Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Home for the Weekend - Lessons from Week One

My son came home this past Saturday because it was a long holiday weekend. His comment as he walked in the front door and down the hall to his room did not fall on deaf ears: "It's weird." It was more than a little weird for us as well.

For the most part, I'd say his transition is going well. The fact that he's been playing Ultimate Frisbee, clearly a team sport, addresses one of my biggest concerns. But needless to say, the first week was not without challenges.

There are a handful of things that he'll need to see to, and we're encouraging him do as much as he can on his own. He has not been able to track down anyone from IT services to help him out with his Internet connection. When I brought him back to campus yesterday, I had an Ethernet cable that I thought would solve the problem, but it didn't. Since he needs Internet access for class, I tried to impress on my son that he has to keep contacting IT services until it gets fixed. We bought his laptop through the school because it included a service contract with the Help Desk. My son has a really hard time being forceful in situations like this, so I will make a call myself if he hasn't resolved the issue in the next day or so.

He realized that he had neglected to enroll in one of the required courses for his intended major. The plus side of this is that he is comfortable using the school's online course registration systems (though not from his room -- see paragraph above), and was able to add the course to his schedule. What he didn't realize was the impact of adding a course to an already full schedule, bringing his total credit hours to 18.5. I think we've impressed on him the importance of dropping an elective and how to decide which one to drop. I'll check on that later this week.

Like most schools, my son's college assigns a faculty advisor to help with scheduling conflicts and academic concerns. When I recommended that he make an appointment with his advisor to discuss his schedule, he told me he had no idea who it was or how to find out who it was. I suggested he might ask his R.A. how to find out, or he could send an email to the secretary for the department of his major.

Finally, he mentioned that there were three plays that he needed to pick up for one of his classes that weren't available in the bookstore. We called a few places (including the local libraries) with no luck. It was Sunday night when he added that he had to have one of the plays read by Wednesday. After checking online, it looked like the book was on the shelf at the school's library, except...he had not yet found the library.

So I dropped him off yesterday, with three or four things that he had to do: get help from Tech services, find out who his faculty advisor is, drop one class from his schedule, find the library. How many of these little issues are common to most young adults navigating the world (more or less) on their own for the first time; and how many are unique to my son and attributable in whole or in part to his social communications learning disability? It might not matter.

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