College Bound? Some Advice from Past NJCTS Scholarship Recipients

College Advice From Students with Tourette Syndrome

NJCTS asked our past scholarship winners to give our current teens on their way to college some advice about surviving their freshman year.

For me it took a lot of personal growth to get where I wanted to be at the end of my freshman year. Each and every individual should follow their own path and enjoy every moment of their college experience. In addition, make sure you stay on top of all your academics and reach out to your teachers as soon as possible with any questions regarding the material of the class or even personal issues, in my experience the teachers have been very understanding and willing to help. – Connor S.

My advice to people entering college in the fall is to be open-minded and be adventurous. You have the opportunity for a fresh start in a new place, with new people. I encourage you to try new things and be open to new experiences. Reach out to your professors and tell them you have TS and any supports you may need from them. Make use of your institution’s office for students with disabilities. Know when you need a break or when you need to catch some sleep. Most importantly if you are struggling with your mental health or need someone to talk to, use your resources. Your institution offers counseling services so take advantage of them. You are never alone and many college students struggle with their mental health. Even as a person studying to be a music therapist, I go to counseling at my institution. – Tommy L

My tips for others starting college in the fall, is to go into it with an open mind. You must understand this is a major change in your life, and be open to new ideas and experiences coming your way. College is lots of hard work, but will pay off in the end. I wish everyone the best, and to stay safe and healthy. – Michael C.

Once they start taking classes, I would strongly encourage students to meet some people in their classes, if it is feasible. They can collaborate to work on challenging homework assignments together, or to study for exams. If I did not have the support of my friends, I would have had a much harder time dealing with some of the challenging Computer Science classes at Stevens. It also makes college a much more enjoyable experience, and it’s something that I wish I could have focused on more while I was in college. –Jordan T.

For young adults that are starting college this fall, I would say that they should try to make the best of it. Join clubs or sports and try new things. This is the first time you truly are independent and can learn more about the person you are and want to become. Always be safe and aware of your surroundings. Do not be afraid to try something out of your comfort zone such as a club or Greek life. If you feel homesick for the first few weeks or even months that is normal and I promise everyone is in the same boat. If you are unsure of what you want to major in right away that is okay too! A lot of people are unsure when they start college or realize the major they had originally picked is not for them. With that being said I would say to expect the unexpected! Not everything will go exactly as planned or hoped and that is normal and okay. We cannot always control what situations come our way but we can always control how we react to them! Finally, have fun and challenge yourself! Time flies in college so enjoy it while it lasts. – Krista K.

Don’t be worried about being socially ostracized or being an outcast. Colleges and students are very welcoming, and faculty actively prevents discrimination of any kind. When you apply for educational accommodations, the college will usually ask for a copy of your High school IEP. You can choose from a lot of things for your accommodations, and it’s mostly online. If a teacher has trouble giving you accommodations, accommodation services can help you negotiate. Since I have ADHD, I was able to request notes or record the class lecture. Most colleges have free counseling services and other anti-stress services. My college has a pet therapy service that happens weekly. I mostly balanced out my stress by exercising after my classes, it really helps me. –Michael P.

Any student going into the fall, my advice is to know that time does make things better and that with hard work, you can accomplish a lot. – David C.

I know it will be strange for freshman entering college this fall – our orientation has already been moved online, regardless of the future decision on classes and campus – and starting a new chapter like the one they are about to is momentous and challenging even in the best of times.  My advice to them, coming from someone who does not typically open up quickly to new people, is to remain open to others and not shut yourself off from the outside world, whether on campus or online.  Even during the end of this semester I have realized how easy it is to hide behind a turned-off camera and watch lectures from afar, but the times when I have engaged with others, both on campus prior to all this and at home once we went remote, have paid huge dividends.  The more you open up to both meet new people and experience new things, the sooner you’ll find a new home on campus and enjoy all the positives that come from that. — Bennett M.

Make sure all professors know and are understanding of your TS. My school has a place where we meet at the beginning of each school year and go over the accommodations and send them out to the professors. – Trevor S.

Some tips I have for incoming freshmen is just be yourself! Don’t be scared to go up to someone and spark a conversation. Be confident, everyone’s open to chat in college. It’s a part of the experience, making friends. Always go to your professors if you need anything at all. They are there to help you succeed. Most of all have fun and don’t be scared to branch out. – Tara B.

As for a piece of advice for younger kids with Tourette’s, I recommend speaking up for what you know to be true! During my first week at the college I’m graduating from a young man made a crude joke about Tourette’s in front of me without realizing I have it, and I took the moment to address it. In the past I was always too afraid of confrontation to do so, but I had grown into myself and just couldn’t let it slide anymore. He apologized and I educated him a bit, and that’s how I met my boyfriend! We’ve been together for over 2 years now. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Good people will listen. – Noelle G.

My advice would be to take risks and try new things. You’re going into a new place full of new people and opportunities, just take a chance and branch out. It has been what’s resulted in some of my best friends and best stories. – Dylan W.

To all the kids who aren’t sure about how their freshman year is going to go my words of advice are:  when you get to college it’s easy to get swept up into all that the school has to offer, and this can be very overwhelming and overstimulating.  I made sure to keep in mind what my goals and needs were in my first semester and I took some time to take a step back and find the places, clubs, and programs that fit my criteria the best.  For example, I knew I wanted to stay active in school and be part of a team. There were about 20 different club sports who were at the activity fair the first week of school, however, I knew I wanted to join the Quidditch team so I found out about the team online before I got to school, and this helped me to avoid the stressful process of talking to 20 different clubs at a crowded fair on my very first week.  Instead, I just waited for the first practice, and I found it much more manageable and calming to be in that environment.  College is scary but has helped to shape the best three years of my life.  I have found a group of friends who support me and have my back.  They love me for who I am, and they understand and are educated about me and my tics.  – Tess K.


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