Transitioning into college after high school can be a complicated process that might be overwhelming for people with SMA. This was what I decided to do to prepare for a successful college journey.
During my senior year of high school, I knew it was important to start preparing for college as early as possible. As soon as my school announced it was time to get ready for college and submit applications, I had to make a decision. I knew that once I was accepted to a university, I would go all the way to get my degree, so I put a lot of thought into it.
After I was accepted to my college choices, I immediately looked at the distance between each of them and my family home. Being near home is important for emergency situations. I wanted to find a happy medium between being close enough to home and having enough space to have independence. Once I settled on a college, it was time for the logistics.
Of course, everyone is different, but I decided it was important to always have someone present with me. With that in mind, I took time to go through the people I know who would be willing to be around if I ever needed a hand. My family and medical assistants were always willing to do it. Once I settled on a college, it was time to establish a system.
I accomplished all of this ahead of starting college. Getting a head start on my exact dorm assignment also helped with planning my setup of equipment and choosing things to bring. I oftentimes would visualize a typical day for myself to make sure that I had left no loose ends.
I’m not sure how most universities handle matching first-year roommates, but I was fortunate enough to have an online matchmaker. Finding a roommate and becoming friends with them was a massive benefit for the future.
I was social and fun with my roommate, but also transparent about what it would be like to live with me. With that understanding, everything was pretty smooth moving in.
Coordinating medical assistants is pretty easy, since there are agencies in most areas with people available to help. At the end of the day, most of my bases were covered for a while. Of course, there was an unacceptable lack of independence with this plan.
Making friends and gradually asking them to assist me at times was the best way to tackle that. Being social and extroverted was the quickest way to make it happen. The sooner that I found my friends, the sooner I would be able to truly experience college.
Money was also a great incentive for friends to help. There are programs such as Public Partnerships that help facilitate hiring and funding caretakers — even friends and family, to an extent.
This was my path for an unforgettable experience that resulted in a bachelor’s degree in film and TV. A little planning made the difference in a great overall journey.
Columnists on mySMAteam discuss SMA from a specific point of view. Columnists' articles don’t reflect the opinions of mySMAteam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors. Content on mySMAteam isn't intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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