make speeches. So I have no experience in this and consistently come across like an absolute iaejrieajriea moron. Otherwise, all I have to say is meh.



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07 Nov 2011, 12:42 pm

I'm at college and I find it s**t. Less s**t than school, but still s**t. Can't wait for university, at least by that stage I'll be independent and own a car, so I can go out and meet people aside from the ones I happen to be in education with.



monkees4va
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08 Nov 2011, 10:35 am

University was for me a positive experience. All the students were more friendly and accepting and there was much less pressure. The shorter timetable meant for me I could have plenty of time for both studying and socialisation (or attempted socialisation). I even went on a night out with my class and loved every second, normally that large a group of people made everything very hard to enjoy. Plus with a much larger campus full of intellegent people it was fun. I met a couple of fellow aspies which I still talk too today


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hockeytaz
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10 Nov 2011, 3:33 am

I detest lower level classes at college because people aren't in their major yet and really do not care. Once you live through that, it gets better. I'm in organic chemistry, which is my speciality, and I LOVE it. I also have a very awesome professor that is a lot like me in many ways and really understands me, probably better than I understand myself. He knows how to push me and get the best from me without over-stressing me. His style, the POGIL (process oriented guided inquiry learning, yes I do know that acronym from memory, don't ask me why. My prof said it once and it's been stuck in my head ever since). It's basically guided exercises that you work through in a small group facilitated by the instructor. This year I have lab with my favorite professor and he is very relaxed and treats us like adults, not little kids. We're basically given several experiments to work though over the quarter and we just go and do them and analyze the results on our own. I will miss him greatly when I transfer to university next year. I know I will cry at the end of the year because he's been such a good influence on me and really helped me blossom as much as I can in school.

The sad thing is that I really only have 1 friend that I've made in a year and a half that I see outside of class. Everyone else is strictly a business relationship. It is easier though this year because people are much more serious about chemistry so I actually sort of have people to talk to on some level and we are all kind of trying to head into the same types of professions.



Dantac
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12 Nov 2011, 6:06 pm

LittleSwallow wrote:
It's is my last year of school, and I would be glad to see the back of the place, I just really hope college would be the only happy educational experience that I have. (ex. making close friends this time round rather than friends you mostly see at school and also having a lot of frenemies. ;/)


It is very different.

For one, classes are on your own time and the workload is dramatically less. In high school you could end up with 5 homework assignments a day. In college you hardly have two or three a week (depending on what classes you choose and your major of course).

Socialization is not required. You can literally go to class, take notes and never interact with anyone. Its not like high school where you're stuck with the same people for years on end.

The first 2 years of any degree you spend taking the mandatory courses. People you meet in those classes are from all majors and thus you'll probably never see them again after that semester. Once you start in your degree specific classes (the last 2 years) you can still not socialize if you dont want to. Again, this is not like high school where you're literally stuck with these people.

The mistake many people make is going to college/univ thinking they have to succeed at socializing... and end up spending too much energy and time doing so and their grades plummet. Very few have the time management skills and maturity to do both well.



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13 Nov 2011, 7:29 pm

Depending on what college you go to, you may be able to reach out to a support group and meet fellow aspies on campus.

Other than that, I'm just going to put it bluntly - It's a life-changing experience.

When I was in high school and even when I was in community college, I always worked alone. Maybe I would ask my parents for help on homework every now and then, but for the most part it was on me that I completed the work to the best of my ability and studied as hard as I could by myself and still did exceptionally well.

When I got to University, it was a whole different playing field. Granted, I was taking junior and senior level courses, but what I was doing before wasn't working for me. The courses were much more difficult and the work alloted to me was more time-consuming. I hated the idea of forming study groups with my classmates. During orientation, they were stressing this was key to doing really well in your classes. At first I was like "Oh I'll be fine. I never needed to form a study group in the past." Sure enough, when I started getting my ass kicked in upper level accounting courses, I needed a change in strategy. Working with others really helps, and you're going to have to do it anyways because I'm sure regardless of your major you're going to have group projects (especially in grad school).

Basically, you're going to have to expand your comfort zone a bit in college. Depending on where you go, you may have to live on campus and share a dorm with 2-4 people. Whether you get along with your roommates or not is hit or miss. You also may not be comfortable with this, but trust me on this - get involved as much as you can in clubs and volunteering. Not only will it make you look better when you graduate, but you will enjoy the college experience much more.



jcull
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22 Dec 2011, 10:46 am

I am a doctoral student at Widener University in the social work program. My dissertation topic is on the social experience of college students with Asperger's Syndrome. I have prepared a questionnaire to ask questions about the social experience of college. Participation in this research will provide valuable information about the experience of students with Asperger’s Syndrome in college and give service providers a better picture of what kind of social experience students with Asperger’s Syndrome want and need.

There are several ways of participating in this research. You can complete an online survey, you can be interviewed or you can participate in a focus group. If you would like to be a part of this research please contact the researcher:

Jennifer Cullen, L.S.W
Email: [email protected]
Phone number:610-842-4439