Top Questions to Ask when Choosing Your Path to Independence
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Top Questions to Ask when Choosing Your Path to Independence

The following is a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future

By John Ferrari, Academic Liaison

Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away! You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

– Dr. Seuss

The transition from high school to life beyond is one of the most exciting times in a young adult’s life. Students are open to a world of possibility, and have the opportunity to accomplish their goals and dreams. In order to do this, students and parents must ask the right questions to help guide decisions made in the transition process. The following questions can help to provide a framework for selecting the right fit for students.

When and how should students start discussing what will happen after high school?

Getting help with transition to collegeBeginning the discussion about what happens after graduation can start as early as middle school, but will most definitely coincide with the student’s first transition IEP plan. It should be a discussion between students, parents and guidance staff from high school. Students can contribute information about their interests, strengths, challenges, and career of choice. School guidance counselors can contribute information about college or technical school options, potential academic courses of study, entrance requirements, and the admission process including SATs and other standardized testing that will be required. School counselors might also have information about other types of post-secondary programs including gap year programs, apprenticeships, and internships. Parents can contribute by encouraging their son or daughter to take an active role in this process, being open to their ideas, and providing constructive feedback to help guide their decisions.

Should students visit the schools or programs they are interested in attending?

As this process continues and you begin to search specific campuses and programs it is important to remember the following –the internet can only provide so much information. Take the time to narrow down the selections and if they include non-local institutions, plan a couple of visits to those locations. You will see what the campus offers including on the weekend and new student visit days so that you can get a good idea of the school, the environment, and get the opportunity to ask as many questions as you need.

Does the school offer the program of study you are interested in?

You may have already identified possible majors and college is a time for exploration. Even after you have decided on a major, it is not unusual for students to change their minds. On average, 50% to 70% of college students will change their majors between one and three times before graduating.

What support services are available at college?

Getting advice on transitionA college education doesn’t just occur within the walls of a classroom. There are numerous services offered on campus that you way need to take advantage of or didn’t even think about up to this point. Services for students with disabilities, academic success centers with tutoring and student counseling services are all important campus departments to be aware of. They may be included in your agenda on campus visit day, but if not make sure to grab the campus map and stop by for yourself. Don’t be shy.

Will you need additional academic, social or living supports to be successful?

If the answer to this question is yes or maybe, it might be helpful to look on campus or in your new community for the following types of supports:

  • Professional or peer mentors
  • Organizational or executive functioning coaches
  • Social groups
  • Additional support programs that serve students with learning differences

What is the social atmosphere like on campus and in the community?

Lunch social at CLE DavieClass size, campus population, social organizations and community resources are just some of the things to be aware of during your visit to campus. Remember that websites can only say so much. Talk to current students while on campus, drive around the campus community, or better yet walk. Don’t forget to stop by the Student Affairs Department and pick up the latest student activity calendar and list of clubs and organizations.

This is certainly a time of filled with mixed emotions. By getting an early start in the process, you can dictate your own pace and make each decision one step at a time. Enjoy this experience and be ready to meet the challenges head on.

What if postsecondary education is not the path I want to follow at this time?

There are a growing number of individuals that choose to postpone college or pursue a more vocational path. They are enrolling in short term vocational or technical programs where the emphasis is on hands-on training to be competitive in the job market. You may be an individual that wishes to secure an entry level job in an effort to begin building a job history and gaining the valuable experience necessary to understand life as a working adult. You can also take advantage of federal and state resources to assist young adults in placement and career readiness. Vocational Rehabilitation is one such resource. And remember, just because college might not be right for you now, there will always be time to pursue it if your interest changes.

By asking and answering these questions, you will be on your way to selecting the right program and path for you.

“Your mountain is waiting. So . . . get on your way!”
– Dr. Seuss

Newsletter Articles – March 2015

Rachel at CLE Austin

All parents who have sent their children off to college can relate to the excitement and anxiety surrounding this life change. As parents, we never stop worrying about them even when we’re confident that they’ll do well. In this article, Trudy, one of our current parents, shares her experience with her daughter, Rachel’s transition.

Maddie - learning executive functioning at CLE

What’s next? As students transition out of high school, they face this question—and it’s a big one. While it can be exciting to entertain the new possibilities and opportunities at this time, it can also be daunting. For life as an adult after high school comes with many hard decisions: What college should I go to? What should I major in? What career do I pursue? What schools and jobs are even available to me? How do I pay for school? Do I work on the side? Where will I live? How do I support myself?

Academic Supports at CLE

For many students, the most challenging aspect of college is identifying what academic supports are available, and how to find them. College students must take the initiative to find and apply for the support services that will be beneficial to their academic success. Each college campus has various offices that are designed to support students academically, some offer services that are available to all enrolled students and some can only be accessed by specific students based on need.

Drew at CLE DC - culinary student

“Going from high school to college was a big transition. The transition to the “real world” was a bit nerve-wracking, but I made a choice to be excited to move onto something big,” says Drew. That something big was moving to Rockville, MD to attend college and join College Living Experience. Since joining CLE in 2012, Drew has made significant strides toward his ultimate goal of independence, including taking classes at college, participating in three culinary arts internships, living in his own apartment and making new friends in a new community. Based on his experience, Drew gives advice to students about how to make the transition to life beyond high school a good one.

CLE Locations

With 6 centers around the nation, people often ask us, “What are the differences in your centers?”, and “What makes each center unique?” We would love to take the time this month to highlight each of our centers’ educational options, housing information, and some fun student and center facts.

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