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College and Job-seeking Advice?


Kai (they/them)
Hello there, I’m currently in a huge transitional part of my life as a college student. If open to sharing, feel free yo reply with your own experiences/struggles as a neurodivergent person (especially if a part of multiple marginalized groups).Thanks! All experiences are valid.
I think the best thing I can offer is this because I hear this a lot on these forums, and also from other NDs who I know in real life:

I did not expect to "make friends" in college. If it happened, great, but that was not my goal. My goal was to receive an education and earn my degree. All other things were secondary.

I think I did okay because I managed to graduate with honors and I did make some acquaintances, although they did not turn out to be what I would call "friends."

That's okay though because when I got this job, they were not interested in how many friends I had made.
Welcome :)

I will give you some advice from a 57 year old who's been there and done that. In fact, I am also a part-time university instructor for the past 30 years.

1. Keep your focus, make your daily task lists and check off lists, don't procrastinate. Autism executive functioning 101.
2. If you're autistic, you'll make all sorts of good acquaintances, perhaps have a good social life, but no real, true friends. Reality 101. Keep things in perspective. When in school, your personal life is secondary.
3. Your university experience will go much quicker than you think. That said, do not allow yourself to get behind. If you can, spend a fair amount of time in the tutoring center, if offered. Sometimes having someone show you some little tricks and techniques and shortcuts can be helpful.
4. Don't let your anxieties make you hesitate and miss out on things. Courage = Being afraid, but doing it anyways. It's a good way to gain self-confidence because you often surprise yourself with what you can do.
5. The first year or two is often the "weeding out" period at universities. It's designed to be difficult. Achieving a degree has less to do with intelligence and a lot more to do with perseverance. All you really need to do is keep yourself within a "good academic standing" and keep pushing forward.
6. Most employers do not look at your grade point average, but rather the degree you achieved and if you passed your board exams (if applicable). Joke: Q. What do you call the student who graduated last in his class at medical school? A. Doctor. ;)
I bombed at college for many reasons. They illegally denied me services, because they didn't want to support the only deaf person taking computer science courses when that deaf person should have known her place and majored in IT with all the other deaf kids. But my fixation wasn't in IT, so I just took classes anyway...

So many social expectations. Study groups, etc. Knowledge how to deal with compiler errors on strange lab Solaris machines were shared. These were not a possibility.

I ended up doing the minimum work to pass and then self-taught. Hyperfocusing proved far better career-wise than anything a structured class could have taught me.

I was bullied by the other deaf students for being too slow in conversations and all that. My deaf peers are much better to get along now because they've aged and matured just like I have, but at age 19 it sucked.

You asked about marginalization. First, I think marginalization is one of those concepts that is easy to ruminate on and be a stumbling block - better to just crack open a text instead of dwelling on identity that is elusive for many of us autistics anyway. Second, I think autism is just a life of permanently living on the margins, and I've accepted that I'm just not wired for human interaction in the same way as others at multiple levels. The "college experience" was never possible for me. It is what it is.

Would you mind being more specific? What are the type of things you wonder about?

From your post, just one suggestion based on personal experience: try not to feel "marginalized." It does require changing your mindset. If you feel different, less, or a victim, it changes your behavior and beliefs for the worse. You become more defensive, you question whether you can accomplish things, you tend to attribute intentions to other people's behavior towards you.
It helps to know what you want out of college. I went into college with no real goals and that made it a bit hard to stay focused. Hopefully, you'll make good friends along the way. Don't force it though. One good friend is better than ten phony friends.
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College was interesting. And you don't need to socialize. Many adults get in and get out. I finally felt like an adult. I couldn't work full-time and support myself, so l lasted two years. But l continued to take courses and attended a computer programming school a year later. Angela Davis was an instructor at the uni l attended.
I think you will find help, if you need it. Find out where the library is and the food court. And make a note of where the bathrooms are. Don't park in areas they tell you not to. You will get towed. And get the parking decal. Oh, yeah, have fun, since corporate America is now lifting the degree requirement to get a job.
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It wasn't too bad. I was lonely at first, and had no idea I may be autie/neurodivergent, so thought I was shy and introverted. Tended to be disorganised, poor concentration and executive function issues, as I now see it.

But I did/do have a certain perseverance/ obliviousness / humility, that has seen me through. 66 now!

Also I am gay and nonbinary, working that out was a journey too.

I'd say, finding work I enjoyed was a journey, and I had varied jobs, over the years. That paid OK too. I may not have moved house so much if I realised I was autie. Not sure. But I was bold, and moved around, and often lonely, but did OK. It's been good to understand about neurodivergence though. It would have saved me some angst to know that sooner.

I did a lot of therapy, I taught, I trained in therapy, and I mostly enjoyed my work, especially as a trainer. Plenty of good times, and sometimes was lucky and had good friendship groups. Definitely do knuckle down and get your qualifications. It's been the key to a financially adequate and secure life for me.
I am definitely part of multiple marginalized groups.

I think the best things I can recommend personally are, if you're open to hanging out and causally socializing with others in public:
1. Prepare yourself (as much as possible) to stand your ground by verbally expressing boundaries when necessary.
2. Try things that maybe you wouldn't normally do, but be aware of the commitments- time, energy, financially. Take educated risks and try to prepare yourself to not feel bad if they don't work out. Have exit plans. Try to do something with a friend if possible.
3. If one or two people in a group activity are annoying you, generally best to just avoid those people as much as possible. If there is a vibe that the majority of the group isn't vibing well, best to transition out asap. Remember, things can and should take time, but not too much time.
4. If you have a social anxiety slant, try to be understanding that others (including myself!) may not be able to work with that, and consider seeking therapy instead of trying to socialize first.
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I am in the UK and I am in my 40s. To be able to study at degree level in university I am required to do an access course which is a mixture of Highers. We have touched on criminology, hearing about cases can be gruesome. For example:-
Hello there, I’m currently in a huge transitional part of my life as a college student. If open to sharing, feel free yo reply with your own experiences/struggles as a neurodivergent person (especially if a part of multiple marginalized groups).Thanks! All experiences are valid.
Focus on your needs first, wants second which will come with a lot of it. I didn’t when I started, and it took me too long to graduate because of it.

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