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Smoothing the Road Ahead—Transition to College Program Preps High School Grads

by Solvegi Shmulsky

students living and learning on campusForward-thinking high school graduates will prepare for the crucial first semester of college in the Landmark College Transition to College program—a unique living and learning experience in Putney, Vermont.  Offered from July 19 to August 3, the program impact comes from a threefold design for successful college start-up: immersion, self-knowledge development, and strategy refinement. “Foremost we hope that students get a taste of college demands in a supportive environment—and that they gain both the strategies and confidence that will enable them to succeed in the fall,” explained Academic Program Director and Landmark College Professor Lynne Shea. “Equally important is that students gain a better understanding of themselves as learners and as emerging adults, and that they feel prepared for the independence that college represents,” said Shea.

Why is the Transition to College program needed? High-achieving students who learn differently—especially those whose learning is affected by ADHD or ASD—can face expected and unanticipated difficulties in their first semester of college that may put them at risk for failure. Even when academic ability is high, problems can arise because of the enormous jump in independence required to navigate college successfully.  

“Transition to College provides students with an opportunity to test their college readiness by simulating a comprehensive college experience, while also giving them information and strategies that they can put to use immediately in fall,” said Shea. “The program prepares students to use support services and to advocate for themselves as individuals who learn differently.” With the benefit of small classes, experienced professors, and a network of peer and advising support, students who attend Transition to College will—

  • Practice taking a freshman lecture class with supporting discussion/study skills section
  • Generate a short research paper and identify impediments to writing efficiently and effectively
  • Apply organizational skills, helpful habits and useful behaviors they'll need to succeed at college—and identify problem habits and behaviors that might surface the first year
  • Articulate individual learning issues that need attention
  • Identify the specific supports and accommodations they'll need in college—and how to access them
  • Practice the self-advocacy skills they'll need to navigate through their first year

Learning independently is not the only challenge of college—living independently is a new task and an exciting change for students. The mix of freedom and responsibility that comes with living away from home can be challenging to navigate for the first time.  Roommate relations, sleep, hygiene, wellness behaviors, social and extra-curricular activities, and peer relations—are essential to a positive college experience.  At Landmark College, the professional residential staff anticipates and addresses the “living” side of college to ease the transition away from home so that students may thrive in their new environments. 

Most colleges and universities offer valuable orientation and first-year programs to help incoming students adapt to their new and exciting lives—this session is a supplement for students who may benefit from an extra boost. The expert focus on the needs of college students who learn differently makes the Landmark College program unique.  “Students will learn strategies for studying and test-taking, research and writing, and self-advocacy,” explained Shea, “but our program is distinctive because it offers a simulated college class environment with support and feedback from college professors with decades of experience working with students who learn differently.”

Landmark College was the first institution of higher learning to pioneer college-level studies for students with dyslexia. Today Landmark College, offering two and four-year degree options, and summer programs for high school students and students visiting from other colleges, is a global leader in integrated teaching methods for students with learning disabilities, ADHD, and ASD. Students, faculty, and other professionals from all over the world are drawn to Landmark College for its innovative educational model, one designed through research and practice to help all students who learn differently become confident, self-empowered, and independently successful learners.

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