First Year College and Asperger Kids: Emotional Preparation

Dr. Eell’s talk on resiliance seems to speak to how to deal with the negativity Asperger kids’ experience in everyday situations.

In this blog, I want to address the emotional transition from high school and college, an area which can fuel negativity in many students, not just those with Asperger’s.

In my book, Unforgiving, Memoir of An Asperger Teen, I mention in passing that my parents wanted me to go to college, but I couldn’t face it.  I felt so unprepared, I thought it would be a total waste of their money, and in our family, money was scarce.  However, in 1999, forty-five years after I left high school, I started that journey.  I was finally emotionally prepared.  And that’s what this survey studies: the emotional preparedness of first year college students.

An online survey of 1,502 U.S. first-year college students by Harris Poll between March 25 and April 17, 2015 found that new college students faced crucial challenges beyond academics.

Being emotionally prepared for college was found to be key to social and academic success.

Emotional readiness includes being able to care for oneself, the ability to adapt to the new environment, being able to handle negative emotions and/or behaviour, the ability to engage in relationships that are positive.  Students who were not prepared in these ways were generally found to have lower GPA’s.

Generally speaking, students felt that emotional preparation for college was needed in high school curriculums.

Researchers noted some indicators of students who feel emotionally unprepared.  Generally, students who indulged in regular consumption of alcohol and/or drugs, students who wanted to transfer out, and those who took a leave of absence after the first term were among those who felt emotionally unprepared.

These students felt extremely challenged by several situations.  These ranged from managing college expenses to keeping in touch with distant family and friends, making new friends and establishing independence.

Almost half of all the students thought that their fellows had figured out all these issues and were handling them well, which made the struggle feel worse.

Researchers found many students, including a high percentage of African Americans, are silent about these issues. Those who do reach out will often turn to friends or family members.

Students who regularly use drugs or alcohol are more likely to suffer anxiety, stress and feeling overwhelmed.  They tended also to say getting emotional support was difficult.

The researchers point out that the transitional phase between high school and college is a high stress point for kids, and therefore the danger of initial or increased drug abuse is a concern.

 Parents need to be especially “attentive and communicative” during this period.

Half of the surveyed students said they felt they needed more independent living skills. Parents and other influential adults can be significant in helping students develop confidence and independence.

An important resource for parents and students, and school administrators is now available at

About the Survey. Survey respondents were students 17-20 years old, graduated from high school, are in the second term of their first year at college, and attending at least some classes in-person at a 2- year or 4-year college. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, visit or email

For more info please see:

Hope this helps!

Yours truly,

Margaret Jean.

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