August 12, 2009

Wait...You Said Summer's Almost Over?!?

The Fall semester at Marshall University is about to start, and summer is almost over! Between now and August 24th, 2009, college students across the country will (a) squeeze in a few more hours with friends and family before returning to campus, (b) sleep in during the morning, because they know they can't do that as often during the semester, and (c) start packing up their stuff for the long trek back to the university.

Of course, that last one's done at the last minute, most time.

At the Penn State National Autism Conference, where I spoke on the topic of transition to college, I was pleased to meet and get to know Caitlin Baran. Caitlin was kind enough to sit through three hours of my discussion, and we were able to talk in more detail after.

Caitlin was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in 1997. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree in psychology from Shippensburg. She works to provide interventions to children with Mental Health and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Considering her extensive experience in the transition to college, and that I sensed instantly that Caitlin was someone who desires to make a difference in the lives of others, I asked her to provide some tips on the topic of returning to college. She was kind enough to accept, and I'm grateful.

Here, in her own words, is Caitlin's advice:

As an individual with Asperger's Syndrome and a graduate of both graduate and undergraduate school, I thought it would be a wonderful idea to share tips on how to make the transition back to school a successful one. I know it isn't easy transitioning from summer to the start of the fall semester, however, with these tips the transition can be made easier.

My first tip deals with packing for school. It was always difficult to decide what to pack for school and what to leave behind at home. I found that packing was easier (a lot less stressful) when I made a list of what to pack. When I packed something I packed it with other like items. For example my cd's and dvd's together. That made it easier not only when packing to know what I had packed, but also when moving back to school as I would unpack all like items at once, placing them in the same location in my room. Also with making a list, it helped me to check items off the list once I got and packed the item so I knew that particular item was taken care of.

Remember to start packing early. The items you don't use on a daily basis should be packed before the items you use daily. Also it helps to designate a place in your house to collect the belongings you will be taking to school with you.

Another tip is to e-mail the professors you will be having in the upcoming semester before the semester starts to ask what text book will be used for the class. This way if you need books on tape you can make sure to order the book on tape ahead of time and have the book on tape before the start of the semester. Even if you don't use books on tape e-mailing professors before the start of the semester to ask what text book will be used for the class is still a good idea. By knowing what text book will be used for class ahead of time you can purchase the text book on and save money, in addition to saving money it also saves you from standing in lines in an over crowded bookstore.

Best wishes for an excellent semester!

Thank you, Caitlin. We at Marshall University appreciate your insight and your dedication to the community.